The evolution of pandemic fashion

Fashion, now more than ever, is a form of self-expression and the evolution of fashion during the pandemic has only reinforced this statement. The beginning of the pandemic saw a gradual shift in color patterns, from dark, murky tones to sorbet, nude and almost minimalist shades. Skinny jeans were out; mom jeans were now vogue. The general public began to prefer more easy-going clothing now that they were stuck at home all day over tight, shape-fitting apparel. Influencers like Komal Pandey (@komalpandeyofficial on Instagram) used the increase in their engagement to empower their audience, using fashion as their catalyst to spread the message of self-love and expression. There has also been a revival of Y2K inspired fashion, accredited with the nostalgia experienced by many Millennial and Gen-Z influencers and content creators.

In the past few years of social media and fashion, the world has seen a shift in the paradigm. The construct of fashion being gender-specific has slowly been trampled upon by men trotting in twelve-inch heels. The increase in favor towards androgynous styles and clothing since 2020 has transformed fashion into something beyond its definition. Vogue’s December cover featuring Harry Styles sparked much controversy and discussion, with Harry Styles wearing a voluminous periwinkle blue gown paired with a black tuxedo jacket (both designed by Gucci). The ensemble paid homage to fashion icons well beyond their times such as David Bowie, Boy George and Prince. The photograph of Harry donning a dress expressed the growing exploration of gender fluidity, non-binary fashion and sexuality — a concept popular amongst Millennial and Gen-Z shoppers. Ezra Miller’s artistic choice of clothing is a true ode to individualism and self-expression and has only brought the world closer to accepting fashion as a powerful means of embracing one’s self.

The recent years have also seen a growth in the body-positivity and self-love movement, shining light on plus-size fashion lovers and influencers who are now making their mark in the fashion industry. Plus-size models such as Varshita T (@varshita.t on Instagram), who has modelled for Sabyasachi, have expressed their love for fashion and through it have empowered plus size women to embrace their beautiful selves.

Fashion is a living, breathing organism that evolves with time. Masks becoming an essential accessory hasn’t thwarted it from becoming a statement piece during the age of pandemic fashion. Color coordinating outfits and masks have become a popular trend. Not only this, the rising favor for accessorizing outfits with bandanas, chains, bracelets and more has become a run of the mill essential. It is now an unspoken rule: No ensemble is ever complete without an accessory.

It is through influencers like Emma Chamberlain (@emmachamberlain on Instagram) that young consumers of fashion have realized that fashion and money aren’t mutually exclusive and that it is possible to be fashion-forward all while being sustainable. Ethically produced outfits and small business have seen paramount growth throughout the lockdown. The raison d'être of any fast-fashion company is to reduce production costs and are thus located in countries with bare to any labor protection laws and regulations. Moreover, being one of the biggest industries in the world, it contributes to almost 8% of carbon emissions (UN Environment, 2019). It is axiomatic that fast fashion is a threat to the environment, its inhabitants and is a growing global warming trigger. Thankfully for us conscious consumers, countless brands are doing their bit to transform the fashion industry for the better.

(Vogue December Magazine 2020, Harry Styles dressed in Gucci, designed by Alessandro Michele)

(David Bowie, 1971)

(GQ Style November Magazine 2018, Ezra Miller in Salvatore Ferragamo, photographed by Yoshiyuki Matsumura)

(Varshita T, in Lea Clothing, photographed by Hader Ali)

(Dianne Keaton and Woody Allen in Annie Hall)

(Cher’s “Most Capable” Outfit, Clueless 1995)

Conceptualized By: Shreya Mahato

Authored By: Aditi Kiran