Style as Escapism

History shows us that after troublesome times, society looks to fashion and style as a form of much-needed escapism, and this time won't be different.

In 1926, an economist called George Taylor presented a rather unique market cycle theory called the ‘Hemline Index’, which contended that in recessionary periods, ladies’ skirt lengths increased, while in boom times.. you guessed it. Quantitative data from 1921 to 2009 does indeed show that the Index has legs, so to speak, but that the economic cycle leads the hemlines by about three years, so if you factored on picking the next top or bottom in stocks by ‘regarding’ skirts, you’ve probably missed the boat. The point of this preamble, of course, is to iterate the idea that style and fashion are mirrors to the times we live in. The zeitgeist of any given period has much to do with the economic and social stability of said period and so one wonders how exactly our wardrobes will change to acknowledge and accommodate what is happening all around us now. 

What’s as certain as night follows day is that from dark times come brighter ones and that transition in sentiment is very often reflected in the way society has dressed. With the horrors of World War I behind them, the 20s generation let loose, famously ‘roaring’ into a rather short-lived period of bacchanalian spirit. For men, the early 20s meant ditching the classic morning suit in favour of slim-fitting ‘Jazz’ suits, which eventually gave way to the lounge suit. Likewise, after World War II, men left the professional pinstripe look behind to adopt slim rock’n’roll suits on the one hand, and jeans and t-shirts a la James Dean on the other. For women, the 20s heralded something of a sexual revolution. The prim and proper tenets of Victorian society were unequivocally rejected for the bold and brash in the form of beaded flappers dresses, feather headbands, long pearl necklaces, and art deco jewellery, drop-waist dresses and golf knickers. The 50s marked a transition towards female independence and empowerment, epitomised by a style of power dressing dubbed the ‘New Look’ by Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow. Houses such as Dior began to incorporate luxurious and voluminous fabrics; shoulders were soft rather than squared; the figure was hourglass (breathlessly so in many cases) instead of boyish; and the boxy skirt of the ration-happy ‘40s was replaced by a theatrical, billowing style that hit at mid-calf. In contrast, there were also pencil skirts cut so slim that they made walking difficult.

Favourbrook Womenswear escapism

So what of 2020 and beyond? Well, to see where we might be going, one needs to look at where we’ve been. We’ve had nigh on a decade of streetwear creeping into the highest echelons of style, with polyester track pants and quick-to-age sneakers being sold for more than hand-cut tailored trousers and bespoke shoes respectively. At Favourbrook, we’ve always believed in quality and timelessness, and we think this period of reflection will in many ways ‘re-school’ the general public in the concept of value. Moreover, the focus of the health of ourselves and loved ones will spill over into the health of the planet, something which has already built up great momentum. Consumers will demand fine fabrics with sustainable provenance. Locally manufactured small-batch collections will trump mass-produced globalised supply chains as people become more and more conscious about the consequences of their style choices. A good deal of Favourbrook’s garments are made in the UK and we use fabrics from suppliers we know well and who share our sustainability ethos.

With regards to menswear, we see a shift to a more formal way of dressing at first as men look to consolidate their wardrobes with timeless items of great quality. Escapism needn’t mean avant-garde or fantastical either - one can derive much joy from a beautifully cut suit in a fine fabric, knowing that with care, it will last a lifetime. Eveningwear, too, will provide the opportunity to dress up and revel in a sense of grandeur and occasion to offset the day-to-day strains of rebuilding the economy, and so we see more and more interesting interpretations of classic menswear silhouettes. Similarly, we believe casualwear will be defined by a move to quality as the throwawayism culture of fast fashion is rejected for a ‘buy less, buy better’ mentality that focuses on the provenance of fabrics and brands’ social and environmental responsibility. This is exemplified by our 100% Irish linen safari shirts which are an amazingly versatile example of tailoring designed to be thoroughly lived in.

For womenswear, we may revisit more classical interpretations of femininity together with a more focused sense of individuality. The time in quarantine has been a useful period for introspection and designers will be keen to create collections with narratives that are sensitive but also hopeful. At Favourbrook, our collections are always both! Our classic silhouettes eschew trends. We create shapes that are both flattering and tasteful, sophisticated and joyful, and always in luxurious fabrics with rich and vibrant embroidery.

We feel that clothes are like stories. They define moments in our lives. They are palimpsests, with new memories being woven into them each time we wear them. It’s why we have so much pride in our occasion wear. Fashion might be whimsical, but style  is something to cherish and preserve.

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