CORONAVIRUS: FASHION CATASTROPHE OR REBALANCE?

Written by: Chiara Salomone, on 12/04/2020.

(N.B. Translating this article was absolutely awesome. I had the chance to work on so many different structure and translation techniques. Hope the result tells how much I worked on it)


CAN CORONAVIRUS BE CONSIDERED THE UNIVERSAL DELUGE OF THE FASHION WORLD?

Despite the widespread panic, anxiety, economic hardship and the threat to human lives, it seems that the Coronavirus pandemic has also led to a surprising gift: we have slowed down

I believe that, with this slowdown, we have reached levels of awareness, clarity and perspective that will forever change the way we live, buy and sell.

The first week of social isolation, at home with no chance to go out, I would have expected to feel bored and constrained, but on Sunday night I realized it had been by far one of the best and most relaxing weeks I have had in a long time. 

Like many others, my family worked at a frenetic pace. 

My partner, my little girl and I always lived with the thought of “having to do”.

We’ve been talking so much about taking more time, enjoying our home, cooking something special, but we never really did.

Coronavirus arrived and suddenly we had TIME and our apartment began to feel like a lived-in home, rather than a “place to sleep”.

We finally prepared that special lunch, we remembered what taking care of your home means, we realized we have a terrace, in essence, we slowed down.

With this pause, I saw people much more clearly, energies and objects that were part of that constant “doing” but that I didn’t want in my life.

This feeling has also shifted to the relationship with purchases. 

In my closet there were several dresses, perhaps just by chance, that I had clung to for years, probably for fear of lack. 

Read also: The meanings we wear: clothes say a lot about you

Coronavirus arrived and they quickly moved from the closet to the trash (donation). 

On the contrary, I have been thinking about particular Gucci loafers for a long time, but I kept hesitating about the fact that they are too trendy and expensive. 

Coronavirus arrived and it suddenly became clear to me that my wardrobe would not be complete without them, they represented my new perspective.

This has been my sunjective and highly personal experience, but it can be analogous to how the fashion industry can also be influenced by this new clearer and more balanced perspective of our needs.

We have all lived so frantically, in confusion and using a less and less clear vision, but as we slowed down thanks to delays, cancellations and isolation, what may have seemed grey suddenly became clear.

Journalists ask questions focused on risk and danger to get clear answers: if you ask your interviewee what he or she values most about his/her life, it will be difficult for him/her to answer; if, instead, you ask him/her five things that he/she would save if his house was burning down, clarity comes instantly.

Psychologically, we can experience this kind of lucidity and clarity only by facing very difficult situations: contacts with death have very interesting effects on the brain. The things that once troubled us, worried us or annoyed us, no longer seem to matter. 

This, being a difficult moment that inexorably brought us closer to the idea of death and the transience of life, pushes us to reflect and create the positive change required to generate lasting benefits in our life, in our closets and in our activities.

These changes can be seen in line with what theology has taught us using the accounts of global cataclysms. Think about the Great Flood and Noah’s Ark in Genesis: the purpose of disasters, in these stories, is to rebalance the world.

I do not want to minimize, justify or be deaf to the financial upheaval caused by the break forcibly imposed by the Coronavirus.

There is a lot of pain.

People are losing their jobs. Companies are suffering, even the strongest.

But considering the inevitable collective mental changes that the pandemic has caused, we need to look ahead, try to stay agile and guess what we can anticipate.

We need to delve into the psychological and behavioral changes that are central in this moment of transition.

Here are three:

1. SELF-KNOWLEDGE WILL KILL MINDLESS CONSUMPTION

As this rare and dramatic pause allows for a new perspective on what is materially essential, people will leave this period with a clearer understanding of themselves, who they are, what they want and what objects are in alignment with their Ideal Self. 

This means that we need to give consumers a clearer reason why we are creating, promoting or selling something. 

In part we are already seeing this change: retailers, industry experts and influencers have changed the content of their messages and are working to find more specific advices, such as what to wear during the time spent at home.

See: Influencers and new opportunities during Covid-19

2. WE WILL BE HUNTERS AGAIN

We will (really this time) invest more money in fewer items. 

Armed with this new awareness of ourselves and our true aesthetic sense, we will be motivated to pursue what we really want with a new ferocity. 

Making a similarity with the past: hunters show strong preferences in choosing  their prey, while foragers have endless fun looking for objects and collect many different things, for any eventuality. 

To date, in most cases, our purchasing system was close to the attitude of the collectors, but we will probably see a change: with new algorithms and personalized indications, born from the necessity to inhibit confusion, the need for collection will decrease and we will turn into hunters again.

3. UNNECESSARY REVIVALS OF OLD BUSINESS MODELS WILL END

The virus has been tough on even the strongest companies (Nike could experience a $ 3.5 billion decrease in revenues in the current fourth quarter of 2020), but it has been a real scourge for those who were already struggling. However painful, Covid-19 is and will be a watershed: if on one hand it will eliminate what is too old and slow, on the other it will encourage new and increasingly flexible business models.

THE CUSTOMER IS THE REAL PROTAGONIST

We cannot miss the opportunity to use this time to harness clarity, presence and perspective.

This will be an important change, which should bring the customer figure back to the center of fashion programs.

Shifting the focus on the real needs of consumers could lead to a great economic benefit and a sustainable and ethical fashion concept.

Companies that win, will be the ones putting human being at the center of everything, be it a customer or a collaborator. 

In this sentence the winner is the one who has the clarity to understand the real priorities.

This does not mean that the leadership will be completely biased towards indulgent, understanding and tolerant human beings. 

History tells us with inexorable clarity that it is precisely during tough moments, and this undoubtedly is, that people, like companies, need guides capable of making courageous decisions, who know how to run the risk of sometimes unpopular choices, but saving and productive.

AT THE END WILL WIN THE ONE WHO HAS THE COURAGE TO ACT AND DOES IT BY SUPPORTING CHANGE AND PROTECTING THE DEEP VALUES OF THEIR SECTOR.

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