Victoria Beckham is feeling “optimistic but realistic” about the future of fashion, and focusing on comfort and longevity rather than glamour.
Denim, and dresses in soft jersey or georgette that can be worn at home – or dressed up post-lockdown with detachable corset belts – are the core of her new collection. Tailoring has been scaled back to reflect a lack of demand.
“These are seasonless pieces that are rooted in reality,” Beckham said, casually dressed in a baseball cap and T-shirt for a Zoom call from Miami, where she has been based since Christmas Day.
“It has always been my ethos that I want women to get wear out of my clothes. If we all came out of lockdown focused on buying stuff we want to wear for years that would be a great outcome for the environment – although don’t get me wrong, I still want women to buy my stuff.”
Beckham has bowed out of this season’s digital-only London fashion week, which begins on 19 February, in favour of “bridging seasons” with a commercially oriented collection that is already being sold to retail partners. The clothes were photographed at the Hayward Gallery in London last month, with Beckham and a stylist directing the shoot remotely from the US.
“Our strategic vision for the business this season is about acknowledging where we are right now,” Beckham said, adding that fashion’s seasonal calendar feels less relevant “since we don’t know when we will get out of lockdown. Some people’s toes curl at the mention of commerciality, but I love wearability, so long as it has that sparkle of fashion.”
Beckham’s 12-year-old label is yet to turn a profit and the consumer shifts brought about by the pandemic have been keenly felt by a label whose upmarket dresses seem designed with luxurious dinners at expensive restaurants in mind. “There’s no doubt that Covid has affected my business – I’m not alone in that. But we are addressing the situation head on and we’ve had a good start to this year.” Knitwear and limited-edition blankets have been selling well in the UK during this lockdown.
“I think all of us have grown to love our homes more over the past year. In the first lockdown David and I cleaned out every single cupboard in the house, which we’d never had time to do before,” Beckham said, adding that she was planning an at-home family Valentine’s celebration. “I have to tell you it’s not as posh as you might imagine our Valentine’s gifts to be. If you can’t get it on Amazon then don’t expect it, David Beckham.”
Beckham hopes to rejoin fashion week in September if catwalks are permitted. “I’ve been reminiscing about fashion week. I always find it super-stressful – my leading emotion is panic – but right now I would give anything to be doing a proper show. Next time I’ll make sure I really enjoy it.”
Beckham’s absence from next week’s lineup is a blow for London fashion week as it battles to sustain visibility after almost a year of shuttered catwalks. Burberry has also scaled back its presence with a menswear-only collection.
An open letter to Boris Johnson signed by 451 fashion industry leaders last week warned of “decimation” for the British fashion industry as the costs of Brexit double down on businesses already severely weakened by the pandemic. Many in the industry are angry at the lack of support for a sector that employs 890,000 UK workers and in 2019 contributed £35bn to the British economy, but which now faces devastation. Designers point to the stark contrast with the backing shown for the fishing industry, which employs 12,000 people and contributes £446m each year to the economy.
London fashion week recently announced two new partnerships, with TikTok and with the Australian “buy now, pay later” platform Clearpay, which will underwrite initiatives supporting new design talent and small independent fashion businesses. As part of its deal, Clearpay and the British Fashion Council plan to create “shoppable moments” online that will bring British fashion to a wider audience.