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​Can fashion rise like a sustainable phoenix from the flames?

Posted by Louise Napoletano on Jul 17, 2020

Sustainability

Fed up of hearing the phrase - new normal?  What if lockdown is the catalyst for a fashion forward future?  

Covid-19 has hurt every sector financially, and the fashion industry is no exception. Lockdown has sent seismic ripples of change across our planet and no matter what your background, cultural, or financial position, perhaps the one thing to unite our global community, is a new found appreciation for making the best of what we have.

So, will a more considered approach to what we actually ‘need’ linger, or do the post lockdown queues at discount, fast fashion outlets show that old habits die hard?

Whether it be shunning lipstick for a mask, slouching about in your cosiest sweats, trying your hand at sourdough, gardening or DIY, all whilst juggling the day job and home schooling, we have all had to prioritise and re-evaluate what matters most.

Being forced to use up items in the back of our pantries, adapt shopping lists to what is available at the supermarkets, helping those who are less fortunate or self-isolating; each little sustainable shift, chips away at the hard worn consumerist in us all. Perhaps leaving behind a fuzzy glow that lasts longer than the endorphin high of a new purchase.

Being faced then with massive closets full of ‘stuff’ and pondering over how we ever accumulated it all, leads us to question why we need to keep consuming? Over the past 70 years, technology has enabled us to live a life of convenience, however relying on finite resources is no longer sustainable. Lockdown has shown us what happens to our planet when we unplug and consume less; whilst the global economy has taken a nosedive, our natural world has flourished.

Whilst our planet has evolved, so must we learn from its shifts and apply them to our own lives. Lack of demand may have brought many businesses to a crashing halt, but it has also given us the opportunity to reflect, research and re-evaluate our choices collectively. Perhaps this development of a fashion conscience, may drive demand for a more sustainable fashion model, leading industry hard hitters to simultaneously burn up and be reborn like the proverbial phoenix.

Sustainability is not an alien concept, over the course of the last five years, the biggest fashion brands have done their best to lighten our consumer guilt through clever advertising and canny marketing campaigns. But what may have appealed before lockdown, may no longer carry weight. In a climate of nailing your colours to the sticking post and huge public mistrust of pompous claims, so called greenwashing – the cynical marketing of superficial ethical practices – is a risky move that cannot be sustained.

In a recent Harper’s Bazaar article Chris Morton founder and CEO of global-fashion search engine Lyst said, “The way in which people interact with brands and shop for fashion is changing fast. The Covid-19 crisis is accelerating shifts that were already happening in our industry and catalysing further changes.”

Just as post war architecture, art and sexual liberation reflected a global change, so perhaps will post pandemic fashion. Having had the time collectively to ponder what it is that makes us happy, what role community has to play and how a digital business can thrive in lockdown, so too will we see a rise of sustainable designers and new ecopreneurs like us, determined to shake off the old and breathe fresh, clean air into the fast fashion industry.

Be it circular marketplaces of preloved, recycled or upcycled textiles, new technologies that minimise the impact of dyes and fabrics on our water systems, or streamlined workforces that are accountable and ethical, never has there been a bigger appetite for fashion to grow up and take responsibility. 

If you’ve re-discovered an old favourite in the darkest corner of the wardrobe that has given a whole new lease of life to your basics, or braved a wardrobe detox and donated your ill-fitting jeans to a worthy cause, perhaps you’ve dusted off the sewing kit and repaired a much loved sweater? Whatever you’ve accomplished this lockdown, we’d love to share your stories and champion those who are making sustainable shifts.

Tag us in your stories or contact us louise@lulusfashionflair.com.au to join the conversation.