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Edited by: Madhumitha Arivu Chelvan

Let’s admit it — the pandemic has taken a toll on us, and we’re still facing the aftermath of it (*coughs* too anxious to socialize). Admit the fact that we all tried cooking and baking recipes from Tik-Tok. Endlessly scrolled on social media to look at memes that probably helped us through the entirety of last year. Binge-watched TV shows AND rewatched all of them. To spice up my boring life, I even watched Dance Moms! 

Throughout quarantine, feelings of isolation were prevalent. Surprisingly, some found comfort in clothing and fashion to combat the dreadful loneliness. Months of being in absolute solitude resulted in many exploring various styles, be it undergoing extreme makeovers or personally tailoring their closet to their newfound needs. Fashion developed in interesting ways during the pandemic — let’s take a look at how that went! 

1. Down the Nostalgic Runway

Most of us were trying to distract ourselves from what was and still is happening. Personally, I found cleaning my closet to be a mode of distraction. Finding old pieces of clothing articles and trying them on invoked a feeling of nostalgia within me, a recurring feeling I’ve felt over the due course of my confinement. As I recall how it all began, I have memories of dressing up in the evening as the entire neighbourhood clapped and acknowledged the work of the frontline health workers.

The year 2020 wasn’t really focused on creating new fashion trends, but they popped up anyway. These included the recent popularity of the retro style, choosing comfort over style, and concentrating on accessories like the mask to draw the public’s attention towards the situation’s gravity. Moreover, there was an emphasis on uplifting underrated artists and their products and sustainable fashion, seen in the runway walks in early 2020.

2. Gradual Uprising of Sustainable Fashion 

While dressing up and online shopping is stress relieving for some of us, we don’t realize the damage the fashion industry causes to the environment. 

“We didn’t respect the planet until now, and in a way, this [pandemic] is a message, and unfortunately, it’s a very, very heavy message. A change had to be done. Everyone thought that the change would happen gradually, but that’s not the case. Change has to be done now, and done quickly” (Vogue, 2020). 

Over the years, the secondhand clothing market has been perceived as worn out and tainted. As of recently, though, this perception has changed; many consumers (mainly the younger generation) consider secondhand clothing to be superior. It has helped local businesses to thrive and in recycling and reusing clothes. Thanks to growing consumer demand and rising resales digital platforms such as Tradesy and Poshmark, the digital sale market is quickly becoming the next big thing in the fashion industry. Yes, in other words, sustainable fashion is on the rise. Like Natalie Tomlin, the spokesperson for Threadup, says, “Consumer demand for both value and sustainability have been two of the greatest drivers of the resale market throughout the past decade.” 

3. Rebranding Personal Style over Latest Fad 

Like I mentioned before, I like most others — spent time trying on clothes and creating outfits. I remember a friend of mine mixed and matched different pairs of shoes. While it sounds ridiculous now, it could be the drip in the coming years. The idea of carefree aesthetic and ditching outdated so-called fashion rules helps one find a sense of style to express oneself. It could be adding a new colour to our wardrobe or trying something new. We have all found a sense of freedom when it comes to perceiving our personal style. While many think that we’ve found comfort in wearing sweatpants, people like Larivée predict that post the pandemic, sweatpants will be relegated to the back of our wardrobes. Experimenting with clothes may be here to stay. 

4. Face Masks: Making An Item of Necessity Fashionable

Face masks are an article of clothing that have grown increasingly popular over the last year. In Asia, face masks were already in popular usage, with people wearing them regularly for reasons like protection against pollution and allergens. In 2020, designers began using reusable material to make facial coverings that go hand in hand with their signature pieces. Designer Lirika Matoshi now sells masks (with 100% proceeds going to charity) that match her famous strawberry-print dresses. Designer brands like Gucci, Fendi, Balenciaga, and Off-White have also released their versions of designer masks. The indie upcycled brand Room Shop Vintage has started stocking cloth face coverings that match their print tops and oversize scrunchies.

5. Influence of Social Media in Extravagant Fashion Cultures

Social media platforms like TikTok have offered an enormous community to several fashion enthusiasts during these trying times. One of the few viral videos was about various aesthetics like the e-girl/e-boy, cottagecore, light and dark academia, soft girl/boy aesthetic, and many more. 

We took our time to determine our taste when it comes to clothing. And more importantly, we realized that we don’t have to stick to a single category but are encouraged to experiment and shake things up a bit; the more unique and personal, the better it is! 

While the entirety of last year was a roller coaster for most of us. Over the due course of my confinement in my room, dressing up didn’t entirely help me cope. However, it did provide a distraction from the mayhem happening. Trying on different clothes ultimately calmed my nerves down. Sometimes, it’s okay to shut everything out for a while and focus on yourself. Sometimes, all it takes to appreciate the present is to look at different forms of art, be it clothes, songs, books, or even cooking, to forget the mayhem that happens outside. 

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Ruby Roy

Manipal '24

Just keep swimming
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