Fashion industry in the age of COVID-19

Emerging designer supporter Isabella Davey and fashion designer Chloe Baines shared on fashion design careers podcast how the lockdown and these strange times have affected their way of working and what they expect to be the future of the fashion industry. 


New landscape, new opportunities to change

When asked how she is finding lockdown, Isabella Davey claimed that although this is a time of complete strangeness, this new landscape comes with incredible opportunities. "I think that whenever something like this happens how we react is incredible. After the 2009 recession, we have had a great amount of business that has popped up from there because they become disruptive. They saw an opportunity and they wanted to change things.", she said. 

And what changes does she believe in? - "I believe it is a time that brands will realize that they need to focus on purpose, intension, and authenticity. I think that is something that we are missing for a long time and that we have come to realize that if you have got nothing to say, don’t say anything at all maybe. We have all been pitted against an invisible enemy, which has given us time to look at ourselves and look at the industry, look at our way of life, look at our passions and our jobs.", Isabella said. "I am hoping the young brands will survive, I think they have the agility and that is going to be more difficult for bigger brands. Young businesses and new businesses are going to rethink how they are trading, interacting, and creating. While big businesses are in traditional mannerisms and will find It more difficult. I believe it will be a regenerative time. There will be jobs lost, money lost, there will be tough times ahead. But also, it will bring new ideas and new ways of communicating and creating. So, I am staying positive about it."


Working from home

The copywriter has been working from home, finding new ways of people interacting and also has been working on articles about "whether this will mean the end of wholesale or wholesale as we know it and how coronavirus has affected emerging designers. I am also working on a new commission about how tech will enter the conversation. I do think it is an exciting time!", she explained. 

Although Isabella Davey believes in new ways of thinking that are coming from this pandemic, she also realises how tough these times have been, especially for the fashion industry and how important communities are. "People say it is like putting out fires every day – businesses are closing, people are not shopping, people are anxious, stressed, and sad. And it is a really isolating time and it is hard to work in the fashion industry, which is why I am trying to focus on being in the creative industry rather than in the fashion industry. Hopefully, it will remind us how important collaboration is - it is about putting ourselves together, rather than setting ourselves apart. We need communities more than ever. And the creative community is extremely regenerative as well as resourceful." 

Isabella Davey  photographed by Eva K. Salvi


How COVID-19 affects your work 

And what about Chloe Baines? How has she found Coronavirus in the midst of trying to produce her first retail collection? - "I think that I am quite lucky in the sense that what I do blends itself quite well with the situation that we are in. Everything that I produce is produced locally by people who work individually, who are freelancers. So, within my company, it is pretty much just me and then people who work for themselves that I work with. In that sense of creative community, I was already working like that. That is why I am quite lucky.", Chloe explained. 

When asked how the COVID-19 has affected her and her work, the fashion designer explained that being at home has affected her practice and the way her work will be received. "I very much feel like I am having everything happen from home which has affected my practice during all of this because I’m not used to doing that. But I am becoming more and more used to it. And the more used to it I become, the more I can do it in the future. I am quite pleased that everyone is having time to rethink know they can produce fashion. I have always been passionate about it and it’s the core of my brand to work locally, giving the opportunity to people who I know that are creatives.", she explained. 


"Designers are problem solvers" 

CHLOE BAINES' fashion designer believes that designers are problem solvers and that brands are starting to rethink the way they design - "I think that, as a designer, it should be at the core of your skill to design around what has been happening during this time. Designers are essentially problem solvers; we find ourselves in a situation where it might be problematic, or people are reacting to what’s been going on, and still, some of the best collections from designers that we all admire have come from problematic or troubled times but that people could relate to and invest in." 

Although Chloe was upset about a lot of projects that she was working on that haven’t necessarily surface, she also found new opportunities in the digital world - "There is a lot of opportunities to create change and engage more people, especially with the whole digital thing. It is not something that I would of consider for my brand to invest too much time or space into. But over the last couple of weeks, I have been doing quite a few live interviews with designers and people I work with. And I have found it a really valuable thing to solidify my audience - I have been able to engage with people who are interested in what I’m doing."

In Tents: The After Party: a collection made entirely from up-cycled tents by Chloe Baines


Isabella Rose Celeste Davey works in Designer Relations at the British Fashion Council, where her role specialises in emerging designer support. Alongside this, she writes for a selection of publications and in her spare time plays in a 'wildly unsuccessful' band.

CHLOE BAINES is an eponymous fashion brand established in London and created by Coventry born fashion designer, Chloe Baines. Her work uses found materials and drives an ethos surrounding the sustainable and ethical practice. Interested in the art of craft and community, Chloe Baines works with several collaborators and each garment is produced in the UK.


And what about you? What has been your biggest challenge as a designer during the pandemic? 

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Written by: Ines Tome

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