This fashion month we saw a shift from largely digital mediums, a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, back to the moretraditionalformats that have dominated the fashion industry for decades. In this, we must ask ourselves to consider whether this is a positive or negative return to normalcy.
Anna Wintour has mainly remained vocal about how she believes Covid-19 has democratized the fashion industry with fashion shows streaming online, and the industry as a whole becoming more accessible and inclusive through this digitization. Covid and the subsequent digitization of fashion month pioneered some digital practices that will remain with the industry maintaining a hybrid model of sorts. However, as we see the industry reverting back to more traditional presentation styles like fashion shows with exclusive guest lists, we must consider the social implications of this.
Despite Wintour’s beliefs, fashion is still a largely exclusive field with a major diversity issue whether it is digital or in-person. Most major houses today are still run by white, affluent designers, leaving major gaps in racial, class, and size diversity. However, in light of the major revelations of our climate crisis, it seems that sustainability is one of the most pressing issues of the industry today, considering the carbon footprint of the fashion industry. In order to lean towards more digital platforms for fashion, we must consider the carbon footprint of this. We also must consider what it means for our planet for the industry to return in full force. It seems the cyclical nature of the trend cycle is largely responsible for the mass hoards of clothing waste, an issue which has only been further exacerbated by the rise of fashion Tik Tok and the subsequent acceleration of the already rapid trend cycle. Wintour and other designers are attempting to combat this issue by placing an emphasis on shopping vintage and pre-owned and even incorporating vintage designs into new lines. However, we must acknowledge that high fashion and the extensive archives which allow them to market these products are primarily a sustainable solution for the upper and middle class.
We find ourselves in need of both sustainable and economically viable options outside of fast fashion for those in the lower classes. We must also recognize the irony of extremely wealthy, privileged designers who have for decades lauded the overconsumption of the industry in favor of their hefty profits, now pivoting and preaching sustainability practices to the masses when many of their lifestyles are hardly sustainable themselves. By further diversifying the fashion industry, we can also tackle issues of diversity, equity. By diversifying leadership positions within the industry, we are moving toward a more equitable and sustainable future for the fashion industry.