Can fashion as we know it still exist during Covid-19?

by Zinam Klaas


The fashion industry is a $1.2 trillion global industry, with more than $250 billion spent annually in the United States alone. This is according to several industry analysts. Fashion and apparel industries employ 1.9 million people in the United States and have a positive impact on regional economies across the country.


The Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a huge impact on almost every industry, whether it be essential health services or non-essential businesses. The fashion industry has unfortunately also been affected by this global pandemic.


Masks, but make it fashion. Source: theguardian.com

The fashion industry is the heart of creative anatomy and one of the key contributors to

the economy. As mentioned above, this industry employs 1.9 million people in the United

States alone and a decline in this industry would see the global economy deteriorating

immensely. With thousands of jobs being lost by artists, designers, seamstresses and

anyone else who contributes to the making of a single garment.


Creatives in the industry have had to find innovative ways to continue to show their

masterpieces and bring a positive light on all the negativity the world has faced. In Europe,

the London-based designer, Steven Tai has had to endure not one but two lockdown periods.


Firstly, at the birthplace of the virus. Many of the employees who operated the machines of

Tai’s factories were unable to work and therefore forced all operations to be put on hold. Despite these challenges, Tai was still able to showcase his work at Paris Fashion Week, with

only two seamstresses at hand.


He now faces yet another lockdown period in London but he has found other methods to reach his buyers. The innovative designer has taken advantage of advanced technology to create a virtual look book that uses a single rotating model. This gives buyers the ability to view the collection from a 360-degree angle whilst still being in the safety of their homes. The result? Nearly half of Tai’s orders were retrieved from his virtual look book which shows the power of technology and social media.


Steven Tai autumn/winter 2020. Source: Steven Tai on Instagram.

To still feel essential during a pandemic of only ‘essential workers’, influencers and fashion-

focussed celebrities have initiated new ways to contribute. For example, two stylists Anna Rosa Vitiello and Bettina Looney have cleared out their wardrobes in exchange for donations to Doctors Without Borders and Help Them Help Us charities. By using their platform, they

wanted to interact with their followers in a fun yet helpful way; to raise funds for these

charities.


By combining their two loves; fashion and humanitarian work, they were still able

to keep to the strict lockdown rules. These two phenomenal women did not make this

initiative a one-hit-wonder but rather a venture that is hosted every Monday. Each Monday

comes with a new and exciting batch of clothes to be sold. Recently they have been partnering with small brands to the mix up with items they already own. The people seem to love it, so why stop?


The two stylists Anna Rosa Vitiello on the left and Bettina Looney on the right.

As many runway shows have been cancelled, many creatives have said: “the show must go

on!”. This was seen at the Shanghai Fashion Week which began on the 24 March and was

held on a digital platform. Designers were still able to show their months of hard work and dedication through social media channels and websites. These live streaming websites served as the runway for over 150 designers for the next few days. Audiences were allowed to purchase items using their phones straight from the virtual runway. Designers also had the choice to photograph their designs and share their inspirations with viewers in real-time. After attracting 2.5 million views on the first day alone, the end of the fashion week only screams a huge success, with over 11 million streams and $2,82 million earned.


Shanghai Fashion Week 2020. Source: alizila.com

With social media being such a big platform for creators to share their work with other creatives, on the night of 22 May, many mouths were uttering the name Anifa Mvuemba. This Congolese designer set the fashion industry on a whole new revolutionary level by hosting the first-ever virtual fashion show without any models. The founder of Hanifa showcased her collection, Pink Label Congo, in response to the uncertainty of the pandemic. She, like many other designers, insists that the show must go on but her unique take on this gave many a taste of ground-breaking display of what could happen to fashion in the near future.


The post Covid-19 world will will mean a completely new era for fashion in all aspects. The designs, the trends to come and the manner in which larger events like “Fashion Week” take place will likely all change.


Lastly and most importantly, this is an insight into how brands have adapted during the crisis

and how it will affect them in the future. However, as we continue to be uncertain on the

events to come, the fashion industry continues to use futuristic approaches to keep its

audience wanting more.

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