covid, sweatpants & clutch Bags
From August 6th at around 10am, anyone with a remote interest in the economics of fashion would have read Irina Aleksander's article Sweatpants Forever in the New York Times Magazine. Aleksander marks the 12th of March as the date where Trader Joe's lines surpassed the normal Thanksgiving day line-up length, and where fashion took its final plummet into the abyss of uncertainty/cultural change.
It was not a shock when Barney's got out of the Fashion world with a quick and declining exit. For years the industry has been counter-consuming itself with so many avenues of developing habitual purchasing behaviours. We evolved and shifted from the traditional brick and mortar stores, to huge department stores, experiential retail spaces, fast fashion, high-end luxury fashion, and then to virtually all online retail models.
Aleksander noted clothing sales by April this year had fallen by 79%, but in unsurprising statistics, sweatpant sales were up 80%. What do you do when the leading men and women in fashion are working on their laptops from home and wearing sweat pants? Surely the act of getting dressed up is mundane if you have no where to be. Dressing up no longer has that quality of wondering if anyone in the office will comment on your new shoes, or wonder where you got your top from. So that lead me to the question of who do we even dress for? Is it to impress others? To feel good for ourselves? How many pieces of clothing in our wardrobes are suitable for both style and comfort?
As much as I'd love to sit around in a pastel number from Marc Jacobs' Fall collection, it doesn't really lend itself to zoom appropriate attire - or home appropriate attire at that. This rejection of the traditional fashion system is leaving brands at both ends of the fashion spectrum wondering what the future holds. If people aren't consuming luxury fashion through the same physical and virtual touchpoints, are collections and runway shows even financially or socially viable? Aleksander also noted in her piece, a comment Marc Jacobs made during a virtual event with Vogue this year, he said 'When you're told to produce, produce, produce, it's like having a gun to your head and being told to dance, monkey!'.
A year ago on the streets of the West Village I quite literally stumbled into Marc Jacobs [and beyond it being a magical moment for my twelve year old self], he later sent me an Instagram DM saying how much he appreciated me stopping to chat. What we forget when we glamorise and push for the fashion industry to be just an economic turn over machine, is the time, effort and passion that designers from each end of the industry have for their brand and craft. With J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Brooks Brothers and J. C Penney filing for bankruptcy this year, the industry is set to self-reflect and adapt.
Not just within fashion but in the larger industry of moving parts, from design agencies to PR agencies, freelancers, stylists etc, the industry is seeing a shift in more accessible, approachable, personable and locally focused brands and designers. Whilst Made In The USA is not a new concept, it's certainly one that is driving a larger portion of the mass market and emerging designers right now. If consumer habits are changing to approach fashion in a more comfort and local business focus, brands and designers are following suit to bring transparency and usability to their products.
So what's the go with consumerism? If we are able to, should we be shopping online? Where should we shop to best help out our local economy and small businesses? Platforms like Clutch Bags Dot Com are a great place to start as they curate USA made brands into one space. Just head online, do some research and find some designers whose mission and ideas you relate to whether its sustainability, ethical, social or local. Don't forget to check out our platform and give our designers some love while you're here.