Fashion + The Global Crisis

Corona Chaos: Make or Break for the Fashion Industry?

In a world full of previous distrust from governments during elections, specifically the Brexit election which saw the Leave.EU campaign claim that we send £350 million a week to the EU, and that we should spend that money on the NHS. A statement which was later addressed by government officials as a misrepresented statement, we should take the representation of the pandemic from the politicians and mainstream media with a hint of skepticism – but can we deny that this is an infection affecting people globally? 

Whether we are being distorted or disillusioned, this infection has reached all corners of the globe and seems to be creeping up closer to us day-by-day. With the UK now in lockdown, our economy is going to be put under stretch and small businesses are struggling, but is being told to stay at home just a means of keeping us safe?

Why didn’t they act sooner?

If the virus was as deadly as the media make it out, why didn’t supermarkets close down completely and allow the government to take full control? They could have organised smaller numbers of people from each council in every area to deliver supplies to families which would save people travelling out to stores and having to come into contact with people.

Governments are asking us to protect the NHS, yet Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of The Lancet stated on Question Time last week, that the staff don’t have the correct equipment to deal with the virus. Therefore, if they knew how serious this virus was, which they did because it had been circulating since the outbreak in China in January, why didn’t the government act sooner and ensure an action plan was in place? 

Surrounded by negativity

In terms of mainstream media, announcements, and updates seem to be 24/7. When I first wake up in the morning and check my phone I get notifications from the news app about the coronavirus information I might have missed through the night.

It feels like the whole world is surrounded by negativity and no matter which way you look, you’re faced with a new statistic. It’s being over-publicised to the point it’s the only thing we can focus and concentrate on, and God knows what that’s doing to our health. 

Unknown retail impact

However, what we do know is that the environmental impacts in the face of the coronavirus pandemic seem bleak and revenue plummeting at every level of the fashion supply chain. The high street will struggle because retail impact is very much unknown.

At the end of last year, Forever 21, one of the biggest fashion retailers, announced its bankruptcy and departure from the high street. Therefore, we have to question whether brands will be forced to focus on paying bills rather than making investments during this economic struggle. If they are, sustainability will be less of a priority because money will need to be made to keep them in the market place, encouraging a further production of fast fashion. 

A blessing in disguise?

The supply chain doesn’t work without one thing, and that is us, consumers. Amid all this chaos and confusion, life in lockdown may just be a blessing in disguise. According to The Guardian, the global fashion business was producing 150bn items of clothing each year, a scary statistic considering there’s only 7.9 billion of us on earth.

With nowhere to go and no fashion trends to follow, nobody really needs to look put together, unless you’re working from home, and being seen wearing the same outfit when walking the dog isn’t as embarrassing as we thought it might be. Is this a chance for us to reflection on our buying habits and appreciate our clothing for its real purpose? 

Slow down in fashion consumption

My biggest concern is that we are so used to consuming as a society that not doing it makes us want to do it more. All over social media I have seen people expressing how they just want to get back to normal life, but when we do return to our everyday routines we need to remember how important it is to be a conscious consumer.

It’s a challenge reducing how much you buy because we all want to use clothing to express ourselves and unleash our identity, and buying something new and luxurious gives us that satisfaction. However, if we have been able to make do with our clothing for a few weeks; I’m pretty sure we’re on the right path to slowing down our consumption. 

Distorted or not, what this infection has taught us is that we can live slowly and consume less. Fast fashion has been an ongoing issue for several years and with everyone stuck at home, it gives our earth a break from landfill and CO2 emissions, which might just be what it needed. However, time can only tell if our high streets will recover. If they do, they may just rise prices of clothing and will the broke cash strapped consumer be happy to pay, or will this put a nail in the coffin of the fashion industry for a time? 

By Beth Shaw

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