The fashion industry is one that is consistently evolving. It incorporates new ideas as well as revisits those from the past that seem relevant to the present. However, the post COVID era has brought some major technological, social and adaptive factors together that are creating ripples in the fashion industry. With the ongoing changes, the industry might look entirely different from what we have known hitherto.
The woes of the pandemic:
The pandemic has posed as a watershed moment in the history of apparel industry by deprioritising expenditure in fashion to the lowest. In an ongoing global crisis, majority of the people did not spend on clothing as going out was restricted. The year 2020 saw a sharp decline in profits for the fashion industry.The situation calls for some tough decisions, innovation and adaptation to a post-pandemic world.
The social stir:
The past few years have been significant in churning the social status quo as well, by questioning the inequalities and redirecting changed in a more socially just way. The fashion industry could not have been isolated from these as it plays a major role in society by enabling people to represent their identity. Fashion has often been used as a sign of protest and assertion especially to those from marginalised communities- the black people, the queer community etc.
Based on these, there are numerous mega revamps in the fashion industry:
The move towards gender neutral clothing: For centuries society has boxed its people into two distinct genders- male and female. The entire functioning of society had been modelled on this distinction. However, with time people have come to find this limiting and constricting. Fashion had a major role to play in this by making genders look visibly distinct and dressing them up in the conventional masculine and feminine standards.With popular demand, the industry is now laying emphasis on comfort, and bringing out gender neutral or genderless clothing.
Not that men’s and women’s sections are going to disappear instantly, but the industry has taken a step in the right direction.
Sustainability: It is well known that the fashion industry contributes significantly to global pollution. Textile needs considerable resources to manufacture and become a finished product and a significant portion of the textile waste is non-biodegradable. The era of fast fashion is adding to it by changing frequently and making people’s wardrobes outdated in no time.
There is a drive among consumers towards adopting fashion that is long-lasting, use of products that are durable and remain in style, and towards brands that are sustainable in their products as well as their manufacturing process. Companies have also begun to use recycled material and novel fabrics to create their clothing.
Office-wear reimagined:The pandemic has blurred the lines between home and office and so clothes also need to surpass that distinction to suit the needs of work from home. There has been a significant shift to comfortable clothing as people are spending most amount of their time in their homes. There is growing preference for comfort over fashion, which has led to the growth of slow fashion and seasonless fashion.
Online shopping and AI:As with every other industry, the fashion industry learnt a lot about e-commerce during the pandemic. As customers were left with no alternative but buy clothes online during the lockdown, companies were forced to cater to online shopping and improve customer experience. Artificial Intelligence has proved to be very useful in this regard. Virtual reality hasalsoenabled users to virtually try outfits and rapid data analytics has allowed businesses to make quick decisions based on customer preferences.
The world of fashion is evolving, and for the first time in the right direction. We are witnessing very positive and inclusive changes in the industry owing to the coming together of technology, critical thinking and sustainability. These are bound to bring about changes in our own lifestyle very soon!