Fashion Observed

Trend observations with a sociological eye from afar...

by Darryl S. Warren  

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Rerun Recap

H ow nice to see you all again. This blog did let you know that the changes in the fashion calendar meant that the dissemination of blog articles would be affected while on hiatus mode, and your patience is now rewarded.

First, a general recap on fashion. In the past, this blog has brought attention to how trends tend to regress and park itself in retro when faced with shocks such as economic declines. The past year (and the upcoming Pre-fall 2021 so far) are no different. The covid-19 pandemic brought double duty as far as negative influences, for not only has it given the precarious economy a terrible global hit, it has also dampened the public's embrace of investing in creativity during the bulk of the year.

While the second hand market and fashion resale has been seeing a boom, much new fashion retail has been left languishing in warehouses while the public has found less reason to shop, given that there is far less activity at access. This is compounded by shutdowns cutting jobs, creating a domino effect that has triggered less spending, which of course exacerbates the economic picture. Innovation has not been totally obliterated, though; the bulk of runway collections that have come out of Resort 2021 and Spring Summer 2021 have reflected the repercussions, translating into revisits in safe clothing designs that maintain existing trend periods such as the 70s, 80s and 90s. In particular, the late 80s and bulk of the 90s, harmonizing with the last time the economic collapse of the end of the 80s negatively impacted the fashion landscape and, in a way, the skin obsession of the 2000s, an era when spirits were crushed by the suddenness and global intensity of 9/11. This means returns to normcore, retro pieces that connect with happier times and, in a way, athelisure which is now rebranded as workleisure as it becomes modified for work with aesthetic upgrades combining sport materials with more professional cuts. The Instagram feed for Fashion Observed is more interested in innovation and creativity so you'll have to look at general fashion resources for evidenciary support, of which there is plenty of it online.

The lockdowns that shifted work to being home-based allowed for people to invest in a lot less of a wardrobe, focusing on whatever video screens could capture. No need for any special investment below the waist, it seems, reinforcing Instagram-minded choices but at a narrower garment focus. With most options to socialize removed, the need for formal wear or occasion-shopping has dropped considerably during the year, so people no longer needed to refresh such items in their wardrobe. In fact, the threat of deep negative economic impact really did double duty. For one, out of survival, priorities shifted and wearing anything ostentatious and overtly expensive (think of obvious luxury expressions), much like the early 90s, became gauche again. The whole world accepted dressing down as acceptable with so many facing economic uncertainty; the sudden overwhelming fiscal threat that the pandemic brought has made conspicuous consumption incongruous with the current general state of affairs. Second, the emotional toll triggered general resignation. The magnitude connected with uncertainty over how long or even how permanent this pandemic would be resulted in a priority shift; what mattered was connecting, not dressing to impress. Shutdowns hit us at primary self-care access. No salons or barbers were open, theoreticians were shut, and we all were forced to "let go". Because it was so widespread, we accepted a drop in aesthetic standards in favor of what really matters: relationships. Fashion and the cultivated personalities that social media had long fostered seemed incongruous with our shifted values. A plus side, though: we allowed ourselves to experiment with homegrown attempts and allowed our actual selves to come forth, a testament to what authenticity meant.

On that note, it was interesting to see how things like influencers or what social media focused on changed. Influencers became a lot less relevant when priorities shifted from image and superficiality to deeper aspects of the human condition. Celebrity lifestyles seemed a lot less important. There was some social media backlash, particularly when celebrities attempted to rally support of "being in this together" when many pointed out that there was a huge difference between a first responder being isolated in a one-bedroom flat versus someone in a twenty room compound with unlimited resources trying to connect with the public as if the experience was shared. As these typed would push demand for luxury via inspiration and imitation, their influence would wane.

The pandemic was great in forcing a massive time out that drove people to look within. However, not all people were comfortable with being forced to that level of introspection, a telling aspect of society at large. Some seem to have found it very hard and resorted to channeling their focus to DIY and creativity expression to unusual extremes and this actually pushed more to revisit repairing and reworking garments versus the usual use and toss approach we've long accustomed ourselves to. This supported ideas such as investment purchases versus fast fashion and increased use of rental and, moreso, second-hand shopping with the latter enjoying a huge boom. Those who enjoy membership with Pej Gruppen will have read my article covering the rise of the fashion rental market as well as steps to profit from it and the article holds more relevance than when it came out several years earlier.

As mentioned earlier, one of the big, unspoken aspects of 2020 is how designers and manufacturers are sitting on a lot of stock that is going nowhere. Some are thinking of reintroducing these next year while others are looking at disassembling pieces that no longer seem relevant to remake into new, more relevant incarnations. The denim market took a big dive as less people went out to hang out or do activities that denim would support. Being homebound meant the need was for comfort over outdoor performance outside of covid related material creation which this blog covered months ago. Some younger designers interested in sustainability via recycling existing garments are looking at ideas to repurpose denim while some denim items have made a resurgence so far as far as Pre-Fall 2021 is concerned. As vaccines come out, we could see denim roar back by 2022.

Speaking of trends, a review of past articles within this blog will see that many key trends have continued, such as patchworking (yes, still relevant) which seems to be segueing into monochrome and solids being sought after as people would get pattern and combination fatigue and design houses exhaust recycling options such as deadstock and surplus garments (this blog did say this was likely). No matter how bad things get, we have trained society to consume and part of that is to demand newness and variety. Technology is responding accordingly. Layering remains and won't disappear as it affords variety support. Modular elements also bring extended garment usage and is likely to remain as economics come into play regarding purchase decisions. And, of course, the innovations regarding recycling textiles itself are coming along nicely. Again, readers who subscribe to Pej Gruppen will see my upcoming article on sustainability in fashion and how it relates to textile recovery and recycling.

Is there anything that is new? In subtle ways, yes, and the next articles will touch on the very things we all have observed. Stand by for more.

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