The fashion industry changed in 2020. Here's what we hope to continue to see this year

Updated 03 Jan, 2021 11:33am

Maliha Rehman

The reign of the coronavirus, it seems, is yet to be over.

—Photo courtesy: Khaadi's Instagram
—Photo courtesy: Khaadi's Instagram

A lot of us have spent most of the past year in a comfy pair of pyjamas. The coronavirus up-ended life as we knew it and changed a lot that we had enjoyed, including our love for fashion. The expensive designer handbag lost its appeal in the face of colossal medical bills.

And the latest designer-wear, showcased on a virtual catwalk, didn’t make sense when you had nowhere to go and all you needed was a clean pair of pyjamas.

We’re all looking forward to a heroic vaccine that will swoop into our lives and quell the coronavirus and with this hope, the world has slowly began to revive.

Some of us have dared to begin making plans, hoping that soon our socially distanced existence would be a thing of the past. A lot of us have ventured out to a vacation or two, to the few locales that are allowing tourists in these tricky times.

And then, right around the time that we wondered if we’d be needing a new wardrobe for our slowly reviving social calendar, in classic horror movie style, new variants of the virus began to emerge.

The reign of the coronavirus, it seems, is yet to be over.

Keeping this in mind – but hoping that the pandemic will come to an end sometime this year – here’s what we hope to see in the local fashion circuit:

Timelessness over trends

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Nothing can ever beat a well-tailored, classic design and being cooped indoors with a virus running wild truly made us realise this.

There was no point to the latest trends since by the time you got to wear them, they would already be passe.

Also, with the economy in a perpetual crunch, avant-garde experimentation just doesn’t fascinate as much as a beautifully stitched shirt or an heirloom shawl, worked with neat indigenously crafted details, never going out of style.

Mind you, not every atelier has the finesse and vision to create exquisite, timeless pieces and usually, they aren’t exactly inexpensive.

Then again, if we want to splurge, we’d rather do so on a design that can be cherished and worn again and again rather than one that goes out of style in the next few months.

Personalised statements

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Designer-wear may be great but a personalised design is the ultimate fashion statement, as exemplified by Bakhtawar Bhutto on her engagement.

The bride opted to wear Nida Azwer but she owned her outfit with the means of a handworked shawl that was etched with miniature images from her life, past and present.

It was so much more than merely an engagement outfit and one could sense brides to be taking note. There’s a chance that we’ll be seeing a lot more customised designs in the coming year.

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Of course, this is a luxury that can only be afforded by an affluent few. But it does make for some very interesting statements, even if you’re merely scouring the social pages via Instagram.

The minimal touch

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The new world order has made it essential that parties be limited to small numbers and it’s changed our sartorial requirements. The heavily embellished, bling-infested outfit is making a lot less sense, replaced by elegant, slightly more understated options.

Pre-corona parties and weddings used to boast colossal guest lists where you could razzle and dazzle – but now, in a party of ideally less than 100, you’re just going to look overdressed.

Outfit repeats

The world is spiraling towards its end, mortality rates are rising and it’s highlighted the need for all of us to start living more responsibly. This means that a lot of us have started to make ethical changes to our daily routines; perhaps, by using biodegradable products, saving water, planting more trees and on the sartorial front, by repeating our outfits.

Fast fashion, available at affordable prices on the high-street, may have ingrained itself in our lives but the mounting piles of clothes, thrown away at the end of every season, are contributing to environmental pollution immensely.

Also, ultimately, everything boils down to money and the economic travails endured through 2020 has slashed down our wardrobe budgets and inevitably made us wear our clothes more often, again and again.

There’s nothing wrong with doing so. Major celebrities, like Sajal Aly, have stressed the importance of living more sustainably. The British royal family – we know them better than ever now, thanks to Netflix and The Crown – repeat their outfits all the time. And besides, in a world weighed down by disease and heightening levels of poverty, there is so much more that we can spend on, other than clothes.

More basics, please

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There was a time during the coronavirus’ initial reign of terror when shops were closed off altogether. Even online retail wasn’t available. It was a desultory time when we truly came to appreciate the convenience of a simple, comfortable cotton kurta. Or the ease of a basic white shalwar.

The high street reopened soon and with it came the usual slew of seasonal offerings; the complicated unstitched lawn suits, the embroidered kurtas and the luxe silk outfits.

There’s no denying their appeal but more than anything else, we heaved a sigh of relief that we could go back to restocking all the essential wardrobe staples that we had been missing.

It would be great if the high-street kept coming up with more basics in the coming year; crispy plain shalwars, pants and kurtas. When we’re locked down and the going gets tough, it’s really all we need to get going.

We’re rooting for local!

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Businesses have been struggling to survive and a lot of ateliers have been unable to weather the economic crunch of the past few months.

Simultaneously, the upsurge in online retail has led to more small-scale local brands surfacing on to social media and some of them particularly stand out with their distinctive designs.

It will take a while for these brands to build their market in the competitive local market and for others that had closed down, to resume their businesses, and we’re here to support them!

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It doesn’t take much to support a small business or a newly formed local brand: sometimes, merely a vote of confidence on Facebook can go a long way.

And often, an outfit, purchased online, can be great and completely different from the usual, generic fare available on the high street.

Masks aren’t going anywhere

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As long the pandemic is still around, it’s likely that we’ll still be masking up for a while longer.

An entire range of funky, fashion-savvy masks are now available in the market and we’re counting on seeing many more options this year.

The wonderful world of the solo fashion show

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2020, for all its many flaws, did us all a favor and halted the endless deluge of fashion weeks. Instead, once the initial panic had subsided, small-scale, exclusive solo shows began to emerge.

Designers opted to invite a niche audience to view their latest collections, selecting locations and décor that followed a single, all-encompassing theme.

Fahad Hussayn created a magic bazar in a heritage site in Lahore, Hussain Rehar staged a wedding in an open air courtyard, Elan showcased heavy duty bridals against a quitessential backdrop of chandeliers and florals and Huma Adnan planned out a show by the sea.

Short, impactful, highlighting a single collection rather than many, sandwiched together on a single catwalk, solo shows have ended up making a comeback in 2020.

And while fashion weeks are raring to go, come 2021 – once the virus goes away - we do hope that solo shows don’t end up disappearing altogether.

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