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London, United Kingdom – The Covid-19 outbreak marked major disruptions in the global fashion chain, from the garment workers left destitute in India and Bangladesh, after retailers in the West canceled orders to companies that had to temporarily close physical establishments to spread the virus. “This pandemic is going to be one of those collective experiences of complete change… It seems [there has been] such a memorable shift in perception and [in] the way we all think about life, “said BoF editor-in-chief Imran Amed.
For both Amed and BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks, this period of uncertainty gave industry an opportunity to reassess the way it operates. “This industry is so important, it’s so big … and there’s so much opportunity to do things better,” said Amed. “We have a moral responsibility to do better as an industry.”
- Blanks first realized the magnitude of the health crisis after the return of Paris Fashion Week. “3 March [the last day of Paris Fashion Week] was the day when you could feel the storm clouds had really come into fashion … there was a sense of tremendous, ominous power, “he said. Even though the lockdown measures have eased and designers set their sights on a repeat of fashion shows in September, the sense of uncertainty still looms. “September is not in our hands, we don’t know what’s going to happen in September or January … I think the situation is incredibly volatile,” Blanks added.
- Like many industries, the fashion industry has used digital tools to continue working in the age of social distance, from virtual showrooms and live streaming to online fashion shows. For Blanks, the allure of sitting in the pews of an elaborate runway show, just inches from visual masterpieces, can never be duplicated on screen. However, he also acknowledged that the reaction of the brands and designers to the disruption of the fashion calendar using digital presentations was’ really interesting, [especially seeing]… how many different creative sensitivities approached the same challenge. ”
- The pandemic and political unrest have accelerated the conversation about responsibility in the fashion industry. More than ever, brands are called upon to address the lack of diversity and inclusion within their corporate structures. “This momentum for change cannot be inferred, it cannot be quiet. It has to go on and I think fashion should be part of… the solution and not the problem, ”said Blanks. “The most crucial challenge for the industry is inclusivity … it must be more inclusive and embrace … Opportunities must be the same for all.”
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