There are few incentives to wear our finery while working from home. Designer Paula Gerbase says that we should emerge from the lockdown with renewed vigour to dress up and buy smart.
“When thinking about what clothes and objects people will want when we come out of this, I go back and forth. It could be about “less is more” – about bringing things into our lives that speak of the values we hold and aligning ourselves with designers or brands that are trying to make a difference. And then the other side of my brain is saying: actually, people are just going to want to go back to normal, to doing what they always did, because that’s what’s going to feel comforting. They won’t want to question anything.
Regardless, it’s undeniable that there’s a growing movement of people who are craving more. I don’t mean buying more things but expecting more from companies, designers and makers. The way in which products are made needs to be aligned with the idea of ‘do no harm to the environment’. Or at least aspiring to that; it’s not something you can achieve straight away. The telltale sign will be seeing how companies communicate when things open up: whether they go back to trying to sell you as much stuff as possible or if they have decided to shift the way they operate.
Hopefully we’ll come out of this valuing quality and a certain permanence. That doesn’t mean that there’s no newness because I think we’ll always want something that’s fresh and that is a reflection of our times. At the moment everyone’s talking about casualwear and loungewear. There are countless articles about house shoes and dressing from the waist up but then wearing boxer shorts below – and, yes, that’s our reality right now. Most people are in this ‘same-y’ mindset. We’re all wearing the same thing around the house. We’re all seeing each other on the same tinted screens where you don’t notice how an earring falls or the details on a shirt collar.
Because of that, I think attention to detail and expressing yourself will become important. Personally, I can’t wait to get dressed up. I hope there will be a return to simple moments that you can look forward to. When design comes into that, maybe it’s a beautiful meal on some fun crockery or putting on eveningwear again. Personality isn’t something that can be communicated by buying mass-produced stuff. I think celebrations of personal style and of the joy of dressing up and seeing each other will be supported by a growth in beautiful things.”
About the interviewee: Gerbase, a Brazil-born, London-based designer, launched womenswear label Gerbase in 2019 and is creative director of shoe-maker John Lobb.