Letter to the future | Steve Salter

Inspirational words from a fashion journalist

To keep spirits high and creativity strong, Polimoda has asked its community of fashion industry experts to write about the future.

Considering the current worldwide emergency, what is your view on what to expect in the immediate, and not so immediate, FUTURE?
Over the last decade, conversations around inclusivity, sustainability, ethics and equality have all grown louder. From diverse catwalks to conscious design, positive change has undoubtedly occurred, but it has always been limited to what the machine allows. Today, we have a previously unimaginable opportunity as the machine has stopped. How many times have you read the words “unprecedented times” in emails, news reports and op-eds in response to COVID-19? Well, these unprecedented times bring unprecedented opportunity for unprecedented change. As issues throughout the industry — from education through to production, supply chains and consumption — have been exacerbated by the pandemic, the fragility and failings of the system have all been laid bare.

Moments like these can be used as a breeding ground for innovation and positive shifts. We are already seeing digital transformation across design, manufacturing and beyond being accelerated. If you haven’t already, you will soon start using Clo3D, Rhino and other 3D digital tools in your practice. From June, fashion weeks as we know them will — for the short-term at least — be no more, as shows shift from IRL to URL. As someone who has attended shows for more than a decade, it’s exciting to ponder just how augmented and virtual reality could be used, as designers reimagine not just what a show could be but what’s actually shown and how it can be consumed too. Move aside See-Now, Buy-Now, the dawn of See-Now, Download-Now may be closer than we think. 

While consumer sentiment continues to be influenced by the climate crisis and increased awareness of sustainability issues, the immediate future of fast-fashion appears to be safe (retailers like Boohoo, Missguided and Pretty Little Things show no signs of slowing down). But why can’t the “buy it, wear it, return it” fodder for social media clout of today soon be replaced by virtual pieces that achieve the same result in-feed while drastically downsizing its problematic footprint? 

Now, with the industry on pause, we can’t allow the industry to merely apply a filter to a system not worth salvaging. Now is the time for revolution, not evolution. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine business models and cultivate a more sustainable, progressive industry. You, the next generation who will actually shape the future, should amplify your daydreams and push the possibilities of your creativity. Think about how technology and other means can help increase efficiency and decrease waste. Question everything that was and build the fashion ecosystem you want to inhabit.

Steve Salter

Writer, editor, content specialist and strategist

Steve Salter is a fashion journalist and creative marketing professional with more than a decade of experience across traditional and new media. In his seven and half years at i-D, he has played a pivotal role in helping transform it from an independent style magazine into an award-winning global media brand. While contributing to, and consulting for, a plethora of retail and luxury brands, he recently launched Running With, an intimate series of conversations conducted on the move and published across digital touchpoints.