During our one-week Fashion Journalism course, student Bridget Knowles decided to explore what her perfect version of the Fashion Industry would be at a time when great change is needed…
Back to Basics – Future of Fashion
“Bridget, 2011 called- they want your outfit back.” It’s a Saturday night in East London and my 3 closest friends are over at my apartment. I’m honoured, yet blown away by the idea Boris thinks I’m popular enough to hit a perfect 6. My outfit for the occasion? An oversized tie-dye crewneck, a black beanie pulled low to my eyelids, and huge Rayban prescription glasses that are practically eating my face. My friends can’t look at me. It’s an outfit begging me to throw up a peace sign, pose a duck lip, snap it on my digital camera, then post it on Facebook with a caption of “peace love happiness <3.”
Behind all the One Direction posters I must’ve been planning to hang in my closet that night, I realized there was a lot to be said about channeling this 13-year-old version of myself. Pre-Covid times, fashion never stopped. It was history’s most toxic relationship between overproduction and over-absorption. It may be mutually agreed I was no fashion mogul at 13, but I was something the industry is turning back towards today. I was unapologetically myself. Tie-dye girl cared about her clothes and the role they played in her identity. She didn’t have to wonder what the next big thing was and how much more she needed to buy. My perfect fashion industry exists in that place of confidence. It exists in the importance of the craft, over the craziness.
Opulence, Excess, & Extravagance
We’re tired. The consumer appetite of Gen Z has no doubt given us one of the biggest trigger words in fashion today- fast fashion. In the UK alone, the average person spends £526.50 per year on clothes, a spending habit that contributes to an industry worth £35 billion to the UK economy. We’ve been trained to wake up every day to at least three influencers on Instagram promoting the same crop top-jogger combo paired with their fit tea that (they promise!) will help us lose weight. Fashion mutated into an industry that thrived off this. It was opulence, excess, and extravagance all perfectly crafted into one insatiable retail cocktail.
Then, Covid-19 happened. A superfluous industry stopped dead in its tracks. Retail sales in the UK dropped by 20% almost instantly. We didn’t need a Taco Tuesday “fresh fit” anymore, nor did we want replicas of every biker short Kim Kardashian ever wore. We were forced to re-evaluate our everyday lives as consumers and witness the doomsday we were blindly creating.
Our old age routine sparked new age conversations about what consumers today are really craving- comfort, security, identity, and meaning. Fashion is notorious for defining and redefining itself monthly. This time, we the consumers are changing as well. Gen Z is notably more environmentally and socially conscious of what’s happening to our planet. Of over 10,000 Gen Z’s across 22 countries in 2019, 41% listed climate change as the most pressing issue of our time and 90% believe it is the responsibility of companies to drive action on social and environmental change. We’re fighting for the equality history has never been able to create for us. We do it day by day, together. This is the new future of fashion.
A Return to Authenticity?
We have no sense of what retail is going to be in the next 10 years. What we do have is an idea of what we are going to do about it. I envision the future fashion industry as a safe space in which we can explore the individualism we’ve been buying off influencers for the last five years. Sustainability continues crowding headlines every season. Being fashionable is no longer something exclusive to the people who can afford it. We get back to our roots. In my case, I’ve brought back the purity of my 2011 self. In a larger sense, let’s let the world rediscover the raw creativity and universal authenticity it’s so greatly built itself on.
By Bridget Knowles, One-week Fashion Journalism student
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