For the very first episode of Cappuccino Chats, FI speaks to three fashion students studying media, styling, and journalism. This episode discusses the triumphs and frustrations of graduating in lockdown and what it’s like to be the class of 2020. From Ciara, embarking on her final year at university to both Nicky and Chloe preparing to enter an overcrowded job market, turned upside down by the pandemic. The future is uncertain for these 3 budding fashion enthusiasts.
The Class of 2020 – What it’s like to graduate in lockdown
May 15, 2020
Fashion Intern is here to share the stories of how interns and graduates have been affected by Covid-19, shining a spotlight on the sacrifices final year students have had to make in saying goodbye to the life they once knew and the plans that have been stolen from them. The pandemic has thrown everything into limbo and forced universities and fashion schools to cancel final year shows, summer balls and graduation in line with social distancing requirements. Students who were excited about the prospects of presenting their graduation collections at various events or had jobs lined up suddenly face an uncertain future. It is said by the Guardian that “youth unemployment in Britain will reach the 1 million mark over the coming year and school leavers and graduates due shortly to join the labour market will be the most exposed age group to the likely unemployment surge.”
Disha Kapoor's experience
Disha, an undergraduate studying Architecture at the University of Bath, hopes to study a Masters in Package Design at the Pratt Institute in New York.
"Some people are planners, who plan out every single day of their life, and some just like to wing it and live in the present. I am a die-hard planner. As far as I can remember, I have vehemently mapped out every phase of my life, from school to university and of course, my career. Being in the class of 2020 has not only been disappointing to me as a final year student but my future plans are now uncertain. I have spent most of my four years slogging away in the studio and meeting deadlines. Graduation was supposed to be the biggest day of my life so much so, I had actually put up a calendar in my room, to cross out every single day up to graduation in thick, black marker.
I had already set my heart on a graduation dress and had planned out my poses and Instagram captions for the most amazing day of my life. Hence, when I received the dreadful email saying that my graduation had been cancelled due to COVID-19, I cursed everyone, the world, this year, my university and so on. Being a planner that I was, I had already applied to New York for a master’s program and had successfully gained a scholarship. New York had been my dream and the next goal after graduation. I had worked extremely hard to get in and was so excited to kickstart my career. Unfortunately, due to the current situation, I have been forced to defer to next year. Honestly, I was angry, frustrated and also heartbroken. I felt like my life had come to a strange halt and I had nothing to look forward to. I had mapped my career timeline and now it just feels I have no control over how and when things will change. I had huge expectations of how my final year would turn out. I had planned about three graduation trips, booked tickets for the most awaited graduate event at university, the Summer Ball.
But leaving aside everything, I thought I still had a lot of time in the city that had become my home with my friends who had become my family. I still remember how I had just 12 hours to pack up my university life and fly back home. It still breaks my heart how I will never get the opportunity to wear a graduation gown and receive my degree which I had worked so hard for. The past few weeks have given me a lot of time to accept this new and alternate reality. It has also reminded me that I don’t have control over anything. I am trying to look for a positive outcome at every heart-breaking decision that has been taken for me this year by the force of nature. At 21, this was not how I imagined I would be living my life. I’m not meeting people, I’m not applying for internships or jobs, I have no idea what to wake up and look forward to during the day. I have always been a workaholic who likes 'to-do lists' with a cup of coffee every morning and this new reality is hard to digest. Looking at the brighter side, I have been able to sit back and spend more time with my family, which I hadn’t done in four years. I will be taking this year out to exploring different kinds of work through social media, learning new skills and working on a lot of personal projects to enhance my portfolio.
I felt had come to a strange halt and I had nothing to look forward to.
Luckily, we live in an age of remote internships and job opportunities, which are easily accessible and provide a similar learning experience. It is very easy to be disheartened and frown upon everything that has gone wrong and unexpected, but this is the only time we can focus on ourselves, enhancing our skillset and diversifying it. I’m also excited about what lies ahead and to see how the design industry will react to this 'new normal'. I will still continue to make plans but what I’ve learnt is to try to achieve them in a broader and personal sense including every challenge and uncertain context. This is what makes the class of 2020 extraordinary."
From Arushi Carla’s perspective. A graduate in BA (Hons) Fashion PR & Communications at London College of Fashion. Currently undertaking a Masters in Marketing at Durham University and before Covid-19, Arushi was searching for job opportunities.
Arushi Carlra's experience
The start of the new decade was supposed to be everyone’s “year”; it was the year we would get in shape, find our perfect jobs, meet the love of our lives and (obviously) the year we would travel the world. In reality, the year had started with me and my anxiety-struck brain processing another “it’s not you, it’s us” affair from a company that (once again) couldn’t afford to sponsor my visa. I was stuck trying to balance finding a job and making plans to move back to Dubai if nothing worked out. Weirdly enough, a couple of weeks before everything shut down, I had finally found my calling - the perfect job, the perfect company - it was almost too good to be true! I reached the final stages of the interview process and was ready to smash that writing task - except the Universe had its own plans...
When lockdown hit the streets, it honestly felt like I had just been sent to my room by some weird earthly energies as a form of punishment for existing. I might as well have been reliving the dreaded years of my teenage youth. All of a sudden, not only was my dream job off the table, my final boozy brunches in London were cancelled and to top it all off, with borders closing left, right and centre, I was now no longer able to leave the country (India, my blessed passport nation closed its borders entirely with no indication of when they would re-open, even to their citizens… charming). On the upside, there were definitely worse things than being stuck in London. The cute little Hackney house that I had moved into just a month pre-lockdown had now become the only place I could safely be and my two housemates, the only two people I was allowed to socialise with (I was honestly thanking the heavens that we didn’t hate each other).
All of a sudden, not only was my dream job off the table, my final boozy brunches in London were cancelled and to top it all off, with borders closing left, right and centre, I was now no longer able to leave the country
The first few weeks were difficult; quarantined days became long(er), filled with binge-watching episodes of Money Heist and stuffing my face with custard creams. Catching up with friends had me wishing I could crawl through my laptop screen to be with them in person. With all this extra free time, I found myself endlessly scrolling through social media, thinking about how I could be as wholesome as the rest of the digital sphere was posing to be. Surely, I could embrace a Lockdown Glow-Up - everyone else seemed to be doing it! First on the list - the splits. Having been on the Nationals-winning cheer squad at University, I had seen my fair share of mad flexibility thrown around… but you’re talking to the girl that broke her arm trying to do a round-off (yes, I question daily how I made the team in the first place), so doing the splits seemed like a fair achievement to aim for. After 45 minutes of yoga and stretching, I slid my left leg forward into my first attempt at the side splits. With about six inches off the ground, I was starting to feel the burn, and as I leaned over to stabilise myself… snap! (okay, it wasn’t that dramatic) Clumsy me had pulled my hamstring!
With splits training gone bust, I had to go find something else that would glow me up. It had to be banana bread. There seemed to be something about this heavenly baked good that was sending everyone over the edge, maybe I needed some of that in my life too? With all the ingredients laid out in front of me, I began mixing everything together, this was easy. With the batter made and in a baking tin, I popped it in the oven and put sixty minutes on the clock. What could go wrong now? After an hour, I glanced in the oven to notice the bread hadn’t completely set, so I added another fifteen minutes on the clock. Still not done. What was going on?! After ninety minutes, I decided enough was enough - it had to come out now. As I tipped the bread over gently to place it on a cooling rack… it was stuck and the middle was still undercooked (*insert upside down emoji here*). My housemate helped me salvage what we could of the bread trying numerous things to make it work, but it was too late… time of death, five pm.
From Arushi Carla’s perspective. A graduate in BA (Hons) Fashion PR & Communications at London College of Fashion. Currently undertaking a Masters in Marketing at Durham University and before Covid-19, Arushi was searching for job opportunities
As much as I would have liked to say that I came out of lockdown with a new party trick AND a maverick baker (I’m such an optimist), those things clearly weren’t for me! Sitting here writing this, I can’t help but think what my next lockdown challenge will be… suggestions welcome!
Covid-19 & the effect on the fashion industry
May 15, 2020
From historic fashion houses producing face-masks for the NHS to GQ getting their cover star to shoot his own portraits, the fashion industry is adapting to the new normal in many different ways. The Covid -19 pandemic has had a colossal effect on almost every industry, and so it follows that the fashion industry has also been experiencing the effects of a global health crisis. The fashion industry’s deterioration would see a series impact on the global economy, not to mention the furloughing or unemployment status of millions of designers, illustrators, seamstresses and more. All the while the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, the fashion industry’s fate hangs in the balance. The brands that focus on collaboration and innovation will have the best chances of survival.
The show must go on
Dior workshops have been closed since March 17th, however, that certainly doesn't mean work has stopped. Dior seamstresses, continue their craft at home to ensure production of the upcoming collections even with the quarantine restrictions. The new way of working, supported by numerous video conferences, illustrates the determination and spirit of these artisans who in just a few weeks adapted their habits to their new working environment, guaranteeing that the runway show will go on. From those working on new haute couture creations in their homes to the artisans in Redon joining the nationwide battle against Covid-19 by making masks, Dior seamstresses shine with their resilience and solidarity.
Celebrities become photographers
GQ has just released their June/July cover star with Robert Pattinson. The issue features self-portraits by Robert Pattinson himself and brings an organic and candid vibe to the publication. The photographs are so good, they could have been taken by a professional. From interviews over zoom, GQ has completely altered the usual practice of getting content and show how being innovative can transform a brand’s image. Thus, VOGUE produced a series of candid selfies featuring Kim Kardashian and her children, snuggled up on the sofa.
The impact on third world countries
A humanitarian crisis is sadly unfolding in Bangladesh, with the fate of 4.1 million garment workers in the hands of western fashion brands, who have reportedly cancelled over $2.8 billion in orders as the COVID-19 crisis escalates. With so many store closures, many brands are refusing to accept completed garment orders, which they would no doubt struggle to sell during the current global lockdowns. According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president, Rubana Huq, “many garment factories in Bangladesh have received impersonal corporate emails from brands cancelling garment orders, and have subsequently ceased communication with factories altogether.” Moving forward, the responsible approach is for brands and retailers to find ways to access lines of credits or other forms of government support to cover their obligations to supplier factories so that they can cover their expenses and pay their workers, in order to avoid sending millions of workers home with no ability to put food on the table.
The fight against Covid-19
As the spread of the virus intensifies, Chanel has pledged to produce over 50,000 facemasks and gowns for healthcare workers, police and other essential workers in France. Levi Strauss and Co. have been doing their part to help fight against COVID -19 by hosting its virtual concert series of Instagram Live and donating $10,000 per performance to a charity picked by the artist. UGG along with its parent company has launched the new initiative Better Together, where brands will donate more than $1 million to COVID-19 relief efforts through monetary and product donations. Louis Vuitton announced it will repurpose its American workshops to produce non-surgical face masks. Nike is donating $5.5 million worth of product, including its new Air Zoom Pulse sneakers to frontline healthcare workers. Net – a – porter announced that it will be utilising its vehicles that usually deliver its fashion to deliver food and supplies to seven charities in London. Burberry announced on its website that it would be dedicating significant time, money and resources to helping with the COVID – 19 global pandemic.