Fashion Observed

Trend observations with a sociological eye from afar...

by Darryl S. Warren  

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What Are We Toasting To?

B efore we begin, please note that the next round of articles will arrive after Fall Winter 2021 winds down. Also, if you're looking for articles on modular fashion, covid fashion or part one of the two part series on what we can do to survive and thrive in the midst of this upheaval, check the archives. Now, where were we? Oh yes, the future....

I want to be able to tell you everything that's good over the next year. The vaccine trials lead us towards the end of this pandemic and we return to normal societal function and savoring all the trappings that we took for granted. Our renewed appreciation allows us to enjoy all aspects of life with new eyes. Touching and embracing finds us emotionally recharged and brings forth the kind of healing we've long needed because we are a social animal too long deprived. Experiencing the fullness of unencumbered life finds us active. Economies bounce back and life returns with an elevated consciousness from all the downtime that forced us to reflect.

The reality is that we have far too many people who have lost faith in facts and the institutions that allowed these to become fast and loose. Resistance to vaccines means it will take longer to get them to the population, which means these measures are with us for far longer. Relapses will challenge faith in many as antimaskers and conspiracy theorists continue to sew seeds of doubt that interfere with and sabotage our attempts towards normalcy. Fear accompanies touch, further enhancing isolation among the single. Pronounced economic impact increases because bankruptcies take time and we haven't even begun to see the impact unfold. This translates into higher unemployment exacerbated by stagnant wages and income gaps that render life more Dickensian than ever before. More may be active due to increased homelessness or more looking for work and/or cutting back on spending on transportation. Just as we find our health, we step into a different plague: poverty, exacerbated by runaway inflation resulting from the economic attempts to reinvigorate the economy that have irrevocably damaged fiat currency values. The haves versus the have-nots spur resentment to a widespread social breaking point.

Okay, that's bleak and that's possible. And so is this: governments working together to institute universal basic incomes; technology creating new job sectors; governments funding jobs training; our bumbling our way into an entire new kind of life path where creativity becomes a more valuable commodity that makes opportunity more likely; work becoming more technical in every facet of life yet accessible thanks to advances in ease of use; and AI allowing us to explore unusual solutions with higher probabilities of success in rapid time thanks to clever algorithms based on collaborative research and big data. Environmental concerns add to new sector development, and better quality of life base levels ensure more have a decent standard of living as we take the opportunity to transform our adversity into opportunity. Feel a bit better now?

The question this blog asks is this: how does this translate to fashion? It won't be far from what we see now. Artisinal items become special occasion investments. Advances in textile recycling and closed loop processes such as what H & M demonstrated recently in Stockholm with their Looop project (cleans and shreds old fabric, mixes in some new fibres and reweaves new items on the spot) and with textile recycling via liquification like what Evrnu has done (waste garments are turned into a pulp and liquefied then extruded into a new yarn) result in on-demand recycling and local manufacturing but for now it will be tested out in a few major cities at a novelty level as scientists work towards finding a way to mass produce the process more affordably. Between the two, fashion continues more individual detail expression that the pandemic initially supported. Modular design expressions will continue, and class distinctions will be expressed in how tech or how intricate the handiwork is; knowledge of process is the "tell". We'll see crispness in colour, a sea of blacks and navy blue, greys, banker browns and punches of calm colours with vivid hues that click with gaming, and hidden flashiness. And regardless of the spin, the Pantone colours for this coming year are really about detachment and cheery, comforting fear; the fallout from our uncertainty due to politics and whether people really use the vaccines lines up with those sentiments nicely. Anything more celebratory is accents to augment to reality-based foundations. Any form goes. Any hem goes. Textures will beg for touch. Function and versatility will matter more. We want clothes that work like we do, as long as the fun stuff connects well with our phones. And for those who cannot handle the future, the 70s will be waiting for you.

That should give you plenty to talk about until the next round of collections comes. Houses that promised to cut down on number of seasons will determine how quickly this blog will respond. In the mean time, keep stockpiling that gold and silver. You never know how handy it might come.

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