What will Fashion's future be like in the aftermath?
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What will Fashion's future be like in the aftermath?

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At this time of uncertainty, speculations and assumptions about the future awaiting us at the end of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic keep blooming relentlessly. The fashion sector, in particular, must face the problems and contradictions that have been plaguing it recently and have become apparent since the beginning of this lockdown.

Several questions have been spontaneously arising: what will the long-term repercussions be? Is this situation going to bring about an evolution for the fashion world and its production rates? Another pressing question refers to the way the most important actors for its survival will react, which is to say professionals on one side, and consumers on the other.

As we reported last week, during her Fashion Design lessons, stylist Simona Serra talked about the issue with her MKS Milano Fashion School students, who literally represent the future for the industry. This is why we asked some of them to share with us their thoughts on the matter.

Carlo Migliori (Fashion Design student, 1st year):

Every period of repression and tension is probably followed by one characterized by radical changes that most times lead to an evolution. Or at least, this is what history reminds us; suffice it to say that, after the French Revolution and in the fleeting space of only two decades, Neoclassicism was able to put aside excesses, frivolousness and Rococo’s constraints, or that after WWII fashion and lifestyle were completely revolutionized by the 50s and 60s colorful, transgressive youth movements. More than our companies or financial conditions, clearly relevant for our lives, it is even more crucial to preserve the air we breathe, continue to witness the sunrise and be more united. Maybe this will be one of the paths that fashion will choose to explore; more and more fresh, sustainable, and attentive to our planet’s needs and to our understandable desire to express ourselves, as usual. Firms, or at any rate those which will survive the economic earthquake provoked by Covid-19, might or might not take voluntarily this direction, but one thing is for sure: they will have to reduce the excessive output quantities and the hectic work pace.
If things really take a turn for the better, how long do we think it will last this time?
In short, everyone has now taken on the challenge of understanding how things will go and the truth is that no one knows; what we can do is understand how to act in the present time. Our duty these days is to remain optimistic and make sure that the outcome is a good one: much better to be utopian than dystopian.

Davide Zingarelli (Fashion Design student, 1st year):

I think this forced stop will bring big changes all over the world and, consequently, in the fashion sector as well. Whether we like it or not, we must make it through and, even if we would like a sudden restart (which would worry me), it will be impossible. Because it is like we are lacking the raw material to get this boost…and I’m happy about this!
I’m happy because it was painful seeing the way things were going: we were all headed towards an explosion fueled by the word “FAST”. The whole world we used to know was getting full of “fast” all over the place, without caring about things anymore.
I have always preferred quality to quantity, and when I buy my clothes I’m willing to pay a lot, but only if I know that they will last over time and that I won’t have to throw them away after three washing cycles. I agree with Professor Serra: we got to the point where the level of consumerism was exaggerated and there were way too many collections and little ideas.
I think people will have less money than before, so they won’t buy clothes to be used only for a few months and thrown them away to replace them with new ones anymore. They will think it through before buying something. And without such consumerist costumers, manufacturers will have to make some changes. I think all of this is wonderful and revolutionary! A creator also needs time to create, to think, to research, to understand which way to go and what they want to communicate. Because that is also fashion, it is not only selling and consuming!
Thinking exclusively about these two factors and pouring out products as we used to is a toxic behavior in my opinion! It kills creativity and poisons consumers.
To sum up, we need to understand that every cloud has silver lining: I don’t believe that things happen without a reason and this pandemic must be considered as a pause for reflection. These dark times will bring us back to level zero and will give us the possibility to start once again in a healthier and fairer manner for everybody, and I’m not talking only about fashion.

Carla-Elena Acatrinei (Fashion Design student, 2nd year):

There is no doubt that this time we are all living with anxiety and worry has conditioned our lifestyles and society “spheres”, which include the fashion industry as well.
I think the fashion system problem dates back way earlier than this pandemic. Once upon a time, “doing” fashion meant creating and conveying a message, or at least this is the belief I grew up with, also considering it as capable to give space to anyone with something to say, to protest for. Unfortunately, I think the problem arises from the society we live in, as we believe life must be lived at the speed of light, without asking ourselves why, and we never stop to reflect on ourselves and the consequences of our actions.
Top brands think they know what we young people, the driving force of future generations, need, but that’s not exactly true.
I don’t need eye-catching advertising campaigns if the message is nonexistent or doesn’t respond to my “necessities”.
Personally, I need to feel encouraged and welcomed by this world I chose and with which I fell in love a long time ago.
Therefore, it is right for fashion to have to stop, pay the consequences for its actions and think about the changes it must undertake, hoping that this will soon give voice to people like my peers and I that certainly want to express a message.

Eleonora Ferrari (Fashion Design student, 2nd year):

Situations like the one we’re living arrive cyclically to change something, and they are a sign that human beings’ lifestyle is exaggerating and overcoming our world’s balance.
Fashion has been squeezed in the last few years, obliged to follow exasperate rates that distorted it, and overwhelmed by fast fashion. Fashion is art and self-expression. Today it is social desirability and trends. It is overproduction, pollution, waste. It doesn’t care for innovation, quality, sincerity. It cannot keep going on like this, losing its value and meaning.
This forced shutdown is the perfect occasion to slow down and return to the essentials.
In this period of crisis, the whole machine got stuck, consumers are not buying or are being more careful. They are taking advantage of online platforms, just like brands are doing for communication purposes: these means will be even more important in the aftermath, because they have now become essential for our lives. It will be more difficult to have free access to shops, try on and buy clothes with no restraints, and so we might prefer doing shopping online. However, there will be less money at our disposal, but will this also mean less demand? Moreover, consumers have now rediscovered a slower, more relaxed and human kind of lifestyle. That is true. Will they keep it or fall right back in the consumerism whirlwind? This will be decisive to understand the future of fashion.
A lot of people, me included, think that it would be better to go back to a lower supply - the two classic season collections that don’t chase repetitive trends thrown out to create the illusion of innovation, but that offer long lasting, functional and versatile products. Slow down. It is also necessary to let the environment breathe; continuing the unhealthy, unhinged exploitation of a closed system, as the Earth is, will bring us to a catastrophe sooner or later. Ignoring this problem and postponing it to a hypothetical future won’t do us any good, much better face it now.

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