Will global warming change fashion?

We are barely in the middle of July and this summer 2022 has already experienced two heat waves in France, with temperatures above 40 ° C for several days. In addition to these peaks, the thermometer is constantly rising. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) estimates that the last seven years, from 2015 to 2021, are the seven warmest ever. And looking at the first half of 2022, it does not look like the streak is coming to an end.

Temperatures that make you want to burn – an otherwise stupid idea – your pants, long shirts and other clothes that are too hot to hold for the slightest outing. Will global warming disrupt the way we dress with fashion adapting to new weather standards?

Heat, an important criterion, but not a priority

Majdouline Sbai, teacher-researcher at the University of Lille and author ofIs ethical fashion possible? (Rue Echiquier, 2018), reminiscent of the anecdote: In 2017, H&M caused a scandal after burning 12 tons of unsold clothing over the past year. The mild winter, according to the brand, would have been to blame for this clothing not finding takers. A proof that fashion can fail if it does not live up to weather expectations.

But beware, “there are plenty of criteria other than temperature for designing or buying a garment,” analyzes Marie-Pierre Julien, associate professor of sociology and anthropology and specialist in outfits. In Morocco, children at 35 ° C wear the same clothes as those in Paris at 20 ° C. Above all, clothing has a social function. “Yes, but the weather still has an influence on the way we dress: ‘You just have to watch all the children being scolded by their mother in the winter when they are not covered enough,'” the sociologist smiles.

Towards a revolution?

For Adrian Kammarti, specialist at the Institut français de la mode and professor of art history at the University of Paris at the Sorbonne, “the functional dimension is not the only factor that explains whether one chooses a piece in the morning. But it is likely that we perceives an adaptation to the new climatic configurations. ”An interesting challenge in his eyes: are we moving towards shorter clothes, where the miniskirt dethrones the dress and more impressive shorts rays than the trousers? Or towards clothes designed in lighter materials: no more jeans , hello silk? Or against a new revolutionary material: The shirts of the future will be in cloud powder, for freshness no matter what?

Majdouline Sbai informs us: At the moment, most of the clothes are made of polyester, a material that does not perform well in relation to temperature changes. “Hemp or flax, much more breathable products, could be preferred”.

In search of comfort

Revolution in form or technical revolution, the development of clothing sold after the weather would follow a fundamental trend, according to Adrian Kammarti: the search for comfort: “In 2022, women no longer need to wear crinoline, and men’s three-piece binding. We can therefore, assume that climate change is leading to a reformulation of clothing that is compatible with an ever-increasing reduction in wardrobe. “

From there to see sandals become Stan Smiths of the 2050s? Not so fast. Admittedly, the outfits become more comfortable with time, which does not prevent you from feeling a little embarrassed when you go out in leggings on Sunday morning to buy croissants. “Fashion does comfort-washing: There is an impression of comfort, but in reality it is far from a priority. The emphasis on social standards will always be much greater, ”continues Marie-Pierre Julien. Same sense of nuance at Majdouline Sbai: “The clothes are so standardized that we would rather adapt our surroundings to seek comfort. For example, in the summer, stay in costume but work in places with air conditioning. Ditto in the winter, where some prefer warmth over a sweater. »

What future for clothing?

Pants and long shirts could therefore provide resistance. Majdouline Sbai: “There are already countries with very high temperatures and the men do not wear Bermudas there. “But be careful, because shorts and shirts are looking to take power. At least most of the time.” Like men’s shoes that have gradually evolved towards a more formal use with the appearance of sneakers and the functional and stylistic advantages they presented, we can assume that long pants or will be limited to a professional context or a particular position “, analyzes analysts. Adrian Kammarti.

Majdouline Sbai continues with a possible ecological awareness: “This adaptation of our environment to comfort is very expensive in energy, whether it is with air conditioning in summer or heating in winter. It is possible that we change logic and that we decide to dress for the temperature. ”

But dress codes are dying hard. During the celebration of the end of the year, the French rapper Maes was denied access to a restaurant in Qatar, at 25 ° C outside, because he was wearing Bermuda shorts, the researcher notes. Proof that no, really, the temperature is not at all.

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