The Evolution Of Quarantine Fashion


Antoine Chanfreau, Reporter

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s not at all a stretch to say that, at first glance, the reasons we wear clothes and pay attention to them lie entirely outside of our houses. 

When you throw on your anorak, it’s because there’s wind or rain outside or for self-expression—to show others that’s who you are. When you put on big black boots, it’s because you want to express yourself to the outside world—to other people. I know there’s a bunch of stuff I wear that isn’t super conventional or practical, but I wear it anyway.  Even the stuff I’ve bought for practical reasons (running shoes, raincoats, etc) end up becoming part of my regular wardrobe. 

So why are people still paying attention to fashion? Your Zoom window usually isn’t picking up much of what you’re wearing. You could crop a shirt right below your chest and wear nothing else, and the others in your meetings would never be the wiser. 

In-person meetings aren’t very frequent either, so most people have little reason to buy new clothes. However, I still find myself browsing eBay and JawnFlip looking for new pieces.

So why are people still doing this? Why are so many people picking up quarantine hobbies related to fashion? Why did I learn to sew and start making a pair of shoes? There’s a clear answer. Just like every other art, some of us can’t live without our fashion. Even if others don’t see it—even if it’s not necessary within the shelter of our walls—we put on the clothes we like for ourselves. 

Even in quarantine and with all the changes it brings, fashion stays important to us. 

One of the biggest changes to fashion over quarantine is the necessity of masks. You can say a lot with your mask (especially with your decision of whether or not to wear them) and they can also change up your outfit. 

Masks have been popular among certain crowds for years now, especially with regards to the techwear trends of the 2010s, but their resurgence during quarantine seems to be separate from how they were worn in the past. 

In contrast with the dark, sleek grey and black masks of the techwear scene, the masks seen today on the street tend to either be bright, surgical blue or have colorful patterns and visible branding. It’s possible that these masks are being chosen by people as a pocket of cheer and brightness in this grim year, or it could be a reflection of the louder graphic design trends pervasive in today’s fashion. 

The logos and colors on our clothes are becoming louder and louder by the day, and I can safely say that something as prominent as our masks are going to follow suit. 

Another big change to fashion is the prominence of live stream-only fashion shows(. In a usual setting, runway shows for the big couture houses are star-studded events, with celebrities and other public figures in the front-row seats. These seats are packed very close to each other though, and as such, aren’t a possibility if social distancing rules are to be followed. 

As a result, fashion brands have started to live stream their shows (although many brands have done this before the pandemic), making them more accessible and, arguably, more about the fashion. For the same reason that Martin Margiela covered his model’s faces, removing the celebs from the runway removes a distraction and puts the focus purely on the clothes. 

Another advantage to these shows is the expanded options for setting. When guests need to be seated for a show, designers have to pick venues that accommodate this, limiting their options to warehouses and other large, flat areas. 

When you don’t need to do this, you can have your runway on the ocean. For his FW21 Womenswear collection, avant-garde master Rick Owens set his models walking down a small pier on a French beach, creating a unique setting that wouldn’t be possible at another time. 

The world and all things within it will be permanently marked by this pandemic, and after one year, it’s clear fashion will be as well. Whether or not the changes made in the moment will be permanent is unclear, but trends have been set and some things will be changing. 

More brands will start to do shows over Livestream and masks may find themselves in our daily wardrobes even after they aren’t urgently needed. One thing I know for sure is that, like many other people on the planet, I’m going to keep caring about the way I dress during quarantine and long after.