Could it be that... Society

Are we now dressing for health and not fashion?

This summer, most of us have stepped out of the house only to go grocery shopping, for a walk, or on a work-related assignment.

Our summer wardrobes lie in the cupboard, almost untouched. Like most people I know, I default to tees and loose pyjama-style lowers or thin tights that can transition me from working to working out. These help me take micro fitness breaks, where I do four surya namaskars or a wall sit.

There’s been talk of the revival of the kaftan and of more bras without the underwire being bought, reflecting a veering towards comfort and practicality. I notice more women in comfortable shorts stepping out sans make-up. And this is Delhi, where make-up is not the only cover-up we see. Artifice is the other, and our clothes and accessories are often representative of that.

With yoga being pushed as an immunity booster and the act of exposing ourselves to the sun for vitamin D being considered a necessity, our wardrobes too have begun to revolve around health. The fact that at home, we don’t have the air-conditioning on all the time, means we are able to dress more appropriately for the weather and be slightly more in contact with the way Nature functions.

Confronted with the problem of weavers going into distress with little business, citizen initiatives have sprung up. WhatsApp messages have begun circulating around buying what they produce — cotton, silk, or linen saris — all natural fabrics that allow the skin to breathe, with nature-based dyes that are skin-friendly.

Will all of this change the way we shop in the future? Probably. We are now seriously considering how much we already have, why we need more, and where to invest money when it comes to clothes — yes invest, not buy mindlessly, irrespective of how a shoe pinches or a seam cuts into the side or a bra is a needlessly constrictive.

We will now probably see whole ranges of wellness wear go mainstream, some as a part of existing mega brands, and some from boutique companies. With workouts getting more gentle on the body — with gyms closed there’s less HIIT and more yoga classes are online — we’re likely to see a shift towards thinner, natural, stretchable fabric that forms just a layer on the body, not aimed at compression.

In a post-Coronavirus world, functional fabrics and biotextiles that are non-toxic with antimicrobial and hypoallergenic properties, will come to the fore. Chitosan, a by-product from the exoskeletons of crustaceans (which means it is easily derived from the fishing industry) is already being used. Perhaps neem, turmeric, aloe vera, and several others will find funding and use. Shoes too will see more cork, leather, and fabric, and will be focussed on comfort rather than fashion.

It isn’t without irony then that the soles of a particularly uncomfortable pair of heels that I own came undone, and I threw them away, or that a piece of shapewear I’d hung out on the line to dry simply flew away.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 1:08:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/dressing-for-health-not-fashion-in-covid-19-world/article31951520.ece

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