TimeCapsule for 2020 – What Changed and What to Expect for the Future by Aybuke Barkcin

Dear Shaded Viewers,

We are finally saying goodbye to 2020.

A year of a global pandemic with over a million lives lost, companies closed, record-low economic profits, increasing unemployment… Only two weeks left and we are already dreaming about 2021.

But let’s remember 2020 as a year when all the rules were broken, a year when creativity flourished and a year when the old systems finally shifted.

Here is a run-through of all that has changed in 2020, what to expect for 2021 and a trip down memory lane to remember all that has happened this year for fashion and culture.

The Fashion Industry Is Put Under the Spotlight

2020 was a year for reflection. As we were all locked down in our homes wondering which series we haven’t watched on Netflix, we had time to reflect on how much we have been harming the environment and for some of us perhaps, the virus felt like a punishment humanity received for hurting Mother Nature. At least, that’s how I felt.

Today we are thinking twice about the food we put on our table, the medicine our doctor prescribes us and the clothes we wear. The global pandemic accelerated the talks on sustainability and transparency in the fashion industry as more and more consumers demanded brands to take more sustainable measures to tackle pollution, energy consumption and waste. The latest SpringSummer21 fashion show included many designers who addressed the problem by using leftover and recycled fabrics, downsizing their materials and looks, incorporating vintage pieces in their collections… But for the consumers, more has to be done to win their hearts.

But it would be wrong to characterise this year only by the pandemic. This year also marked a huge step towards social justice and equality for people of colour as the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor sparked mass protests all across America for Black Lives Matter, provoking a domino effect which was felt all around the world.

The cries for justice and equality were also heard in the fashion industry. The public began to call out brands for appropriating the culture of people of colour while the lack of diversity behind doors continued, stories of unequal treatment of black employees were shared across social media. Established names in the industry, most famously Anna Wintour, were called out for not having done enough for diversity. The result is more and more consumers demand transparency and diversity. The movement is just beginning.

Collaborations Full Speed Ahead

Collaborations are a great headliner. Raf Simons with Sterling Ruby, Dries Van Noten with Christian Lacroix, Louis Vuitton with Supreme, Dior with Hajime Sorayama… A win-win game for both parties. Brands get to make huge profits by offering one of a kind, exclusive items for their consumers, while the artist/designer receives massive exposure and a new audience. The artwork which was once hanging on the wall in a gallery is now worn on a body and walks on the street. It gains a new movement and life. Of course for some, it is still an art piece which shouldn’t be worn but collected, kept in a closet far away from the eyes. While for others, it should be worn, enjoyed and adorned.

This year collaborations were taken to another level and the level I am talking about is the one between Travis Scott and McDonald’s. Artists making collabs with Nike, Adidas, Puma for sneakers and sportswear seemed to fit, but I must say when I first heard that the Texas native rapper would be making a limited edition meal for the world’s biggest fast food chain, it didn’t add up. However, I was proven wrong… A genius idea for an artist to distribute his creative vision into the global mainstream by associating himself with a commodity product rather than an exclusive luxury one. Somehow it feels genuine and right. Perhaps in 2021, we will line up for limited edition drinks by artists at Starbucks.

Escaping in the World of Gaming

There is no doubt that gaming sector is only going to continue to grow. It’s a hub for the young generations to connect and build their own worlds. New technologies open the door to new experiences and brands like Balenciaga, Gucci, Moschino, Valentino are just starting to explore the possibilities.

Gaming is an interactive medium which requires participation, fuelled by curiosity and the desire to escape reality. To discover a new world where you can make your own rules. Perhaps you can’t afford the latest collection by Balenciaga, but if you are fan, then playing the “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow” would only stimulate your interest to discover more of Demna Gvasalia’s world.

It seems as though Balenciaga found the answer for the million dollar question on how to create experiences online. The future for connecting with GenZ is gaming.

Turn Your Heads Towards the East

The luxury players already have huge investments in Far East Asia, particularly China but with the economic losses brought by the pandemic, the luxury market is waiting for a lifesaver to be thrown, and it seems that they expect it to come from the East rather than the West.

The economic strength of Far East continues to be a reliable source of profit for brands, as life seems to be almost back to normal in the region due to the weakened impact of the pandemic. The biggest move towards China this year came from LVMH’s crown jewel Louis Vuitton when Virgil Abloh decided to present his menswear S/S21 collection to a live audience in Shanghai and LVMH announced that it would be holding an exhibition titled “See LV” in the city where the coronavirus was first identified Wuhan China, as a celebration for the city’s bounce back from the pandemic.

Other big players followed. Valentino announced that for their upcoming collection on Dec. 19th, they will be holding an interactive experience in Shanghai. While Dior by Kim Jones staged a viewing party in Beijing for their local ambassadors on the Fall21 collection, which featured Kenny Scharf’s version of Chinese zodiac signs and jade jewelry designed by Yoon Ahn. Monclear recently revealed that they will be hosting a physical event on September 2021 to launch the next round of Genius collaborations in China.

The bets on Asia will only grow bigger and bolder in the following year.

Stay Positive As Advised by Fashion

Sweatpants were the star pieces this year. Not by choice of course, but most fashion brands seemed to understand the new necessities due to the pandemic. Post-lockdown collections were toned down. Less pieces, more comfort but still with style. After all, we are all rethinking about how much we buy and today, less means more. We want quality over quantity.

The sad news is we we can’t help but wonder when we will have an excuse to dress up again. It is hard to imagine when it will be safe to go to clubs, hang out with our friends for a drink at the bar, go to a concert, see a movie… But despite it all, fashion wanted us to keep our hopes up. Brands chose to present a hopeful future, colorful palettes and reasons to dress up again. Some taking inspirations of their escape in their remote getaway homes, some from the darkness of reality… Ricardo Tisci presented a sea-centric Burberry after spending time in Lake Como with his mother while Versace created its own Atlantis world where diversity and body-positivity were celebrated. For Dries Van Noten, he chose to collaborate with artist Len Lye on a collection full of colorful, psychedelic prints evoking beauty.

But just as Rick Owens proved with his collection “Phlegethon”, the winners of this year were the brands who addressed the current state of the world; their perceptions about the pandemic and wishes for the future. Delivering clothes for the real world. The ones who pretended to turn a blind eye lost this match and they will continue to lose in 2021.

Are Fashion Weeks Over?

If the pandemic showed us one thing about the fashion industry, that is how conservative the industry really is. 2020 will go down in history as the year that changed it all in fashion, just as World War II did once. Old systems must collapse for new ones to be born and the pandemic did just that. It pushed brands to reinvent new codes for communicating, presenting and selling. This year was a great opportunity to break all the rules and do your own thing.

JW Anderson explored the realm of physical touch by creating “show in a box” which he sent to his clients to play with. A box filled with quotes from Oscar Wilde, paper dolls of models dressed from the latest collection with background photographs by Lewis Rowland.

Other brands like Chanel, Fendi, Valentino decided to stick to traditions and presented their collections with a runway to a live audience while a live stream of the event followed. Other designers like Ricardo Tisci for Burberry, Hedi Slimane for Celine and Rick Owens showed us that there no limits to where a runway can be, perhaps in the depths of a forest, in a football stadium or in front of a palazzo while Donna Summer plays in the background.

But the winners of the post-lockdown shows were the ones which gave us a glimpse of what the new normal may be in the industry and they all explored the depths of digital mediums. An embrace of different forms of storytelling, whether it is a virtual game by Balenciaga, a short film by Raf Simons or a week long mini-film festival by Gucci.

As Alessandro Michele said, the industry’s aim should be “to set clothes free” and not have them “imprisoned in shops anymore”, to find new mediums the clothes can exist in, away from the racks and stores… because with the pandemic still on the rise, we won’t be visiting them anytime soon.

A Trip Down Memory Lane 2020 Fashion and Culture

Jan. 8th – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announce they are stepping back from their roles as Senior members of the British Royal Family.

Feb. 10th – Parasite by Bong Joon-ho wins the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film, becoming the first South Korean film to receive Academy Award recognition.

March 2nd – Demna Gvasalia presents his Fall 2020 collection for Balenciaga with an emotional show about the consequences of mankind’s lifestyle.

March 11th – Harvey Weinstein is sentenced to 23 years in prison for sex crimes, a landmark moment for the #MeToo movement.

April 14th – LVMH announces to distribute the prize money for The Young Fashion Designer Prize to all 8 finalists in an effort to ease the economic pressure caused by the pandemic.

May 13th – Dries Van Noten, Altuzarra CEO Shira Sue Carmi and Lane Crawford president Andrew Keith organizes a series of Zoom talks with industry’s leading figures and initiates the “Open Letter to the Fashion Industry” which proposes a new plan to transform the way industry works. The letter is signed by many designers including Gabriela Hearst, Craig Green, Tory Burch, Proenza Schouler.

May 25th – Gucci announces that it will be skipping fashion week and present seasonless collections.

May 25th – Mass protests begin in Minneapolis and later spreading all across America for Black Lives Matter after George Floyd dies in police custody.

June 10th – Anna Wintour sends a letter to her Vogue employees admitting that the magazine failed to include more black creators.

June 26th – Kanye West’s Yeezy and GAP strike a 10-year deal to reboost sales of the American apparel line.

July 21st – Pierpaolo Piccioli presents the Haute Couture show for Valentino in collaboration with Nick Knight.

July 31st – Beyonce releases “Black is King”, a visual album which presents the pride of African-diaspora, a celebration of the Black culture.

August 6th – Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton Men Spring/Summer21 show debuts in Shanghai. The Creative Director is accused of copying Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck’s work.

Sept. 3rd – Travis Scott unveils his collaborations with McDonald’s called “Cactus Jack for McDonald’s”

Sept. 9th – Kim Jones is named Artistic Director for Fendi overseeing the womenswear, haute couture, and fur divisions of the brand.

Sept. 17th – Burberry starts off the first digital London Fashion Week with Spring/Summer21 collection with a livestream on the Twitch app.

Sept. 22nd – The first Milan Digital Fashion Week begins with an opening from Fendi, the first show without Karl Lagerfeld’s designs.

Sept. 24th – Raf Simons and Prada present their first Spring/Summer21 collection during Milan Digital Fashion Week.

Sept. 28th – Former head of Elite Model Management Gérald Marie faces a legal investigation in France due to reported claims of rape and sexual assault.

Sept. 29th – Saint Laurent’s Creative Director Anthony Vaccarello announces plans to collaborate with designer turned artist Helmut Lang on a series of his artworks for the Saint Laurent stores.

Oct. 1st – Rick Owens presents his Spring/Summer21 collection entitled “Phlegethon” which takes a unique view on the status of the world.

Oct. 4th – Matthew Williams presents his first collection as the Creative Director of Givenchy receiving criticism for the lack of female creative directors in the industry.

Oct. 6th – The 12th edition of “A Shaded View on Fashion Film” festival begins with 36 films in competition, 11 documentaries, 2 out of competition films, 6 student films, 15 films in a collaboration with Artsthread.

Oct. 9th – The grand prize for ASVOFF 12 goes to “Everything Is Fake Until It’s Real” by Colm Dillane for Kid Super.

Oct. 16th – The much anticipated Japanese anime “Demon Slayer” hits the big screen, becoming one of Japan’s highest grossing films of all time.

Oct. 22nd – Gucci debuts its “Off the Grid” collection for the Sims4 game.

Oct. 29th – MET “About Time: Fashion and Duration” opens its doors for visitors.

Oct. 31st – Louis Vuitton’s “See LV” exhibition opens its doors to visitors in Wuhan, China where the Covid-19 virus was first identified.

Nov. 9th – Vans and Timberland buys the streetwear cult brand Supreme.

Nov. 13th– Harry Styles becomes the first man to appear solo on the front cover of Vogue challenging traditional style norms.

Nov. 16/22nd – Gucci presents the Guccifest, “Ouverture Of Something That Never Ended” a mini-series featuring the latest collection by Alessandro Michele and directed by Gus Van Sant and Alessandro Michele, featuring 15 short films from emerging designers around the world

Dec. 6th – Balenciaga debuts its Fall21 collection with a virtual game “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow”

Dec. 12th – PANTONE reveals the colours of the year 2021 ‘Ultimate Gray’ and ‘Illuminating Yellow’

Dec. 14th – Center for Global Policy reveals evidence from Chinese government documents and media reports which shows that hundreds of thousands of Xinjiang ethnic minority groups are forced to pick cotton by hand as part of alleged labour transfer programs targeting Uighur and other Muslim minorities in the region, raising concerns over the abuse of human and labour rights.

Dec. 15th – Conde Nast announces Anna Wintour will become the Worldwide Chief Content Officer and Global Editorial Director of Vogue, giving her more power over not just Vogue USA but more than 30 magazines around the world.

Dec. 15th – Conde Nast announces Edward Enninful will become Vogue’s European Editorial Director.

Aybuke Barkcin

Aybüke Barkçin is an art director, photographer, curator and writer that looks at fashion through the lens of political and societal dynamics. She completed her master's Creative Direction in POLIMODA, Italy and has a background in International Relations and Graphic Design. Her work can be found in her website: https://www.aybukebarkcin.com/