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Consumption: what will the Covid-19 crisis change?

By Julia Garel


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In this time of crisis, on social networks, in our personal conversations and in the press, a question about fashion often comes up: will we still need it?

On Instagram, fashion journalist @Abou_sega asked his subscribers about the future of fashion and shared a varied panorama of answers. One follower replied, "Have we ever needed it?" while others talked about changing things, sorting things out, limiting consumption... Despite their diversity, most of the responses agreed on one point: that of change and evolution. Philosophers and futurologists agree with this view: the almost total shutdown of the economy will leave its mark on the way we consume. If the changes towards more responsible consumption were already in place, "these behaviours will be multiplied by 100", says Vincent Grégoire, director of the inspiration division at the Nelly Rodi agency (brand strategy consulting) and contacted by FashionUnited.

"I think that individuals, by force of circumstance, will put things into perspective, there will be another relationship to time, money and others. We're in a resistance phase, we're going to be resilient, to learn lessons and then imagine a rebirth," says V.Grégoire. A discourse shared by Li Edelkoort that the crisis will highlight what is no longer right in our society and will make us slow down (BoF Podcast).

Altruism and citizenship

In recent weeks, luxury brands and groups have multiplied initiatives to participate in the fight against the pandemic: mainly mask manufacturing and financial donations. V. Grégoire applauds these initiatives which, even if some may be criticized, denote concrete action and resistance. "Fashion forgets its mercantile, futile side" he explains by telephone. This altruistic spirit echoes the awakening of French citizens. Philosopher and psychoanalyst Cynthia Fleury explains that we are rediscovering that "collective behaviour protects us from individual vulnerabilities" (Rtbf radio). In the newspaper Libération, she calls for "preserving the common responsibility rediscovered during this confinement where we live solidarity through distance".

New behaviours

According to V. Grégoire, at the end of this crisis, four types of behaviour will emerge. First, there are those who will want to repair and who will challenge consumerism; those who will want to control everything "the copies"; those who will imagine a bubble of wonder, a new paradise in a hippie tech and feel good spirit; and then there are those who will want to throw it all away, those who are outside the system, those who advocate partying, celebrating the absurd and nonsense.

Anyway, "individuals are taking back power with new values, more sharing, more attention to each other, and to the environment. We are going to start a new consumer society," says V. Grégoire.

As for the stylistic reflexes to come, V.Grégoire already notes certain details: hipsters shaving their beards to avoid nests of germs, and a demand for tattoos linked to the epidemic, with funny viruses. And, of course, a new culture of masks. Never before have the post-apocalypse looks of French designer Marine Serre been so in vogue.

"We're going to start a new consumer society"
- Vincent Grégoire

The local, yes, but with values

To the question of local consumption, V. Grégoire gives a nuanced answer. Yes to local purchasing, but with brands that have convictions, commitments, solidarity and sharing. "It's not just a question of making Made in France to be Made in France, there have to be real values behind it. For the moment there was mostly greenwashing, now people want the truth, they want to be able to trace, they want transparency. There is a real human and humanist dimension that will come out of all this, although, unfortunately, there will be people sacrificed because it is an unequal crisis."

The "winning" sector

Unsurprisingly, the home world will, potentially, come out a winner," explains V. Grégoire. The fashion industry isn't a "priority", except for the category of people who want to celebrate and throw it all away (see above).

However, the homeware category is promising. The culture of comfort will continue to develop. "Dreamwear, homwear, software, we appreciate what will be comfortable, fluid, agile and at the same time desirable, with the integration of new technologies, a responsible approach, plus CSR," says V.Grégoire. However, nothing is written and "those who will come out of it will be the most agile, those who will adapt the fastest, it's Darwinian".

At the end of the interview, when asked about a podcast or webinar to recommend, V. Grégoire points out the creativity of Mr. and Mrs. Everybody on the networks. Admiring the humour and derision of people, he confides that he is delighted by the abundance of videos and images made with the means at hand, dealing with the subject of toilet paper and the occupation of children at home. Touching and spontaneous initiatives that finally say a lot about us.

Keep up-to-date with news on how the coronavirus is affecting the international fashion industry by clicking here >>

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.FR, edited and translated.

Photo : Unsplash

Vincent Grégoire