How Fashion is Embracing Inclusivity and Sustainability to Survive

What is your background and how did you get started in fashion?

I am originally from the Ukraine and now based in New York. I grew up during very uncertain times as my home country was trying to become independent. During that time of economic crisis fashion was not a priority so my dream of becoming a stylist was postponed for many years.

I put my dream to one side and completed university. I achieved my bachelor’s degree (mostly to keep my family happy) and I worked in the corporate world. Like so many others, I was always looking for a way out and I knew I needed something more.

One day I decided to break free, and I left a well-paid job to join a Style and Design Academy. It was a big step into the unknown. Looking back, this was a turning point in which I gained control of my life through pursuit of my greatest passion. I graduated at the top of my class and got a job offer from one of the Ukraine’s largest and most well known television channels. That’s how my professional journey began.

10 years later, I look back, and I am proud of my portfolio: TV projects, music videos with international stars, editorial photoshoots for renowned brands, and my personal favourite – fashion shows in New York and Paris.

fashion evolves through covid toward sustainability

How has the fashion industry been affected by COVID-19?

Every person, industry, and community in the world has been affected and we live in a totally different reality compared to that in 2019. Creative industries have been hit hard, but as a group we are strong, resilient, and adaptive – we need to change to survive.

The fashion industry along with many others is becoming digitised. Whilst e-commerce booms, retail has suffered huge losses. There are opportunities here but shopping as experience is largely on pause, if not over.

Fashion comes to life through the stores in the form of merchandising and retail “magic”. The excitement and thrill of trying on a new garment and pairing it up with other pieces or accessories cannot be replicated online.

Only the strongest brands have survived 2020. Only the most courageous, creative and innovative young designers were able to penetrate the market and thrive. Whilst legacy brands struggled to tempt consumers, disruptive storytellers emerged with brand new concepts. The world was crying out for change and some brands starting trending when they showed fashion to be more than just clothes. These new players started broadcasting their unique stories and building a genuine dialogue with their customers. Fashion has become much more expressive and representative of values, persona, and individuality than ever before.

This year it is not only about looking good, but also about being practical, staying safe, speaking to your values, and giving back to your community.

Gucci made waves with its inclusive modelling campaign, is this a trend we can expect to see others follow?

Definitely. Inclusivity has been massive in high fashion for years, the high street followed, social media demanded more and now it cannot be ignored. Brands need to be able to relate to individuals all over the globe. Fashion is part of our life, it is in our DNA, no matter a person’s shape, religion, or ethnicity. Beauty stems from diversity.

To what extent are designers embracing “normal sized” models?

The market has become much more competitive and every brand needs to adapt. “Perfect” size standards are disappearing from fashion, even from the runway. Consumers don’t want to buy from “perfect” images anymore, they need someone relatable. Designers are reacting to the demands of the market, they are creating pieces for “real people”. Change will take time, but the industry is on the right track.

Is sustainability going to be a big trend for the fashion industry?

Yes, for sure. Collectively, we need to be more responsible and everyone has to contribute. Consumers are moving away from fast fashion towards items that can be worn for years and styled in many ways. Buying clothes now is an investment into one’s comfort and presentability, people are more likely to spend more money for something that not only will make them look good, but also will remain timeless and will be worn for many seasons.

Fashion becomes more sustainable

You produce fashion shows, what are the 3 biggest challenges of doing this?

New York and Paris Fashion Weeks are about managing chaos, supervising and leading a team of 200+ creatives and having the friendliest smile on your face whatever is happening. It is the most nerve racking and stressful week of the year! During the shows, I barely sleep or see my family, but there is a magic to the production that I love. I thrive under the pressure, I love every second of my day, the adrenaline and thrill keeps me going and this incredible energy cannot be found anywhere else.

Why is fashion important?

Fashion is a form of art incorporated into our daily life, it has so much power and so much meaning. No matter what sceptics say, fashion is an expression. It has the power to tell a story, boost confidence, and provide a mirror into our soul.

Where can people learn more about you?

For Fashion inspiration and styling tips you can find me on Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/alinakotsiubka/?hl=en

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