DESIGN IN THE TIME OF CORONA
The current situation imposed by the COVID (I swear to God, I will try to limit the amount of times I write this word... I heard it more than my own name recently) is definitely bringing up to the surface new ways of consuming and experts are already writing down theories on what the future will hold A.C. (After Corona).
There are basically two theories. There are those who think that after this shit storm people will go back to shopping as if there's no tomorrow, in a desperate rush to bring back the economy but mostly to show their middle finger to the virus, happy to be back to normalcy in what is already called "revenge shopping" and those who think that these new habits, this new routine, this whole time secluded spent thinking will lead people to be more conscious in what they buy (investment shopping). Now, let's hope we're smart enough to go back to the latter...
Thanks Michelle. I think so too.
Along with demand, brands will have also to change their offer and therefore their business models. Starting from design itself. The search for comfort (YAY!!! PJ's!!!), protection and wellness will ignite a whole new world of design that will have, unlikely their ancestors B.C. (Before Corona), one new characteristic: purpose.
"Be loud about the things that are important to you."
2020 was supposed to be the year when the fashion revolution would set its foundation but for sure this whole bug thing has served as catalyst for an even quicker transformation that has shaken the very essence of the apparel industry for good.
Consumers are developing new priorities and only brands who will know how to adapt quickly will be able to survive. Driven mostly by younger generations like Gen-Z and Millenials (who per se are already a giant slice of the consumers base) , this revolution will have as result more investments in I+D to create new materials conceived to fulfill new buyers needs; the very essence of products will no longer be about the outside but their inside, their purpose and how they'll be able to connect with people. Remember when your mom told you "it's what's on the inside that counts"? Well, it was not bullshit. It's actually happening (thanks God.. I was gonna throw in the towel).
So, how will this translate into actual actions and therefore products?
First of all, there will be a huge rise in apparel that will be used to both protect and resist external factors. This will be translated into items that can help protect from extreme weather conditions (thanks climate change #MiddleFinger) to increase hygiene standards and function as shield from pollution, viruses as well as improve heath and wellness. Technology is not as bad as pictured if used mindfully and under zero-waste, energy-neutral conditions (OK...it might sound a bit utopistic but last time I checked, dreaming was free)
New items will also need to be revised to be useful for the new "way of life". Working from home will become a rule as well as taking care of oneself. Enhanced and tech-savvy lounge wear and active wear will be stronger than ever,
It'll all be about simple objects with a longer life, serving multiple purposes and bringing in a giant wave of sustainability in the fashion industry (finally... I mean, it was about %$@#ing time!)
Let's see more in details what this will look like....
>> HOME SWEET HOME
As we said, working from home and spend more time in the coziness of our living rooms will be more and more relevant and so will the the need for more "Bed to Zoom" wear. Items that are cozy enough to snuggle your puppy and watch the latest episode of Sex Education on your couch but that make you look professionally and socially accepted when you have to jump in that last minute call with your boss. Basics will meet style and fashion for the first time ever, creating actually a whole new fashion ecosystem of their own. Clothes need to be multi-function, durable and easily taken care of because #NetflixAndWork. Details kept to a minimum and for sure, with high value (no time to focus on useless sh*t, right?). Designs will have to be easy enough to be worn in the comfort of your house but loud enough to make a statement on the screen and shout silently "you're jealous of my new necklace Karen, aren't ya?".
>> THE MORE THE BETTER
Multi function and multi purpose will be the key words. Items will have to be technical enough to have more than one purpose, let alone no purpose at all. Lounge wear that's apt to turn into active wear, swim costumes that can be used as underwear or coats that turn into sleeping bags. All the work to be done design wise will have to focus on details and their modularity like removable hoodies, double layers, multi layering, etc... Basically you want your clothes to be useful at home, when working, when you're on holidays in Bora Bora or Nepal. The more durable and aesthetically pleasant, the better. Like partners should be (haha... sorry M., if you're reading this I'm kidding and I love you)
>> WEAR IT LIKE IT'S HOT
Singapore or Reykjavik, you can't change your clothes all the time and they need to be smart enough to be able to thermoregulate and be your best portable friend, switching from A/C to heating automatically. This is where technology will come in handy and I+D will be key. Natural fibers will be used in larger amounts for their ability to be breathable and their capability to be insulating. No more temperature wars with the house central heating: your clothes will have your back! A lot of technology has already been developed by major outdoor sports brands like Patagonia or Moncler but the new possibilities to explore are endless.
>> PAST COMFORT WITH MODERN INPUTS
In times of doubts and uncertainty, people will look for grounded, proved values and it's therefore the best moment to boost heritage and traditional products with a new fresh injection of technology and modernity.
It's time to invent but bet on evergreen products, timeless designs that will shout out their value without need of any marketing campaign. People will look for comfort and will invest more and more on forever-to-be-kept goods, some sort of "investment shopping". Consume less, keep longer. Sounds good, huh? This will be a key point to take into consideration if you want to address your efforts to Millennials but mostly to the powerful Gen-Z.
>> HEY, CAN YOU SEE ME?
As it's already happening, working from home implies also more digital hang out's: work meetings with your boss, job interviews, drunken nights with your pals bitching on your loud neighbors and then some (any reference to the real world is purely coincidental) .
It's tough though to find the best way to make a statement and stand out online: bad lighting, visual noise, not to cool backgrounds (your kids not helping leaving the equivalent of the Denmark production of LEGO bricks right behind you).
This is why screen-smart colors, that will stand out clearly no matter what your laptop resolution is, will be undisputed winners. Make it pop and make it instaworthy, influencers will become (maybe?) even stronger.
The idea is to recreate a small universe, your own universe, even from the coziness of your house. Self expression will be the leitmotif and people will want (and need!) to experiment more and more. The louder the better!
>> KEEP SAFE, Y'ALL
Climate change, virus, pollution... the external factors that can become a pain in the ass will increase (probably) and therefore we will need our clothes to protect us. Basically, the more "anti" you include, the better": anti-UV, anti-polluting particles, anti-in laws visits (if only...) as well as defense and shielding effects will be highly appreciated.
It's important to keep comfort first, by making different parts removable and highly resistant. Tomorrow is now: minimalist and sleek designs with silhouettes that will remind us of futuristic scenarios we are used to seeing only in movies. This is also another area where I+D will have a primordial role. Newer, more natural, more resistant, less harmful fabrics will be invented to make out of one simple jacket your unique tool of survival. Pretty rad I have to say!
>> SWEAT IT OUT
Confinement is OK, I mean, you can at least catch up on the episodes you never had time to watch, watch the whole "Friends" saga for the billionth time or become a tiny Master Chef. But this can easily become a problem when you spend 2/3 of your day cooking carbs filled food with enough calories to feed a medium sized city.
Athleisure, that has been ruling the fashion scene for quite a bit now, is not destined to die anytime soon. And now we need it more than ever! New materials, new comfort and new shapes... the offer is destined to be increased with materials that are preventing you from sweating too much and regulate your body temperature, fabrics that moisturize your skin as you run or that are even able to auto clean or make you sleep better. Name one thing, there's surely some investigation happening somewhere in the world.
>> HELLO, SUSTAINABILITY!
And last but defo not least, sustainability will become a major concern. For everyone. Rejoice, people!
"Less is more" will be (this time for real) the main motto consumers will abide by, going back to quality over quantity, sticking to durability and resistance, strong materials. Practical, versatile and with endless lives. Companies are already going towards this direction, with many orders being cancelled for SS20 / AW20 and are realizing that smaller SKU's ranges are necessary, more purpose-focused and true to the real business mission.
Big efforts on restructuring the existing sourcing and supply chain models will be demanded, pushing us to ask ourselves some serious questions on the ethics of the current fashion industry workings.
We are going through a self-conscious stage of reorganizing priorities, what matters and what doesn't, making sure we focus and invest only on essentials.
This will also imply more consciousness towards production and how things are made, going back to #CraftsmanshipGoals
It's gonna be about personalization and uniqueness, making items new again and creating something completely different from used and second hand objects. Circularity practices will boost local businesses and ideas, recreating a whole new dimension to communities.
Go back to your needles and threads people and give a second life to that torn denim sleeping in your wardrobe!