Our spring issue of women’s fashion is always carried out with an optimistic frame of mind; we begin to close it in January, when the year is cool and the sense of possibility – false or fleeting though – is still strong.
This particular January, of course, felt busier than most. Last year was our annus horribilis, and our expectations for this year are inevitably impossible. But while some eras have come to their legal or official conclusions, their consequences and repercussions persist – 2020 has reminded us that the past is never the past, even if we pretend the opposite.
Given that, it seems fitting that the stories in this issue are almost evenly split between those looking to the future and those looking back. In the first category, there are our fashion stories, designed for a time in the not too distant future when we can do things again – go to a party; go to a party with a lot of people; going to a party with a lot of people that we will want to dress for – it now seems impossible (although it might also be retrospective stories, a nostalgia for recent history).
Often, however, looking to the future also means confronting decisions and policies made long ago. In an essay in this issue, general writer Ligaya Mishan explores the new generation of food activists, whose collective mission is about everything from how our food is produced (and who produces it) to who can eat it. The pandemic, Mishan argues, has woken up many of us to the fact that choosing what, when and how we want to eat – Vegan? Biological? Freely? Local? – is a privilege granted to far too few. The dysfunctions of our modern food system date back to the 15th century, she writes; this scourge has given us the opportunity to view the problems of this system in cruel and insignificant ways and to decide how we can act. Because if the pandemic will eventually run its course, these systemic shortcomings will not: it is time to fix them.
But as disappointing as such knowledge can be, it is also a source of hope. The last chapter has not yet been written; what is broken can and should be fixed. So let’s greet the new year with enthusiasm, not forgetting the lessons of the old – we can see 2020 as the year when everything went wrong; or we can see it as the year when we finally opened our eyes and started the enlightened and determined walk towards our common future.