A shift in fashion

How a global pandemic changed fashion

Is there a new roaring 20s on the horizon?

Two girls walking
The pandemic had an influence on trends in the industry,
Louise Koninckx Louise Koninckx

After the Spanish flu ended in 1919, a global pandemic that followed after the devastations of WWI, people felt a need to go out and celebrate life as it once was, and how it could be again. What followed was a decade filled with flapper dresses, silent films, jazz music, and some iconic parties. Right now, we are living under the direct result of a new pandemic, that has shaken up the world and all different industries in it. As history tends to repeat itself, a question arises; what will happen after the COVID pandemic ends? And is there a new roaring 20s on the horizon?

In terms of fashion, the pandemic has had a major influence on certain trends in the industry, and it is sure to say that the state the world is in today, is shaping the trends of tomorrow. At first, fashion was forced to slow down; everyone was staying at home and therefore were prioritizing comfortable clothes such as joggers and house slipper. However, after almost a year of sitting back and following classes from their couch or working in their beds, people feel the need to go outside again.

This sense of escapism has fueled society to communicate with the world again. We have come to live in a time where going to the supermarket is an opportunity to dress up and make an impression. The comfort of isolation gave people a feeling that they could wear whatever they wanted and do whatever they wanted to do because there’s no one around to judge them. This sense of confidence gave people a boost to experiment with different styles and versions of themselves.

A future of escapism

We can see a renaissance of creativity and innovation as the result of people sitting at home and having more time to focus on other things. Crochet hats, knitted bags or beanies, and embroidered sweaters are a few examples of people taking fashion into their own hands – literally.

People are expressing themselves in new and authentic ways, with bold and bright colors to fight against the heaviness of a dark time. In the future, expect to see things get funky; we will see bright colors like pink and green, and reflective materials such as metallics, glitters, and sequins.

A future of escapism
A future of escapism

The time we live in right now is in close relation with certain events and movements that sparked changes in the 60s and 70s. If eras are similar, styles are going to be similar as well.

Throughout the year 2020, there have been riots and protests as a result of people being angry at the government for not handling the pandemic well and locking them inside their homes. Secondly, having to stay inside gave people time for personal development, time to come into themselves and get comfortable with who they are. Both these kinds of movements mirror life in the 60s and 70s.

Taking inspiration from those eras, we will see chunky shoes and platform heels, miniskirts, colorful tights with bold patterns and abstract lines. Groovy pants, wallpaper flowers on dresses, belly chains, psychedelic prints, and the use of free-flowing fabrics like silks and satins.

Romanticizing the past

Besides the obvious clothing pieces that have integrated into our closets directly because of the pandemic – think masks, gloves, or any kind of protective wear – there are multiple other fast-approaching styles in the fashion industry. As we look to a hopeful future for fashion, we also draw inspiration from the past, romanticizing life like it used to be. People look back on the renaissance as a golden age of European art and culture in combination with luxury fabrics such as silks and lace.

Outerwear as underwear is a trend that has been around for quite a while now, but there will be a shift to wearing actual lingerie as everyday clothes. We’re talking corsets, girdles worn as skirts, ruffles, vintage floral prints, baby doll dresses, nightgown dresses, and so on. Tops and pants will be spiced up with flossy strings and small straps attached, to give a romantic and flowy feel.

Romanticizing the past
Romanticizing the past

Reconnecting with nature

Lastly, nature will be one of the major inspirations in the future of fashion. While everyone was sitting at home, people got a chance to reconnect with not only themselves but also with the environment around them.

‘Second skin’ clothes, which are bodysuits and tops that lay so close to the skin they can be seen as a second layer, is a huge trend that falls under this umbrella. They show off the natural body shape and can be sheer or made out of funky colors and patterns. Secondly, hiking has become the number 1 activity to do during the lockdown, and therefore, hiking clothes like body warmers, puffers or fleeces will come back in style. Western-inspired clothes like riding vests and cowboy boots are also a part of this trend, usually seen with an eclectic styling or aesthetic.

Reconnecting with nature
Reconnecting with nature

To conclude, COVID has definitely pushed the fashion industry in a whole new direction. Drawing inspiration from what was once forgotten, to learn of our past mistakes and making time to care for ourselves and our surroundings, for a better – hopefully covid free – future.

Louise Koninckx

A student from Belgium. Interested in fashion, politics, and exploring new cultures.