The September Reset

New Delhi, Aug 30 (IANSlife)
This weekend 11 years ago, ‘The September Issue’, a film featuring Vogue’s Anna Wintour as the protagonist was released in cinemas worldwide. It was all about the making of the American edition of Vogue’s September Issue.
For fashion, September is the start of the year, when the fall collections hit the stores, when the fashion week circuit kicks off in New York and ends in Paris. It’s about looking out for new trends for the year, gearing up for the holiday season and thinking of fashion afresh.
This year everything is altered and the whole system has gone into a reboot.
New York Fashion Week will open on the 13th September to limited audiences in a very different avatar. It will primarily be a digital event. Regulars such as Tory Birch, Michael Kors and Prabal Gurung have decided not to be part of it. In India, the Lakme Fashion Week slated for October will in all probability also be a digital event. The Fashion Design Council of India too has announced Couture Week will be a virtual event. There is no question that Covid-19 has put things ‘out of whack’.
Tina Tahiliani Parikh, executive director, Ensemble-considered as India’s first store of Indian fashion says, “Very few Spring/Summer collections could come in March and April, so many are just arriving now. The lockdown meant things went on pause.” So Fall collections 2021 are just extensions of Spring/Summer.
There is no question the industry is hurting, and there has to be a readjustment in the system. Covid-19 has been a game changer for fashion in so many ways, but no-one really knows how the industry will adapt. “The mood changes every week, right now you have to be nimble,” says Tahiliani Parikh.
Indeed, it is going to be a very different September for those in fashion. With a move towards seasonless clothes happening in these uncertain times one can’t expect those big trends. If you look at the buys of most leading fashion stores today, they are talking about Transeasonal styles and elevated essentials.
Nonita Kalra till recently the Editor in Chief of Harper’s Bazaar India observes, “Virtual and physical have to come together. Stores will adapt to this format of engagement to draw a shopper back into the universe of the brand.” But she thinks extravaganzas will come back, “Yes, eventually there will be shows. Grand shows, shows that come together for the week, and fashion weeks in fashion capitals because these things have worked for the industry. And this coming together brought great joy. So it will not disappear forever, it will adapt, change, and come back, new and improved.”
As for the September Issue concept, with some Indian glossies forced into a pause or closed down already, everyone is looking to see how magazines will manage to produce those fat editions we expect this month.
Traditionally the September Issue is about a new Fall/Winter collection backed with new brand campaigns. Says Kalra, “Fashion magazines have used the pandemic to evolve, very intelligently. They have pivoted to include politics in fashion — something that always went hand in hand — but in recent times had been overlooked due to the conspicuous consumption that was the hallmark of the last decade. Look at Vogue Italia and its stunning, topical covers. The Indian edition did the Covid Warriors series, where the real heroes of the pandemic were featured with great sensitivity. The September issue now will be more of that”.
British Vogue unveiled its September issue a few weeks ago with a coverline that reads, “Activism Now”. The pull-out cover features 20 activists who address issues ranging from racial equality, the environment and disability discrimination.
Fashion is using its voice. But then fashion is about more than just clothes – it chronicles the times we live in. And there is no question that the Covid-19 has forced the world to push that reset button and introspect. The process is still ongoing and we are still unsure what the new world order will be; so why should fashion be any different?

(The writer Sujata Assomull is an IANSlife columnist. Assomull is the author “100 Iconic Bollywood Costumes” and was the Founding Editor In Chief of Harper’s Bazaar, India)

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