To say that this has been a unique year with a lot of unexpected challenges would be a significant understatement. Most of us have been forced to adapt to a new way of working and living, no matter where we are or what we do. For fashion designers, who spend much of their time in ateliers working with their teams, the lockdown meant shuttering their businesses for the time being, while the restrictions of public gatherings have seriously altered how brands have been able to present their new collections. All of this change and uncertainty could easily leave one feeling unsettled, but for London Fashion Week designer Erdem Moralioglu, staying positive during the pandemic has been about refusing to give up.
“We had to find ways to carry on working as normal but just adjusting,” he tells me. “Whether that be sketching at home, doing fittings via Zoom or filming a show without an audience. We had to carry on. I think that was important – not to just give up. We just had to find different ways of doing what we do.”
And, although challenging, finding new ways of working can sometimes lead to a positive outcome, as can having the time to stop to think and consider how certain elements of the industry work.
The fashion world has long been under pressure to adapt to more modern approach as sustainability has become a more and more pressing an issue to tackle. The pausing of creating collections and the halting of fashion shows certainly gave designers and other key industry figures time to reflect on whether there are better ways of doing things.
In May, Moralioglu was one of a number of influential designers to sign an open letter asking for the industry to shift the structure of the fashion seasons.
"Put the autumn/winter season back in winter (August/January) and spring/summer season back in summer (February/July),” the letter, which was signed by key designers, CEOs and buyers, said. “Create a more balanced flow of deliveries through the season to provide newness but also time for products to create desire. Finally, discount at the end of the season in order to allow for more full-price selling – January for autumn/winter and July for spring/summer."
Although there has been no firm decision on these proposed changes, the conversation is ongoing and needs to be kept up, Moralioglu tells us: “We need to be more thoughtful and considered about our decisions. Everything we do impacts tomorrow and I think we are more acutely aware of that than ever after this year.”
The designer feels that the same can be said for the added pressure on the industry this year for a greater presence of diversity which, although it has forever been a huge issue, has had a renewed spotlight on it following the killing of George Floyd earlier this summer and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests that followed.
“I think the most important thing is that the dialogue and the work doesn’t stop – change in the industry and for everyone must continue to happen,” he says, stressing that we all need to work together to challenge the issue.
Moralioglu also opens up about something which gave him comfort during lockdown and these unsettling times. And, like most of us, it was finding calm and pleasure in those things that we so often used to take for granted, he explains.
“I think nature was one of the greatest respites of lockdown. I was so grateful for our little London garden and the square we live on. Something that gave me great hope in lockdown was when David Hockney summarised the situation so well with his quote ‘They can’t cancel spring’.”
As a designer perhaps best known for his mesmerising floral prints, Moralioglu has long been inspired by nature when it comes to his work. And, for his latest project, an exclusive capsule collection with The Outnet, he leaned on some of his favourite fabrics from past collections.
“I focused on silhouettes from the past and experimented with fabrics they were never made in,” the designer explains of the 25-piece collection. “I wanted to create an entire wardrobe so the collection really covers different needs from eveningwear to day dresses, separates and even pyjama trousers.”
Dipping into his past designs for the project was a joy, he says: “I loved it. I archive all my past collections and it gives me such an important tool to look backwards on as much as it is to look forwards.”
When he does look forward though, it is all about being positive. On what he is most excited about right now, Moralioglu says: “Life after the pandemic; we must not forget that this will pass and there will be a happier time ahead.”
Erdem's exclusive capsule collection with The Outnet is available to shop now. Prices range from £350 to £950. Shop the collection in full here.
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