Have you got to that moment in the pandemic cycle yet where you are daydreaming of what you’ll wear when you finally step out for that Sunday brunch or go on that first holiday after ages? Or when you will finally stop ‘distancing’ socially and be back with the people you love? Do you sometimes sit and fantasize, what it will feel like to actually pull out the dresses that have piled up at the back of your closet, and not find yourself taking out those same stretch pants, day after day?
Although it may still seem like a foggy, distant dream shrouded in pain, anxiety and frustration, one thing we can tell you is that history has taught us that THIS dream will come true! History will repeat and we will rise…and we will dress again! And that is because times of great trauma have always ushered in trends, as statements on the emerging ‘new world’ and fashion is what gives these moments visual shape. Confused? Let us elaborate.
Crisis - Fashion:
In the 1800s tuberculosis was quite literally the ‘IT’ disease in Europe and America. It had not only attained the status of an epidemic, but ‘Consumption’ (as it was called) had also become a sort of status symbol and was romanticised. ‘Consumptive Chic’ became the new in vogue aesthetic - the thinness and pale skin resulting from the disease, gave way to many feminine beauty standards. At its height, the consumptive chic trend led to fashionable pointed corsets with voluminous skirts to show off those waifish waists. Women used makeup to lighten their skin, redden their lips and coloured their cheeks pink to get that complete consumption look. Strange, but true!
Img. 1: Jeanne Samary, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1978 | Img. 2: Artist Unknown (French), Fashion Plate. Source: Watson Library at Metropolitan Museum of Art | Img. 3: Unknown Man. 1800s
Then, in the 1900s when tuberculosis was better understood as being contagious rather than genetic, as it was previously thought to be, it brought about another radical change in fashion trends. The long, voluminous skirts were now looked at as the culprits of the disease, sweeping up germs into homes! Corsets were attacked because they were believed to alleviate tuberculosis by restricting air circulation in the lungs. So out went the long skirts and corsets and in came shorter hemlines and with that, a brand-new focus on women’s shoes!
Img. 1: Woman in 1915 | Img. 2: Street Fashion, 1900s. | Img. 3: Men in Early 1900s
It wasn’t just the women though, men’s fashion went through a radical change too. Luxuriant beards, sculpted mustaches and extravagant sideburns that were all the rage in the Victorian times, were considered dangerous. And so out went the beards and in came the clean-shaven look!
And guess what - because sunbathing was prescribed as a treatment for TB, it gave rise to the ‘tan’ trend that still hasn’t lost momentum.
Next. came the First World War that changed many things in the world, including changes in the fabric of society itself. The war gave women more independence and importance in society. So, as the war ended, and the world entered one of its most decadent times, hemlines began to rise even further. The hemlines of the roaring (19)20’s became a testament to freedom and social progression.
Img. 1: Woman at Wimbledon in 1920s | Img.2 Skirts in 1920s | Img. 3. Famous Flapper Dress of 1920s | Img.4 Women in th '20s.
The Great Depression brought about a slight change to the hemlines once again as they got longer as a testament to the more conservative and modest living in that era. Hemlines have become a sort of unofficial index of wealth, prosperity and well-being of the times.
So what are some trends that are emerging now from the Covid-19 pandemic?
It’s all about the ‘Smize’ - now that our faces are all covered with masks, it’s become all about the ‘smize’ - your smiling eyes! Eyelash sales have sky rocketed and lipstick sales have plummeted.
Taming of the ‘Shoe’ - Surprise, surprise! Sales of dress shoes and heels are down and flip-flop and crocs are king.
Going Up - Here’s a contradiction to history. Historically, hemlines, have been inversely proportionate to social and economic stability. However, in the current pandemic, where everyone is stuck at home, hemlines are on the rise!
Back to Basics - No surprises here, basic t-shirts, khakis, joggers, sweats are back in vogue.
Coming back to our question - what will we look like when we finally walk out, having defeated the disease and the isolation and struggle. Are we going to come out rocking the ‘messy chic’ look? Our money is on No! If you ask us, we’ll want to dance! We’ll want sunshine and flowers and bright, bold colours - that say we Won and that we are ready for Life!
Let’s Get Set to Make Our Dreams Come True!
Call us optimistic or even foolish, but we want to start preparing for that time. And so, even though giving up ‘comfort wear’ may be a tough for us (for you and for me and the entire human race - as MJ said), we are already reclaiming our right to dress up, for you and for me - for us!
How? By bringing to you, our new ‘while we are dreaming’ line.
First in are our ‘StayIn shirts’ which are a hybrid of formal wear and lounge wear, perfect for dreaming of a better tomorrow while surviving today.
These are crisp white tunic-shirts that go down to your knees and make you look sharp from shoulder up (the only angle that matters these days) on the un-ending video calls that have become our new normal, without giving up on your comfort. The back of the shirt is where all the fun is with our specially created prints to add the colour and joy back into our days.
The StayIn shirts come in two fun prints that have a positive message hidden in them to help us survive this year.
The #FailYear print is a play on the evil eye, known to ward off evil. It’s no secret that this year has been a major fail! This is our way to help keep evil at bay and bring in some luck!
The second print is #SweetDreams, a reminder that no matter how hard things get or how bitter they taste, never give up on dreaming and on your dreams. Because dreams taste sweet!
The StayIn shirts are a collaboration between Hathi and The Underworld Co. The Underworld Co. came into this world as a ‘creative’ reaction to the polka dot-flower-aztec print patterns that dominate the women’s underwear world. They specialise in consciously designed collections of statement panties and functional loungewear for women using ecofriendly fabrics and printing techniques.
Both Hathi and The Underworld Co. share the same design ethos - creating wearable art. We are both print-focused brands creating products for you to play with and become expressions of your individual style.
If you have been (like we have) looking for ways to get out of the bottomless pit of sweat pants and T’s, get yourself our StayIn shirts and dress well for dreaming.
While it may feel that thinking about what we wear or will wear as indulgent in these troubled times, we look at it as having faith in the future and in the power of beauty to give us hope and strength. Here’s hoping we come out to the other side looking all dapper and dandy rather than couch potatoes. Let’s start practicing with the StayIn shirts.
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"1868". Fashion History Timeline. August 6, 2019. https://fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu/1868-2/
How Tuberculosis Shaped Victorian Fashion. Smithsonian Magazine. May 10, 2016. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-tuberculosis-shaped-victorian-fashion-180959029/
5 ways the pandemic is changing fashion and beauty trends. The Washington Post. June 15, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/15/fashion-beauty-trends-coronavirus/
This Is Not The End Of Fashion. NY Times. June 4, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/04/style/fashion-industry-dead-or-alive.html