We talked to Damur’s creative Director Damur (Shih-Shun) Huang about the future of the fashion after the coronavirus pandemic.
According to you, where does fashion stand at present?
To be very frank, I see there is no place for fashion standing upright during lockdown nor coronavirus pandemic. I don’t want to say the pretty words that we as a Fashion community can bring a positive and a good impact during this time. I find this a very irresponsible way to express false promises. What factories or the houses could do now is helping to provide medical products such as surgical masks, N95 or PE3 protective clothes for hospitals and social workers. We are facing the virus, which is not bacterial, so we should have a bit more idea in producing the right article in order to be helpful. I see so many unethical adverting on social media today about antibacterial materials for coronavirus pandemic, which I feel is wrong.
In terms of strategies when it comes to placing your brand and/or connecting with people and also through public relations, how is it being rethought?
You know in #DAMUR, fashion is a political weapon to start a provocative social topic. But today, we are ready to move from only making statements or simple discussions, to influence and provide solutions and options to the market and people. Our team is working hard and stays together to make sure that we are not just only talking. At this point, we unfortunately can not tell you more, but we intend to bring more advanced textile technologies and medical protective features in our clothing.
How do you think fashion is going to be affected this year and in the coming years?
We strongly doubt whether there will be any meaningful fashion week or trade show in 2020, this is the biggest impact on us made by the coronavirus pandemic. To stand still by doing something meaningful is our plan for 2020. Our plan is not to engage in any traditional fashion business activity but spend more time to reshape the business, design philosophy and future products. We believe most of the companies in fashion Industry now are working on finding new values, message, business models and definitions of what fashion could look like in 2021.
Do you think we need to have a new plan of action in place?
Oh, yes, we need to move on now by cutting out the past, otherwise we are better off changing our job now. The traditional fashion markets and business models are falling apart, how can you not to have a new plan of action?
As a brand, what are the values you hold most dear that are the core of your fashion aesthetic?
For me personally, I believe they are unconventional thinking, visual contrast, naughty but elegant.
How do you think brands are going to change their strategies this year and in the coming year?
I think it’s still too early to tell what will happen in the upcoming months as no one can tell, but for sure what strategies we had in the past, we can not apply them any longer. I fundamentally believe that a garment without temperature is just a piece of fabric and we are on the mission of getting that back. And how to find ourselves back within a new definition – a new lifestyle in between business, creativity, progress of society and dream, which is our mutual topic of the coming years.
Do you foresee any long term or radical changes to the way fashion will be told, created or consumed in this country?
For sure I can foresee the slow ending of fast fashion and a new era of ethical, more human-approach in fashion industry. By ethical, I mean that it is not about bio or organic or sustainable, but in a way getting closer to what a human being is able to reach but not a false idealism. The world needs to have an approachable goal and path in order to feel down to earth.
How do you think the global market and its changes are going to affect fashion brands?
As the research and analysis of McKinsey & Company, the “ best scenario “ of coronavirus pandemic will still need to take 3 ~ 5 years for recovering, so I don’t think we can think like the old global market but to build a new global market. To be more approachable, I will say we are arriving in a new era of global but local market in 2020.
Do you think fashion is going to become more conscious? Is it going to change consumption?
Conscious is a very philosophical word to me, I am not sure if it’s the right vocabulary to describe our current state of mind. I see the thing like this, before you want to dress up, you need to have money to buy the clothes, you need to work in order to get money or any other trade concept. I think conscious is a very advanced level in term of business actively, which I feel like due to the dramatic job cutting and layoff, to be able to survive in a decent way and still with style is the down to earth consumption that I could image.
All in all, where do you see fashion going?
I personally am very interested in the so-called Medical Fashion which I see great potential in. It sits in between creativity, business and the fact that we are getting old since day 1.
How will the role of influencers in the fashion space be affected? Will Influencer marketing remain as hot as it was till last year?
I hope influencers can stay away in 2020 and 2021, because in some points, I find them very irresponsible when they sell their personal dreams to others and by the way no one should have the same dream (saying as from a designer perceptive). As a person who is working in the creative industry, I care more about quality than quantity, which again, this is dependent on what the market’s opinion really is. But nevertheless, I can imagine we as a society would take a step back from the untouchable digital world.
What expectations do you have from various stakeholders to improve the situation? What needs to be done asap to boost the fashion industry?
I am personally very much curious about what the world will look like if there was “ basic income “. I think the basic income concept, it could bring many many more spaces and opportunities in order to solve the issues that we couldn’t solve ourselves now. But of course, with the new concept, there will be a new issue. I always see progress as a positive sign than staying dry and desperate. If you don’t mind, I think what we need to do today is to rethink whether there is a better system than our current one, not only in the fashion industry, what will you say?