2020, the year of Covid. The year of ‘wear masks, save lives'. The year that social and cultural movements, racial injustice and environmental crises were bought to the fore. The year our planet took a break, or according to some more holistic theories, sent a message to the masses to hold back on long haul flights, petrol usage and meat consumption. Never before have we as a race had more time to ponder our ethics, consumer choices, morals and [let’s face it] ignorance than 2020. [Is it Christmas yet?!]
As with many industries, fashion brands have had to reconsider their game plans with heightened speed. Fashion weeks have shifted exponentially; Editors who once flew without a second thought to four cities over one month are - probably to their relief - now confined to watching the catwalk and predicting next season’s trends in 2D.
A fantastic result from this - aside from the obvious effects on the environment - is that we’re also being asked to ‘shop small’. At this end of the scale are small brands making waves with an elite, Gen Z following. Swimsuits made out of fishing nets - great! Rucksacks crafted from plastic bottles - Sure! Bamboo undies - Hurrah!
Team TLA has both seen and posted a plethora of Instagram stories encouraging followers to seek out independent shopping outlets. Influencers such as Aja Barber and Venetia La Manna are calling brands out and holding them accountable at every step of the way [think big, affordable shopping outlets with celeb faces] and people are taking note.
The trouble with this urgent introspection and brand reflection is that for the majority of consumers, shopping small, independent and ethically is not always possible. Understandably, the more locally sourced groceries and clothing brands come with a bigger price tag, and so the pushing of forced examination can sometimes appear insensitive, or at worst, snooty.
To go back now on the leaps and bounds of 2020 now would be, at best, irresponsible. For many mainstream bigger brands, small changes from the top down have started to trickle through. A middle ground is emerging, and last week’s ban on plastic straws and cotton buds in the UK is testament to that. But for many, is ‘going circular’ or ‘offsetting carbon emissions’ enough? Or simply putting a plaster on the wound?
What do you think; will you be considering altering your fashion choices? Repurposing an old dress into a snazzy scarf? Shopping charity & vintage? Maybe you’re already there. Remember that trying to be too much of a hero can result in anxiety and fatigue, and that even making a small change is still a change.
NB. this piece is a cultural comment and doesn’t reflect the views of an individual at TLA.