Ed's letter | Out of office
I See Prada just hosted its Spring/Summer 2022 mens-wear show on a Sardinian beach. The models walked in terribly short shorts, which were a mere slip away from underpants, and oversized jackets — blazers, really — complemented by awkward ties and bucket hats. If this is the future, it is still undecided! The clothes seemed to be asking themselves, “Should I manifest on this webinar, go fishing, or skive off to a ’90s rave?” And that just about sums up the state we are in. Our relationship status with whatever counts as normal life now is complicated. It makes sense that our clothes, which once had a relatively clear correlation between form and function, would be a little existentially confused. What are they even for these days?
Prada is nothing if not an astute reader of the moment. A fashion haruspex — reading the entrails of our lives and making meaning. And clothes. So, to beaches — who knew they would become such a point of contention? As we cycle through the Greek alphabet of Covid-19 strains, we cannot even be sure that the longed-for vaccines will do their jobs and keep us out of the hospital and on a trajectory to a reasonable semblance of life as we knew it. We are all probably still going to be working from home for quite a while, as many companies and governments wade into the remote-working conundrum. The beach office would be the best possible outcome. Emerging from your beach hut for your Zoom meeting in your semi-operational work gear, while grabbing a bit of sun on your nether regions. Nice work if you can get it.
Prada is pointing to our now-tenuous relationship with office life. The jacket/underpants combos that proliferated on Zoom are a strange fashion artefact, and if this is next year’s sartorial prediction then this truncated life may not be over quite yet. More to the point, will we ever choose to dress in full workwear again? And will we ever really go back to the office as we knew it?
LOOK | Page through the digital copy of Wanted's July issue (enlarge for easy viewing):
Yesterday I popped into my office — counter to instructions to try to stay away. I was in gym kit. It felt sacrilegious. I was just passing through, picking something up, and the ritual of dressing in my work armour — my proactive and protective exoskeleton that I have worn for years to establish formal boundaries between myself and chaos — seemed redundant. God knows, I haven’t seen many of my colleagues in the flesh for well over a year, and hardly anyone was mooching around the empty shell of the workspace. Many of my workmates decisively switched their cameras off at the beginning of the first lockdown and never turned them on again.
For all I know, they could be fishing, or on the beach, quietly going about their lives — in a new hybrid format — in teeny-tiny shorts and a jacket. And a bucket hat to keep the sun off their necks.
In other news, I am delighted to welcome Siphiwe Mpye as the new editor of Wanted. Our next edition in August will be his first, but here is a short introductory note from him:“As an advocate for and lover of print, I am privileged to take over the reins of a legacy brand and industry leader. I look forward to maintain-ing the magazine’s high editorial and aesthetic standards as I introduce new voices and explore new methods of storytelling, in an irreversibly digital world.”
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