Fashion Business reports: September/October 21
As the world turns for fashion during the time of COVID 19
Each week as I write these introductions, I think about the week that has passed and the content for my next piece. Each week I think about the extraordinary, weird and peculiar times in which these reports sit, their context and their relevance. They’re here to help, prompt thoughts and ideas, and to of course inform. They’re designed to suggest questions, have observations within them and they offer facts on how the fashion industry is working, responding and changing during these times. I try very hard not to forecast, predict or look too far ahead because that is not possible right now. We can plan ideas but not always implement them, we can plan future travel dreams but not book them yet and we can suggest trends and moods but not be certain they will materialise.
Optimism has always been the key, the raison d’etre and the heart of what I collate and write for each report, “as the world turns” is really a news intro, a statement of life continuing. It’s in a sense meaningless as of course the world is turning, time zones, climates and day or night times wax and wane along with the moon. The world turns during all times and all events, and recently it’s demonstrated how in India it is taking the country deeper into the pandemic, and in the U.K. it’s, perhaps, taking the country out of the pandemic.
Some of those within the industry seem now convinced that fashion weeks, live catwalk shows and endless collections are continuing as “normal” and that we will obviously return to exactly where we were in fashion terms before the pandemic struck.
The major fashion weeks, in New York and Paris especially, have been abolished, demolished, ignored, rebelled against and indeed removed from the agenda and the schedule for many from their individual programme. Not just for some smaller independent names, but for the entire Kering company with names like Michael Kors doing so. Will they rush back to the old ways?
The use of online communication, the opening up of the presentation of new collections, has meant that the whole world can watch and comment.
The idea of look books, information and piece by piece information for the stylists, etc, means that the in-depth information remains at the disposal of the professionals who need it. The online forums, the buzz and the discussion possibilities offered by online presentations has clearly increased during the past twelve months, this is all valuable brand exposure and is in fact free. The access offered to everyone who are fascinated by fashion, the direct communication with fans and clients of specific names, the global reach with time zones all but erased through access at any time.
All these points mean fashion has changed and isn’t going back. Add to all this the unquantifiable and unknown elements; the virus is by no means wiped out, cured or has disappeared. There are many countries where life is controlled in terms of numbers, treatments and vaccines, but it certainly isn’t worldwide. There is complete uncertainty regarding travel, fresh outbreaks, long term security and the recovery of economies. This isn’t all about gloom and doom, but it is the reality of the situation right now.
Economists are forecasting a much longer stretch before a return to market stability; or are they? When I typed into Google search “how soon will the global markets recover from COVID” the variations of this question I ended up with are crystal ball conjecture and widely differing replies, plus if you only look at one or two countries it’s a very different picture to the global economy.
- Bloomberg: Covid will leave deep scars in world economy even After Recovery
- World Bank: A subdued recovery, with damage to undo
- World Financial Review: How soon can the financial markets recover from Covid-19
- Morgan Stanley: Covid impact on global growth
- OECD: Financial markets policy responses to Covid
- Brookings: The global economy’s uneven recovery
As we settle into the second year of COVID 19, a pandemic which started in November/December 2019, later escalating in March 2020 - nearly five months after the possible initial outbreaks, it's obvious that we are not settling back into life as it was pre-Covid. We’re not putting it behind us and returning to “normal” and expression which, when accompanied by the word “new”, was for a while extremely popular and has now virtually disappeared. Masks, vaccines, sanitiser, new forms of travel and not just a passport, but other documentation, rules, curfews, limitations and restrictions are not vanishing overnight. Delays and uncertainties, caution and reluctance to make mistakes, mean the key decision makers are moving slowly even with vaccines available. All this is why fashion has to live and operate in the real world of now, and the coming months, all this points to fashion weeks being odd throughout 2021, and the clear indicators are that financially fashion has had to pause and take stock. Rumours about travel cuts, travel budgets and lack of revenue mean that the days of sending a whole team away to each city for shows will be impossible. How will we all travel if isolation remains one of many countries’ methods of virus containment?
It’s not meant to be extraordinary, it’s not created to change or move fashion forward, and it’s not wildly creative. What it is, is “The Great American Wardrobe”. It’s lots of great pieces, well designed, not rubbished about with, well made in good quality and not one season wonders, and at a good, expensive but not stratospheric price. It’s simply Tommy Hilfiger. However, as Vogue Runway tells us there is much good news, much cause to applaud and a freshness hidden within the pieces.
“NEW YORK, APRIL 30, 2021"
by EMILY FARRA
The great irony of designer “gorpcore” is that while the clothes suggest a deep affinity for nature, the materials they’re made of are actually killing the planet. Synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon have contributed to microplastic pollution in our oceans, and in 2019, scientists discovered Mount Everest’s snow has become saturated with Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, or PFAS, the nonbiodegradable, cancer-causing chemicals used in climbers’ waterproof parkas and boots.
Our year in lockdown has made outdoorsy fashion—and actual outdoor activities, whether you’re hiking Everest or taking a long walk around town—even more desirable, but it’s important to consider how your gear is affecting your surroundings. Tommy Hilfiger’s team members had that in mind when they designed their fall 2021 men’s and women’s collections, which feature oversized utility parkas, puffer vests, drawstring flannels, slick bucket hats, and knits intarsia’d with Appalachian mountain landscapes. The team reported that it’s their most sustainably made collection yet: The fill in the parkas and vests is Ecoloft; much of the polyester was recycled; and they scaled up their use of both organic cotton (which requires less water and none of the pesticides found in conventional cotton) and wood-pulp fibers like Tencel and viscose that were sourced from responsibly managed forests.
To those in the know, none of those developments will sound particularly novel, but what’s promising is that they’re becoming standard practice at a company as large as Tommy Hilfiger. It isn’t positioning itself as a “sustainable brand,” but recognizes the pivot our industry needs to make in order to protect its future - and the planet’s. Soon enough, making clothes that inflict less harm on the environment won’t even be a talking point, let alone a marketing strategy; it will simply be expected.”
At a time when the major names of fashion seem more and more preoccupied with sales, and the designers they employ have less and less room to be creative, we look elsewhere for inspiration. Part of all our roles in fashion, from merchandiser to CEO is to watch the new, the smaller, the up and coming, the individualists and the thinkers. This is hard work since small collections and new names can slip through some coverage outlets. It’s difficult because the new or smaller brands and names may have limited distribution, plus today much of the communication is very focussed and specific. If the designer, retailer and clients are in close contact and the product is selling through, why worry about press coverage? Of course, everyone wants some publicity and to have their name out there, but it seems not every designer wishes to expand and get bigger and bigger and lose control.I have no idea or predictions for Duran Lantink but my goodness right now he’s amazing! See Sarah Mower’s review and watch who’s working with him, featuring him and mentioning him.