I would like to first and foremost thank every single MASH team member and contributor for their hard work, flexibility, and unwavering belief in our mission as a publication. Coming off of the success of our premier edition, the MASH team truly rose to the occasion to curate and produce (remotely, of course) a 2nd edition that is both pertinent to the times and remains consistent with our greater purpose as a business-focused journal. I couldn’t be more proud of this edition and the people behind it.
As a student who was sent home to quarantine with family, I share a similar uneasy sentiment with other college students around the country. On one hand, I feel the responsibility to keep my community safe and understand the restrictions and guidelines in place to ensure the safety and health of others. However, to put it simply, this…is a challenge. I feel as if precious time and memories were stolen from us. An unfinished semester and derailed summer plans cannot compare to the tragedies coronavirus inflicted on all facets of our world, but it’s important that those feelings, and our collective unfinished business, are still acknowledged and validated. I stand in solidarity with all students across the country and remain optimistic that we will safely return to school in the fall and resume a new “normal”.
In the creation of this edition, I spent a lot of time analyzing the industry, trying to understand the devastating financial implications of state-wide shut-downs and how the retail sector can rebuild. The numbers are harrowing and as more retailers shut their doors, it may seem as if the coronavirus signed the fashion industry’s death sentence. Relatives have urged me to seek alternative career ambitions, reminding me that “retail is over” and to consider more practical options. But, despite the scary percentages, the chapter 11’s, and the unfilled orders, I see an incredible opportunity for boundary-pushing adaptation, technological innovation, and greater sustainable efforts in the industry that can transform the future of fashion–a future with me in it.
If anything, COVID-19 has provided the industry a pause to reflect on previous practices and adapt to modern consumerism. I am in awe of the transformations that have already been implemented, such as digital runways, remote photoshoots, and cross-company Zoom connections. I look forward to tuning into Business of Fashion’s Instagram live videos every day to hear from industry leaders who are working tirelessly to foster “togetherness”. Even though the fashion industry remains fragmented, I am inspired by the talented people who have worked to make the best of the quarantine and have been able to lift the spirits of an entire community. In particular, in the wake of the cancelled 2020 Met Gala, style enthusiasts crafted beautiful looks in their own homes under the #MetGalaChallenge, reminding the entire fashion world that, at its core, remains its creative and inventive nature that will fuel its revival.
If it is not yet obvious, the industry is in crisis mode. However, I look forward to a day when the retail sector has made use of the resourcefulness resulting from COVID-19. This is an industry that has proven to be relentless in nature and timeless despite significant obstacles.
By reading the 2nd edition of MASH and this letter, I assume you are interested in a future in fashion (or you are my endlessly supportive grandmother). Right now is not the time to shy away from the industry. Now, more than ever, we must ideate, collaborate, and look to each other for guidance as the emerging leaders in the industry.
To leave you all, I want to add that it’s okay to be upset about our current situation and anxious about our futures. I wish this edition came about as a product of spit-balling article ideas in the Winter Garden with the MASH team. I miss saying hello to peers in the Diag, studying with friends in the Law Library, and I even miss my accounting lecture. But for now, I have found myself feeling grateful just to see everyone’s faces in the small boxes on my computer screen. I sign off wishing everyone health, safety, and a little bit more sanity.