A note from our team about COVID-19

What Does Ethical Fashion Look Like In A Post COVID-19 World?

by: Rosie Dalton | 2 months ago | Features

Image: Amber Valletta in Stella McCartney’s Mother Earth themed summer 2020 campaign. Image source.

Ethical fashion has been gaining momentum over recent years, but as the current healthcare crisis forces us to rethink our purchasing habits, the question becomes: what will ethical fashion look like in a post COVID-19 world?

Some experts believe that pressure on the bottom line will cause sustainability to slide down the priority list. While others argue that this moment of transition in the industry could spell positive opportunity.

“The current situation provides an opportunity to re-evaluate practices and may accelerate positive changes that have already been in motion,” says Katrin Ley, managing director of the sustainability accelerator Fashion for Good. 

Meanwhile, Lewis Perkins, president of the Apparel Impact Institute, argues that “if [a brand’s] sustainability programmes are deeply entrenched into [the] core business, it’s less likely to go.” Which suggests we might finally see less greenwashing, as fast fashion brands buckle down on the bottom line.

If Business of Fashion’s State of Fashion Coronavirus Update is anything to go by, though, brands will have to slow down in order to survive. “It’s time to rewire the fashion system,” BoF writes. And Dutch trend forecaster Li Edelkoort agrees. In fact, she views COVID-19 as a representation of our collective conscience. “It teaches us to slow down and to change our ways. 

When this is all over, Edelkoort is optimistic that we will be able to “completely reset society and make a new world… [to focus on] what is essential, what is not and how [we can] create new systems which will be much less polluting.”

Taking all viewpoints into consideration, it is likely the conservative experts are correct in saying that big brands focussed on commerce-first may abandon their so-called sustainability efforts, in favour of cutting costs. But I believe they will do so at their own risk, as consumers move away from trend-driven dressing and become more conscious about how they are spending in a post COVID-19 world. 

If the shift in consumer purchasing patterns is any indication, then the future of ethical fashion looks bright. In fact, it looks like the new normal. 

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