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While We’re Social Distancing, What’s Happening to Fashion?
12 Jun

While We’re Social Distancing, What’s Happening to Fashion?

I’m not even the least bit ashamed to admit that most of my fashion over the past three months has been with comfort in mind. In fact, between you and me, yesterday was the first time I’d left my home in those said months, and it was for a doctor appointment. While I’ve bought some new clothes, its been garments that are much more attuned to gardening and outdoor adventures with kids than my usual garb. I can’t be the only one with heels on timeout, and with boutiques largely still closed to the public, one has to ask: What have been the effects of COVID-19 on the fashion industry?


Boutiques Have Gone Online and into Exclusive Facebook Groups

Many of the purchases I have made have been through deals offered by boutique owners in private Facebook groups. Owners then offer shipping or as allowed, contactless pick up or delivery. This has been a great way both to support the small business owner and to continue to update a wardrobe. There is, however, one thing to be aware of: Many boutiques are discounting prices in place of a return or exchange policy due to concerns about sanitation.


Fashion Is Largely Functional

While I’m a huge fan of form, function is taking the front seat. Pockets, easy-to-wash (if I don’t have to send my partner out to run errands, I’m not going to), and humidity-friendly so I can be outside a lot this summer have taken a front seat. We’ve seen masks that make statements start really showing up in social media feeds. That’s definitely an example of form rushing to meet up with function.


Sustainability Takes a Front Seat

Sustainable fashion has been a needed thing – and now it’s starting to get more of a stage. People are starting to look in their closets more to see what they have that they can remix or upcycle. Things they can’t do that with have been finding a second life thanks to sites like Poshmark, The Real Real, and ThreadUp. We can expect to see more of this as production for fashion lines are more impacted by the virus, economy, and shutdowns.


Are Virtual Fashion Shows Coming?

It’s still a bit early to predict what will happen to the traditional fashion show with the rise of COVID-19, but don’t be surprised to see more virtual fashion shows in the wake of the virus. In “How the Covid-19 Pandemic is Affecting the Fashion Industry,” published on May 12th, 2020, Elle Magazine points out that Shanghai Fashion Week was a completely digital event, and that designers posted their new collections via website and social media.


Indie Brands May Get a Lift

With major brands less in the forefront due to social distancing policies limiting shopping activities, small independent labels are getting more of a voice. According to the May 12th Elle Magazine piece, many of the independent brands have been doing their part to aid with COVID-19 relief efforts. I’ve certainly seen this in many of the local businesses here in Wichita, so it doesn’t surprise me that many fashion brands have been doing the same thing.


The End of Some Brands and Boutiques

Unfortunately, we will see the end of some brands and boutiques. Clothing sales have fallen, and rental fees for shop spaces still must be paid. Despite many efforts to transform their selling platform, some brands just won’t be able to make the digital transformation and some styles and clothing types may become temporarily obsolete (think the wedding dress industry in a time when gatherings over 10 aren’t advised).


What changes have you seen?

Ronda Bowen

I have been working as a full-time freelance writer and editor since 2008 when I decided that while I rather enjoyed philosophy, the Ph.D. program I was in was not a good fit for my life goals. Since then, I have published many papers and articles, started two blogs, worked as a senior editor for a magazine, served on the board of a start-up non-profit organization, and walked across fire.