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Art of Style

What does the future of fashion really look like?

Christopher John Rogers’ FW20 presentation

From the closure of factories worldwide during lockdown and the ambiguous future of fashion shows to consumer tastes transforming overnight, the aftermath of the global health crisis will be felt for years to come. Here, NET-A-PORTER’s global buying director ELIZABETH VON DER GOLTZ and fashion director KAY BARRON contemplate what this might mean for the future of fashion…

NET-A-PORTER’s global buying director Elizabeth von der Goltz

“The current situation has been extremely tough on fashion as an industry, with bricks-and-mortar stores, factories and fabric mills all being forced to shut down for months on end. The domino effect these closures have had on both production and deliveries will be felt for at least the next two seasons. My hope is that, going forward, there will be more respect for each step in the supply chain.” Elizabeth von der Goltz

“More than ever, the focus will be on delivering the right product at the right time. It is not the end of fashion seasons, but the seasons need to be in line with what customers want to wear and exactly when they want to wear it. Historically, in testing times, creativity prevails, so designers may push their boundaries further, which is a prospect that excites me.” Kay Barron

“While fashion shows will continue to be relevant to some houses as a seasonal showcase, this situation has encouraged brands to think creatively. The world of the digital presentation has been developing over the past few months and, while there is still trial and error, it’s an exciting way to project a vision and collection into everyone’s homes. Prada’s series of films entitled The Show That Never Happened was especially successful, as the four films by different artists was inspired by storytelling, while perfectly presenting the collection in detail. I doubt fashion weeks and shows will return in the number and magnitude that we have seen, and I don’t think they should. This is an opportunity to think outside the box – for designers and the audience alike – changing our perceptions on how fashion can be viewed.” Kay Barron

“We have seen a significant increase in certain areas. As a result of salon and spa closures, beauty products have seen the biggest growth worldwide; sales show self-care has become increasingly important to our customer. From the spike in sales of beauty tools and devices – Angela Caglia’s Cellreturn LED Wireless Mask has been a best-seller – to high-performance skin and haircare brands such as Dr. Barbara Sturm, Augustinus Bader and Philip Kingsley, we can see that customers are finding new ways to recreate their favorite treatments from home. In keeping with this, other categories that have been outperforming are loungewear, pajamas and sportswear – with running proving to be the lockdown workout of choice.” Elizabeth von der Goltz

“Never have ‘investment pieces’ been so appropriate. During lockdown, for the most part, people’s personal day-to-day style relaxed, and loungewear, denim and comfort wear became essential. But it made us miss the art of getting dressed up, even if just for ourselves, and how mood-enhancing it can be. Not only have handbags by powerhouses such as Gucci, Loewe and Saint Laurent been selling well during lockdown, jewelry has also become one of the top-three most-searched terms on the site, with fine watches and statement earrings – perfect for video calls – proving particularly popular. So, as we move forward, we will continue to buy the items we love, but the focus will be on forever pieces that we will continue to love long after this pandemic has become a distant memory.” Kay Barron

“At NET-A-PORTER, we have adapted our buy to reflect the new normal, but without losing sight of the fact that our woman still loves fantasy fashion; it’s about getting the balance right. While we are scaling down some of our travel offering due to the current global restrictions and general apprehension around tourism, we’ll definitely be increasing our offerings when it comes to categories like loungewear and statement tops. We can tell from our sales figures that our customers are ready to start dressing up again.” Elizabeth von der Goltz

“The fashion industry was looking at its practices and responsibilities before the global health emergency and knew that changes were long overdue. This has accelerated the urgency. Across the board, everyone has had time to pause and reassess what is being produced – and how. And I believe the majority are ready and willing to make necessary changes, whether that is the production chain, the volumes created or the materials sourced. We may also see a return to the focus on craftsmanship and artisanal skills, reviving some parts of the industry that were almost forgotten.” Kay Barron

“I hope we see a return to out-of-the box thinking and approaches to design – and how the collections are presented. Fashion will forever remain an integral part of our lives, and for those who love it, its power to strengthen how we feel about ourselves is almost more critical than it was before.” Kay Barron

NET-A-PORTER’s fashion director Kay Barron