07.04.2020

A strange time to be writing a piece about fashion.

It is a topic that seems very far away since the coronavirus has largely brought work and leisure activities to a standstill across much of the world. Always fast out of the blocks, trend forecaster Li Edelkoort made a statement about this on 9 March in which she described the future as a result of the current situation as follows:

— "It seems we are massively entering a quarantine of consumption where we will learn how to be happy just with a simple dress, rediscovering old favourites we own, reading a forgotten book and cooking up a storm to make life beautiful."

It goes without saying that being obliged to stay inside and work from home is not hugely inspiring when it comes to standing in front of the mirror and choosing a perfectly styled outfit every day. And especially not in the households where partners and children are also working from home all day long. You probably quickly fall into the pattern of wearing the same tracksuit or something similar every day. Your clothing or appearance is not very important. In one fell swoop, the coronavirus has changed our daily lives and in all expectation our future too.

Fashion always looks ahead. It is therefore no coincidence that this changing world, a world that is suffering from developments that are out of control in every field, has been reflected in designers’ work for a long time already. The clothing industry is a good example of this, as one of the largest and most polluting industries across the entire chain, from the use of raw materials to transport and sales. It has all become far too big to change easily; it is an industry that supports many people.

Bonne Reijn, winner of a Dutch Design Award in 2019 in the category Fashion, saw different times approaching. He founded the brand Bonne Suits in 2014. As a reaction to the fashion industry, he wanted to use his designs to emphasise the personality of the wearer. He created a series of very simple and comfortable cotton suits, based on work clothing, ‘The Poor Man’s Suit’. One unisex model at an affordable price and available in sizes from XXXS to XXL. First in black and white, later also in other colours. The suit is so simple that the personality of the wearer will always stand out. He launched a new version in 2018, based on the same sense of simplicity, The Rrussie Suit, for which he won the award.

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Things can go very differently in these times of corona and in the future. Perhaps you fill the long days entirely online with work, friends and family, but also with your interests. You sit in that tracksuit, in front of a screen, looking for new worlds.

Amber Jae Slooten, nominee of the Young Designer Award 2019, is a designer of digital fashion. She displays the clothing using avatars in unreal surroundings. Using algorithms, she designs the non-existent clothing that is available to buy via her digital fashion house ‘The Fabricant‘. Customers can see themselves as an avatar wearing the new clothing exactly as they would like to look. The first digital item of clothing to be auctioned was sold in New York and was one of her creations. It was sold for an amount of 9,500 dollars!

As such, these young fashion designers create two worlds that seem to be complete opposites, but both send out an important signal for a new future. This is the power of fashion, also in the time of corona.

Liesbeth in ‘t Hout, DDA jury member and committee chair in the category ‘Fashion’