On February 22nd, Boris Johnson’s address to the nation brought a ray of hope for all of us currently facing a national ‘stay at home’ order across the UK; the promise of “no legal limits on social contact” and the much-anticipated opening of nightclubs could be as close as June 21st.
Enthralled by the prospect of a date, many took to Twitter to express share excitement in the way we all do best: with memes.
From jokes about how June 21st and the ensuing week was going to be fresher’s week for the whole of the UK, to wishing they could sleep through the lockdown and wake up in June, it’s safe to say people were feeling more than excited for that first ‘Big Night Out’.
A very prominent topic all over Twitter feeds was outfit planning with people already thinking about exactly what fiery look they will be serving on the big day. In response to this trend, Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing have even dedicated a section of their websites to June 21st outfits.
However, not everyone on Twitter was convinced by the June 21st date. This is unsurprising given the number of government U-turns that have occurred since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic and the recent disappointment surrounding the celebration of Christmas and New Year in 2020.
In addition to this, Boris Johnson has said that the roadmap will ultimately be focussed on “data, not dates” and the rise of a new concerning variant of Covid-19 originally found in Brazil threatens to throw another spanner in the works.
So, should we be planning our style meticulously for June 21st or should we take the roadmap with a pinch of salt and watch how things progress? I think it’s not as straightforward as a yes or no answer.
For many, the prospect of preparing for these dates has brought a long-awaited prospect of structure and optimism. The process of outfit planning could be a great boost for people, especially because of the sense of purpose it provides, and I think there is nothing to be gained from dismissing the excitement surrounding June 21st.
However, what concerns me is the commercialisation and co-opting of the big day by fast fashion brands.
Many might see the June 21st style trend as a perfect addition to the celebratory mood, but the reality is that to meet this demand, companies like Boohoo will have mass ordered clothing from factories and will need these orders to be turned around quickly.
This means the clothing will have a short life cycle and is also likely to be made under poor and unfair working conditions, with garment workers working long hours tirelessly for poor pay.
Short-lived and precarious fashion trends like the “June 21st” trend have the potential to be lethal to people and the planet. If the new outfit is worn on June 21st, it is likely to be a one-time wear given the singularness of the occasion and the way it has been branded.
If June 21st starts to look less likely, the outcome is no better. Orders for the bespoke June 21st outfits will fall and fast fashion brands are likely to panic and cancel orders as they did during the early stages of the pandemic. This will be another fatal blow to the livelihoods of garment workers.
So, if you want to plan an outfit for June 21st, I think you should go for it and have all the fun you want in preparing – God knows we need something to look forward to – but do so with the people and planet in mind.
Get creative and upcycle some of those lockdown-induced ASOS orders, put together your very own fashion project to work on for the next few months; I promise it’ll be very fulfilling and very much worth your time whether we are back at SWX this June or not.