Jonathan Anderson On What Won't Be Coming Back Post-Pandemic
Where are you hunkered down right now and where are you in the coping process?
I’m home in London under lock down. Honestly I think the fashion world is still in a bit of a shock. We’re all still in crisis management and it’s going to take a while to understand how we go forward and what is next. For example in Asia, there’s a clearer understanding of how to grasp this problem because you’re used to wearing masks but in London, before the pandemic, if you were to wear a mask you’d look crazy, so there’s an entire education process going on here. I feel like right now every week is either a Monday or Friday and it’s on repeat [laughs].
What do you think won’t be coming back after the pandemic?
For the first time in seven years I haven’t had to go back and forth between London and Paris every week and I think through all this conference calling we’re realising that we don’t need to do 25 flights a year. I think the amount of travel won’t come back for many years which will hopefully benefit our environment. Sometimes you need two to three weeks to break habits and I hope this habit will stick because we’re seeing the positive effects of slowing down.
What role do you think fashion has to play in all this?
I think every industry has a role to play here. We have to come up with credible, real solutions to the environment and we need to work collectively with all the brands. It cannot be a PR stint—it needs to be a long term plan. To change something that’s been boiling since the industrial revolution is going to take, if we’re smart, half the amount of time it took to get to this point. These things cannot happen overnight and anyone who says so is not being honest, because it’s so much more complicated than that. Fashion is also a huge employer and through this time unemployment is going through the roof so we also need to balance that against environmental impact. I’m very fortunate and proud to say that I work for two amazing brands and have managed to keep employment completely the same and I hope to keep doing that no matter what.
What’s something you’ve created recently that you’re excited about?
I think our Cap Bag and chain loafers are really fun. I was looking the idea of function and decoration and flipping them. So for the chain, I took something utilitarian and made them big and decorative and the cap, which is quite functional, we had made in an amazing factory in Spain with hand-finished details. It’s that sense of irony that I hope makes people smile a bit.
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How do you see JW Anderson pivoting for good from now on?
I hope we’ll make more impactful styles but less in terms of quantity. JW Anderson is in a good position because we’re kind of a small brand that can focus on good ideas. Through this period, we’ve designed a double-sided fabric for bags made from 40 recycled bottles each, baskets by fishing basket makers in England and an NGO that supports women’s rights and education in Africa. We’re going to be focusing more and more on cultural awareness and giving back. Ultimately for me it’s not about making ginormous profits— it’s just making sure I can more than support my team so we can keep creating.
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