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LONDON, United Kingdom — As 2019 draws to a close, political tensions are running deep across the UK.
Boris Johnson’s landslide victory in mid-December’s general election has raised critical questions about what Brexit could mean for the future of fashion, particularly for the country’s emerging designers.
And with political uncertainty stretching across the globe — from the Yellow Vest protests in France to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and a US-China trade war, it’s no surprise that many of the year’s biggest fashion stories occurred off-runway.
2019 underscored a shift in fashion’s outlook on sustainability, with activist groups like Extinction Rebellion setting their sights on fashion. Major players, from luxury giants LVMH and Kering to high-street retailers H&M group and Zara-owner Inditex, have been increasingly vocal about their efforts to operate in a more environmentally responsible manner, though most have yet to tackle fashion's central challenge: balancing the pressure to grow against the need for sustainability.
“This climate crisis is encroaching into our daily existence, so I wonder if that is what it takes to get consumers to finally pay attention and make links between our behaviour and connect it back to some of these larger issues,” questioned Imran Amed.
It was the death of Karl Lagerfeld in February that hit a particularly poignant note for the fashion community.
It was the death of Karl Lagerfeld in February that hit a particularly poignant note for the fashion community. The industry mourned the death of one of its most beloved and prolific designers, admired for his vision and his unparalleled work ethic — simultaneously creating collections for Chanel, Fendi and his namesake label.
“[Lagerfeld’s death] was a massive intimation of mortality,” according to BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks. “The man was a constant in the industry for so many years... There will never be another career like that.”
Where will fashion’s aspirations lie in the decade ahead?
“Anger is an energy... and I guess we're going to see a lot more of that,” Blanks said. “Human desire is a powerful and transformative force and people want to do good... and I'm really looking forward to seeing how fashion meets that challenge."
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