Fashion + The Global Crisis

What the Coronavirus really means for fashion

What our media and fashion industry are (and are not) telling us about the Coronavirus.

For the past few weeks ‘coronavirus’ has dominated our media’s headlines. Every second, minute and hour, a new piece of information or advice is put out into the world. We know everything there is to know on the coronavirus (thanks to the media, we are all now experts). But, how much of what we are being told is true? Has this information really been amplified enough?

Where it all began

What started off being a virus from a far away place, has became a global pandemic. Starting in China, it travelled across the globe, which the media covered from the very start. As the virus inched closer and closer to home, the media amped up their coverage. The UK anxieties began. But, with coverage being quite superficial from the start, the impact of coronavirus became questionable.

Once the UK cases started to increase and deaths became prominent, the Prime Minister started to set out guidelines for people to follow. The media then helped spread these guidelines. So, if everything was being explained to us in plain English, on plenty of platforms, why was no one following the rules? We saw more and more people complain that guidelines weren’t being followed. Guidelines from the government were not strong enough. Everyone had (and has) their opinions.

People continued to travel, go shopping, go the gym, everything we were advised not to do. We were told to only go out if it was essential. But the media never expressed the importance of these guidelines. With a lot of uncertainty on what we could and couldn’t do, people were still going about their daily lives, still working in fashion.

Some say complete lockdown, which essentially means not going out of the house (and more) happened too slowly. However, the government said they chose to do it at the perfect time. For many of the businesses that had to close down, no lockdown will ever be a good time, but the prolonging of it helped them massively. Although, the media hardly covered the reasons why businesses had to stay open as long as they could. And, at the same time, they did not discourage people shopping during the time businesses were still open.

Why could the media be portraying a distorted view of coronavirus?

It is hard to ever understand why the media do the things they do. Every journalist has their own opinions, thoughts and choices. In such a confusing, uncertain time, we can’t expect the media to give us complete certainty when no one is certain on anything. We can expect truth. The media may choose to leave out certain facts or information simply for our own sanity. With so much scaremongering going around, it is essentially the media’s role to try and keep some sort of peace within society. So can we fully criticise the media for not knowing everything when it comes to this situation. Could they just be trying to keep communities, businesses and people safe?

What this meant for the fashion industry

Retail stores closed. With many fashion businesses struggling to keep their employees and their sales up, the fashion industry began (and still is) struggling. Luckily, in today’s society, the internet lends a huge helping hand. Online fashion businesses flourished but workers in the fashion industry did not.

Not only are the stores affected but the experience we have with clothes are too. London and Paris Men’s and Couture Fashion Week was cancelled (as well as many more fashion events), drastically putting a halt to the way the fashion industry works.

Fashion magazines also will struggle due to the Coronavirus. With the government orders to stay home, how will magazines produce photoshoots with models, how will they be able to choose clothes from showrooms? Consumers, designers, models and more will struggle to exist in a society consumed by this virus.

Similarly, when you look inside your clothes and you check the label, where do the majority of your clothes come from? ‘Made in China’ is a phrase we all recognise. But, as China was on complete lockdown, the fast production of clothes for many brands halted. But even those not manufacturing directly in China are feeling the impact: the World Trade Organization reports that the country is responsible for 37.6% of all global textile exports, so the shut-down is stalling production around the globe. 

Is there a positive for fashion?

In hope of lifting spirits during this incredibly hard time, we have seen a number of positive knock-on effects that have arisen from the situation. We have seen massive improvements in water and air quality in the UK and excessive waste has cut down.

But what are the positives for the fashion industry? We worry so much about the impact of fast fashion. We care more today about how unsustainable the fashion industry can be. But, could this global pandemic change the face of fashion for the future?

Designers could begin to produce their clothes locally rather than globally. A new routine of collection launches in shops could be established, changing the fast fashion structure. Less pressure could be put on workers. Even though this virus is causing so much harm, there is always a way to find a positive in so much negativity.

How can we help this be a positive for the fashion industry? We can stop buying unnecessary items – we are stuck indoors, you don’t need a new outfit to sit in the house. We can take this extra time we all have to establish new fashion habits. And once this craziness comes to an end, who says these habits have to stop?

A fun idea for you all…

And, a tip for if you really are bored and have all the time in the world… who says you can’t make your own clothes and accessories? Or, do some research and find small independent designers trying to start their fashion businesses and buy from them. These are hard times for everyone and we can help out others and go that step further to make sure we are doing better. Or, at least thinking about how we can do better.

We can keep fashion alive.

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