During the last weeks of shut down, many are trying to forecast the impact on our economy and culture that the quarantine is provoking on consumption.
Li Edelkoort is a Trend Forecaster, "It seems we are entering a quarantine of consumption where we will learn how to be happy just with a simple dress, rediscovering old favourites we own, reading a forgotten book and cooking up a storm to make life beautiful," she said.
Kate Larsen is a former Burberry executive and founder of social enterprise advisory SupplyEsChange. She says “more people may realise we don't need new fashion and apparel as much”.
The industry was believed to be unstoppable, yet it happened and the world is experiencing a moment without precedents.
Industries are stopping their production and many brands of the fashion industry are turning their focus from launching their latest collections to producing medical gowns and masks. Between those, there are brands like Prada, Gucci, the luxury conglomerate LVMH and many others which are making those efforts.
Donatella Versace and Giorgio Armani donated large sums of money to Italy’s busiest hospitals. The fashion influencer Chiara Ferragni has raised more than €4m for a new intensive care ward in Milan’s San Raffaele hospital promoting a crowd-funding project.
In this time of crisis, the fashion industry is collaborating in a responsible and empathic way but, spontaneously, people are asking themselves how it will be when our lives will be back to normal…do we go back to the same as before?
Several visionaries within the fashion industry are asking themselves: what kind of world do we want to design once the crisis is over?
Before the effects of the coronavirus, the global fashion industry was producing 150 billion items of clothing each year, for instance, 2 billion pairs of jeans are being produced each year. At the same time, the Ellen MacArthur foundation states that one rubbish truck of textiles is wasted every second. Behind the production of clothes, which is responsible for 10% of the overall carbon emissions, there is the matter of the unethical work which the overproduction stimulates and feeds. Those people are the ones who pay the bigger price now. Whilst the planet is celebrating the break from the heavy pollution which it has been constantly receiving.
Redesign with respect for the planet and the health of the people who work in it. Now this could really happen.
Katrin Ley, managing director of the sustainability accelerator Fashion for Good, says “The current situation provides an opportunity to reevaluate practices and may accelerate positive changes that have already been in motion”. She has reasons for being optimistic, thinking about the adoption of better technologies which will enhance the industry sustainability efforts.
The upgrading of practices can for example be the re-evaluation of the dependence on distant and global suppliers. The Guardian talks about reshoring, which may also reduce carbon emissions and other environmental impacts.
We can imagine that when the situation calms down, it will not be an automatic switch back to the previous system of non-stop production by looking for the most efficient system. Instead, we hope for a slow resumption of an industry which, to great lengths, will look for the safest and most prudent strategies.
Preparing the best initiatives for the future.
Julia Brucher, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Sustainable Style Collective provided a list of five things fashion retailers can do to prepare for the time after the Covid. Between them, the priority is given to sustainability, to become a core of the brand's values. In addition to that, she encourages the industry to “embrace innovation and try new things” as the crisis fosters new ways of working and innovation.
Technology startups which are dealing with some of the industry’s biggest challenges such as to achieve the UN Sustainable Development targets, can build strategies and nice perspectives together with the existing players in the fashion world. After this time of long reflection, perhaps people will be more sensitive and responsible about their impact, and that can boost the willingness to build more sustainable brands.
In the rush to return to normal, we must use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.
A study of a Stanford University scientist has been recently published by Forbes about the effects of the Chinese lockdown. The result is that by reducing air pollution from factories and vehicles 77,000 lives have been saved In China during the last two months.
Global Warming and COVID-19
It is important to reflect on how much our normal lives cost for our planet and what can be the next crisis we will face, for example the impacts of global warming.
If we had had years of warning prior to COVID-19 we would have put systems in place to ensure the effects would be minimised. In the same sense, we know the catastrophic potential global warming will have, and so we should take precautionary measures now and invest in sustainable technologies to avoid such a crisis occurring.
This must be an awakening. Things can escalate quickly (as we have seen). So act now!
Concerning our last moments of chaos...
The fateful virus is leading us to make many renunciations. Will also the fashion industry leaders renounce their fashion footprint?