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After months of lockdown, the coronavirus pandemic has made many people think what might change when we go “back to normal”. The effects of the coronavirus have already been predicted by the world’s most eminent trend forecaster Lidewij (also called Li) Edelkoort who says that the virus is “maybe the saving grace of our planet”. On Thursday, 25 June 2020, Li Edelkoort held an exclusive online talk on "The Future of Luxury", organised by Burda's luxury brands Elle, Esquire, Harper's Bazaar and Instyle as part of the new Burda initiative #FutureForFashion, part of the publishing initiative #AufbruchZukunft. The moderation and discussion after the talk was provided by Sabine Nedelchev, Kerstin Weng (Editors-in-Chief of Elle and Instyle) and Dominik Schütte (Esquire). Selected customers from the fashion and luxury industry, including the partners of the #FutureForFashion initiative, took part in the talk. Forecaster Li Edelkoort – now in lockdown in Cape Town – predicted that after the coronavirus, people will slow down and create new and interesting things out of hope for a brighter future.
What everyone knew but has never been able to change – until now
Before the pandemic made the world pause for several months, Li Edelkoort discovered changes that should have happened long ago. But never did. The coronavirus showed that it was possible to slow down global warming and pollution when production and traffic were forced to come to a halt. Natural disasters, animal extinctions, endangered species and humans in general are threatening the state of the world. “So far, the virus helped us to reconsider,” Edelkoort said. “Everything that we lived through after the virus we already knew: that we were overworking, outstressed, producing too much information, too much merchandise. This was very bad for the planet and we should stop,” she explained. This is where the pandemic became the tipping point.
The awakening during the virus
Suddenly, people “came to amazing conclusions”. Edelkoort observed how sleep positively affected people’s looks, how they found out that their kids were great and how they discovered dancing and baking. Through the forced lockdown people are rethinking their habits and future. “Many things that were predicted in the past, like working from home, are now going to be the norm,” announces Edelkoort. And with the changes in flexible working and living, cities would also change, and nature would become the new living space for younger generations when they try to escape congested big cities.
Humans are an endangered species
In Edelkoorts opinion, the pandemic is probably the turning point that forces humanity to slow down and rethink nature and human lives. “Even though the coronavirus hasn’t been there long enough to have a long-lasting influence now, the changes will be visible in the next five to ten years,” explained the trend forecaster. Before the virus, Edelkoort was entrenched in research for her current manifesto on how the future of luxury will look like, five years from now. Her work is focused on endangered animals, our planet and humans as an endangered species as well. According to her, the pace at which people have lived would not allow any species to permanently survive on the planet. That does not mean that people will have to give up on luxury – Edelkoort does see a future for a sustainable and luxurious life with quality materials and handmade objects and fashion.
Luxury and getting closer to nature
According to the trend forecaster, the new luxury will go hand in hand with being close to nature. Plants, trees and natural materials will play an important role in architecture, fashion and people’s lives. “We will listen to the forest, we will be inspired by stillness, rescuing bees and constructing a green world,” lists Edelkoort. Being more connected with nature would also mean that people “will be rethinking travel” and international business. Edelkoort predicts trains rather than airplanes as major means of transportation, as well as more electric vehicles and e-scooters, which will lessen air pollution. Meditations, energy and spirit will replace the controlled chaos that people were used to before. “We need to create an atmosphere where our lives will become more important than our labor,” states Edelkoort.
The future of fashion
Stillness is one of the main aspects the well-known trend forecaster sees in the future of fashion. This means classic fashion with light tones, pure and white colors – ageless and improvised. The importance of fashion lies in the quality and beauty or as Li Edelkoort phrases it: “God is in the details here”. She concludes that in future we will have to buy less clothing items and choose those with more deliberation, so that our consumer habits will become more sustainable and less obsessive.
After listening to the talk, Sabine Nedelchev, editor-in-chief Elle, asked how the forecasts concern magazines and what they should concentrate on. Edelkoort commented: “You should use less images, more white and light colors, samples and opinions in magazines. Photoshootings can be casual and do not need expensive locations. A bathroom can also be enough, or a shooting on Zoom.” She added: “We should also rethink advertisements. Reaching people would mean to concentrate on the needs of the clients and intuitively anticipating what they might want.”
By Regine von Kameke and Ellina Totoeva