What Will It Really Take To Fix Fashion?

Eighty years ago, Selfridges closed for the first time since its 1908 founding, after being badly damaged by German bombs during the Blitz. As the Second World War raged on, dozens of Paris’s grand couture houses shuttered, including Balenciaga, Schiaparelli, Chanel and Madame Grès, while textile and clothing manufacturers throughout Europe stopped production. Women’s fashion shifted from the languid glamour of the 1930s to sensible attire in demure tones. “We wore suits,” movie star and devoted couture client Olivia de Havilland once told me. “You married in a suit.” Since then, fashion has endured some hard knocks – the crash of 1987, the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the SARS epidemic in 2003, the 2008 financial crisis. But no incident impacted the fashion industry to the degree that the Second World War did – not until spring of this year, when the Covid-19 pandemic forced us into self-isolation. As in the 1940s, the industry came to a halt, but this time globally, and as we sheltered in place we again chose sensible, comfortable clothes over high design. “I have seen a lot of difficult situations in my long career and this has been the most devastating event, not just for fashion and luxury, but all industries,” Domenico De Sole, chairman of Tom Ford International, told me in June. “I talked to a lot of people and nobody really saw it coming. No one expected that this would spread all over the world so fast. The impact has been unbelievably painful.” Read more at Vogue.