For this year’s September issue, Vogue asked 100 people—from creative directors, models, and photographers to activists and CEOs—one simple (but also incredibly complex) question: What is the future of fashion? How would the way fashion is made, and the way that we all interact with it, change in the face of urgent calls for racial equity, an ongoing climate crisis, and the devastating effects of a global pandemic? We divided the answers into five chapters, which we have titled Creating Fashion, Sustainable Fashion, Buying Fashion, Responsible Fashion, and Viewing Fashion. Taken together, they reveal a wide-ranging portrait of our time while also pointing the way forward—to a different fashion calendar, a different protocol for production, and an altogether different relationship with clothes. Here, 12 celebrities, photographers, and leaders from tech weigh in on the future of Viewing Fashion.Big Freedia, Musician
I want fashion that’s colorful, joyful, and risky—from head to toe, from the hair to the makeup to the jewelry. It plays a big part in my everyday life—I’m always trying to push the boundaries in every direction. Especially now, I’m looking forward to supporting more Black-owned businesses and Black designers. Charles Sterling is one—he’s from New Orleans, a young guy, really talented—and I love Pink Lucy’s work. But I also just ran into a girl at the gas station who was a designer; she was like, “Oh my God, I would love to make you some jeans.” I love creating opportunities for other people to get their name and their work out there. I just want to see more Black faces everywhere.Derek Blasberg, Head of Fashion and Beauty Partnerships, YouTube
The past nine months, though, have forced the whole industry to rethink absolutely everything: At the outset of COVID-19, YouTube helped our partners create content that encouraged their community to #stayhome to save lives. When the disparity in social justice emerged, we created a fund dedicated to amplifying Black creators and artists. Later, when it was time to think about Fashion Week, we worked closely with brands to evolve their runway struts into digital footprints. Going digital allows designers to share stories, elevate designs, and entice their audiences. Yves Saint Laurent once said, “What’s wonderful about my art is that dream and reality become one.” Lately, this industry is forcing itself to confront a tough reality of its own. But it’s important we let it dream too.Bibi Borthwick, Photographer
I’m 29 years old, and this is the first time in the life of my generation that we’ve had the space and the time to go inward to look at ourselves and try to figure out why we’re even in the fashion industry. Now, more than ever, I want it to slow down. I love so many things about this industry, but there are also things I don’t relate to and don’t necessarily agree with. Fashion has become so competitive because of how saturated it is, and sometimes that brings out the worst in people. They’re not necessarily saying something that is representative of who they really are inside—but maybe they’ve never had the chance to figure out who they are inside.
I remember my father [photographer Mark Borthwick] telling me stories about he and his friends just sitting at home, and someone would come up with an idea for styling, someone would do the makeup, and then their friend would be the model. That sense of collaboration and unity—that needs to come back.
One thing that I really feel, growing up in this industry and now working in this industry, is that people who are creative put so much love and time into what they do—and because of the speed of this industry, four months of producing a fashion show is over in 12 minutes. And that’s so sad, because the work and the love and the investment that people put into their time is often undervalued. We all need to slow down, and we all need to really take a moment to ask, “Why are we producing so much?” That’s not healthy for our planet.Eva Chen, Director of Fashion Partnerships, Instagram
“How do I gain more followers?” That’s the top question I get. But people are asking the wrong question. It’s never been about follower count—it’s about what you’re doing and how loud you can be. Just look at Malala, Greta, Tarana, DeRay: They will be the new one-name icons of this new generation. I believe in the ability of individual voices to teach and change the world. It has to begin somewhere—it might be with one follower, one post, one hashtag. Instagram was already the hub for fashion, yes, but it’s also become the hub for activism. And when the two intersect, these voices—lifted by a community that’s one-billion strong—will create a call for change that will be impossible to ignore.Alexandre de Betak, Show Producer
I’m a very optimistic and positive person. I’ve been advocating and looking for change for a very long time—not just for sustainability reasons but also for well-being, and for a better appreciation of the creativity that we have spent our lives putting into the shows that we do. I can appreciate that much of the audience was often blasé and tired of the repetitiveness of the situation—and of the quantity of shows—and I really believe that we need a major change, and that the crisis is an opportunity to accelerate that change. We absolutely can revolutionize the fashion calendar; we can challenge the Fashion Weeks. If we start looking at it a bit differently, we will be able to free up parts of the system to make it more interesting, more surprising—and more sustainable, by reducing the worldwide audience to focus on both a more local audience and a larger digital audience.
We’ve all spent a tremendous time on Zoom calls and on screens in general, and I think ironically what this lockdown and this crisis has shown us is that we want to be away from the screen as much as we can and have real values, real life, real nature, and real things more than ever. I’m very hopeful that the all-digital will make everyone appreciate the all-physical. Hopefully by having some new parameters, some new restrictions, and a new freedom of revisiting formats, we can come up with new ways to be more moving, more creative. I’ve never believed that the emotion that comes from what we put together with the designers we work with comes from numbers or size or money.Selby Drummond, Head of Fashion and Beauty, Snapchat
The most dramatic shift I’ve seen emerge from the pandemic is that even brands that felt they were leaning into digital in a healthy way have woken up to the reality that they are nowhere near as invested, sophisticated, or bullish on digital as they need to be to survive in today’s world. The time for wading slowly and cautiously into the digital realm is over. Some companies are realizing that they have invested too heavily into one platform and now understand how urgently they need to diversify—perhaps they are realizing that they have ignored generations who will become their most important customers and brand advocates, or perhaps they have resisted fully integrating their inventory, sales, and client relationships digitally. But there isn't anyone I’ve spoken to who didn’t wish they were more prepared than they found themselves in March of 2020.Nicolas Ghesquière, Designer, Louis Vuitton
I really hope that Paris Fashion Week is not going to be only the big brands—this is the moment to support the smaller brands that make this wonderful world of fashion relevant. It’s not always easy in fashion.
There’s a lot of competition—it’s friendly, but it’s very competitive. And we’ve been pushed to be more and more competitive with the numbers of presentations and actions we were taking. I think this moment is super important for unity; for supporting the [labels] that are having difficulties. The market can’t be a monopoly. I know the Chambre Syndicale is working on a lot of that, but I think everyone should take action—I am working with LVMH on this—to make sure people can support each other as we emerge out of this complicated situation. There was already a great consciousness in the industry of goals we had to resolve, on many subjects: sustainability, obviously; inclusivity, of course. The fact is that sometimes the perception of fashion was very exclusive, sometimes too exclusive. Sometimes fashion wasn’t always aware of who it was talking to. But the situation in the world has created a kind of acceleration— an emergency of what we knew we had to change and evolve.Nadine Ijewere, Photographer
There are times when I know that the reason I get asked to do something is because I am Black and because the cast is Black—that’s why I’ve been asked to do it. Perhaps it’s because of the way in which I portray people of color—and it’s better to have diversity showcased in the industry then not at all. But that isn’t the only thing I can do. My work is about celebrating all types of beauty and all sorts of different backgrounds. A lot of artists of color are placed into a box and have a label attached to them, and I hope that we can move to a space where we’re seen as artists first and foremost, rather than being Black and being female.
[In terms of making pictures,] I’ve noticed that more and more photographers are using film and going back to earlier methods of creating images. Digital technology is faster, but I feel that it doesn’t sit or impact in the same way that film does. There’s something about knowing that you are limited in your frames that makes you put more thought behind the image you take.Kate and Laura Mulleavy, Designers and Directors, Rodarte
As an industry, we need to stop putting limitations on people. What you need to do to show a collection is what is intrinsically right for your creative process. That is when the emotion will carry through. [We] love a beautiful show, but that’s one format for doing it. A fashion show can be really expensive, and it’s not the only way to communicate emotion—some of the greatest fashion moments in our lifetime are photographs, portraits in a museum, film sketches. We need to be open-minded about the platforms because we also need new designers, new talent; we want more voices. This is what we’re all championing.Megan Thee Stallion, Musician
I want to make sure I am empowered by fashion—and that my hotties feel empowered too. I want them to see me, a woman who is not the industry sample size, feeling good and confident in my body and my style.Phil Oh, Photographer
If there are fashion shows, there will still be street style, but if all the brands start doing their own shows off the schedule and are flying individual people over for the shows at their own pace—you know with the resort shows how there’s Chanel in Dallas and Vuitton in Rio? If they start doing that for the other seasons, that might get a little difficult.
One thing I’m looking forward to with my slideshows is presenting a lot of diversity. It’s up to the brands to make and build relationships with influencers who aren’t already the established, well-known pretty young blondes. I’m not taking away from the pretty young blondes, but I’m looking forward to seeing how brands develop their relationships with a more diverse group of influencers. It’s not always up to the photographers. If someone asks, “Why don’t you shoot more people who are XYZ,” it’s like, “Why don’t you hire more XYZ and send them to the shows. Why don’t you invite more XYZ?”Sima Sistani, CEO and Co-Founder, Houseparty
What we're seeing now is a shift back toward peer-to-peer and group interactions with people you really know and care about—it’s the TikTok teens in their bedrooms; it’s your peers on Houseparty; it’s local or niche micro influencers. You’re turning to that content and those people to help direct you toward what to care about. This next decade that's in front of us is about participation, and online participation—and bringing empathy to it.
For fashion, it’s almost like social style versus street style—and it's not necessarily about the big brands, the big influencers we’ve come to acknowledge. This evolution is an opportunity for labels that are open to taking on a more accessible approach to brand-building to move away from exclusivity to something more experiential. Something authentic and relatable doesn’t have to be at odds with the aspirational nature of fashion—the fashion industry and social are going to be working together in ways that we've never seen before. If you'd asked me a couple of years ago if we would have hosted a fashion show on Houseparty, I would have been like, Huh? And now that seems to be exactly where we’re going.
Interviews conducted by: Taylor Antrim, Brooke Bobb, Laird Borrelli-Persson, Hamish Bowles, Emily Farra, Mark Guiducci, Mark Holgate, Luke Leitch, Marley Marius, Chioma Nnadi, Janelle Okwodu, Nicole Phelps, Liana Satenstein, Chloe Schama, Emma Specter, Sarah Spellings, Lauren Valenti, and Steff Yotka.