Spring cleaning and the minimalist movement in the wake of a pandemic.
by AKO • Apr 24, 2020 | SUSTAINABILITY

While the New Year’s season is when many consider implementing improved practices for the remainder of the year, it isn’t the only temple dedicated to reevaluating past lifestyle practices and habits. The idea of spring cleaning has become an age-old trend meant to inspire the concept of a physical cleansing of our environment. In relatively modern times, the term, hijacked has been esoteric to fashion and closet purging. Spring calls for a rebirth, a renewal, and a restoration, that is especially important, as it marks the emergence out of holiday season into a new year. Thus, the idea of spring cleaning is an annual undertaking that many choose to implement into their yearly routines. Historically, spring cleaning was attributed to a religious and cultural start traced back to the Jewish custom of preparing for the liberation that Passover brings in the spring and others saying it holds close ties to the Persian New Year, celebrated on the first day of spring. Regardless of this attributed tradition, many have adopted the seasonal belief of this ample time to dig through and declutter, and as specially related to our fashion and lifestyle essential, to spring clean closets. Nobody is exempted from the benefits of a thorough wardrobe cleanse, as many of us are often clinging to -yearly- old, unworn, unwanted, and/or regretfully acquired pieces.

However, the idea of spring cleaning closets might go so far to reveal an even deeper resolution or purpose as the current state of affairs has wildly impacted the daily lifestyles of just about every person. The fashion industry has been devastated by the sudden turn of events the global pandemic has brought on; people have had no choice but to prioritize financially and economically beneficial lifestyle practices as the COVID epidemic continues to take away ordinary luxuries we had been previously used to. When the fashion and lifestyle industry is concerned, the notion of minimalism as it relates to the production, appreciation, and collectivization of fashion as the freedom of ‘more is better’ is no longer a plausible lifestyle. However, while the turn to minimalism was initially under-appreciated and now relevant to several lifestyle epiphanies, it might prove to be an appreciated contribution to fashion consumerism post the COVID-19—pandemic/lockdown.

Be more with less.

The minimalist fashion movement is where it gets tricky. First, a necessary step to breaking it down is looking into defining it as it relates to different tranches, demographics, and consuming habits. Rather than being regarded as a fashion trend or style, the idea of minimalism in fashion could/should/would now be defined more so by the core foundation and purpose of its practice as a way of being physically minimal yet emotionally conscious. In other words, the minimalism fashion movement should/could/would be centered around the idea of being more thoughtful and, in return, have less tangible ‘materials’ or ‘stuff’ and appreciating the conscious effort to maintaining these bare necessities. The minimalist fashion movement prioritizes the idea of simplicity as opposed to being concerned with the excessive nature of fashion, both in practice or production and visual aesthetic. What that means for you can vary to some degree. Still, it typically focuses on either a wardrobe surrounded by simple silhouettes, patterns, cuts, etc. or simple in number and what it contains – or perhaps a combination of both. For the context of spring cleaning, focusing more on the idea of the latter and how the fashion movement is emphasizing this concept of reductionism is as effective as promoting these co-dependent ideas. More specifically, the “less is more” token trademark of the minimalist fashion trend could/should/would be manifested into specific trends more fittingly into labels like the ‘capsule wardrobe.’ This would/could/should mean that a consumer’s closet choice wardrobe style is limited to a set number of items, and the consumer is unable to purchase or add any other pieces of clothing unless they intend to replace something already existing in the closet to maintain that number. Typically, capsule wardrobes range from anywhere between 20 to 40, or perhaps even 50 pieces of clothing (not including undergarments). Likewise, to the movement, the idea of a capsule wardrobe is so that a consumer is more concerned about the simplicity in numbers of clothing items they should own. Not only is it challenging to keep a set number of pieces at all times and resist the impulse of buying and/or excessive shopping, but a capsule wardrobe takes in-depth creativity to pull off when it comes to creating as many stylish combinations as possible. While a capsule wardrobe is an essential branch of the minimalist fashion movement, the concept of being minimal in fashion is not only much more uncomplicated than it may seem but will/should/could prove to be a financially and thoughtfully more respectable way to approach fashion consumption.

As influential as it is, the fashion industry holds a quiescent but potent footprint on the global landscape; this historical and global influence marks it as one of the most critical sectors in any functional, economic ecosystem. However, what would it mean for the industry to run through the wringer of a historical moment? A question the industry must now face as a global health crisis wreaks havoc on all aspects of the world. Many are pushing forth the need for necessary changes and actionable processes the fashion industry must make if it were to survive this current crisis: from reconsidering the accessibility to fashion to the introduction of new fashion, as well as addressing the issues of materialism that make up a majority of consumer power. With such a physical and tangible blueprint, it would be near impossible to strip such aspects away without transforming the very foundation fashion relies upon. However, this idea – and perhaps potential solution – of minimalism and questioning how much we consume is very well a significant problem the industry must tackle sooner than later. 

A majority of the minimalist movement’s appeal is the way it functions as a counteract to the fast fashion and excessive trend cycles, events, collections, and other aspects of the fashion industry. This is seen through the movement’s practicality in the way it coincides with sustainable fashion and the slowly rising adoption of slow fashion. The minimalist approach in fashion is grounded in the idea that fashion choices, consumptions, and purchases to be carefully thought of as the point is to avoid excessiveness. Fashion (consumption) could/should/would be specific, intentional, and could/should/would be an overall investment. Less can most definitely be more when the pieces in your wardrobe are not only consciously purchased, but that they are genuinely embracing of an aesthetic rather than ‘in style.’ As a prospective question: could/should/would the minimalist fashion be a temporarily mending practice suited for the state of affairs post a pandemic? Or does it have a real potential in acting as a basis for how the fashion industry should/could/would function going forward?

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