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How was 2020 the Year of Staying Home but also the Year of the Fantasy Dress?

Due to the fact that this year has been objectively insane, it does feel like a decade since the internet's obsession with THE Strawberry Dress. But strangely enough, Strawberry Dress did happen this year, in spite of the fact that there was approximately 0 events to dress up for.

Strawberry Dress by Lirika Matoshi x Linda Ravenscroft

For those of you who have trauma induced memory loss from 2020, the Strawberry Dress was an absolutely viral garment over the summer by imaginative designer Lirika Matoshi, which got it's legs on TikTok. While the dress made a red carpet appearance on Tess Holliday all the way back in January, it became the memorable piece of the moment thanks to countless viral videos and the arrival of Cottagecore on the fashion scene, even earning its own Vogue article questioning the garment's popularity.

And the Strawberry Dress was not alone in its glory. Fairytale brand Selkie quickly grew in popularity this year, also offering puff sleeves and full skirts in cotton-candy colours. Even their sickeningly-sweet Instagram page feels torn from the pages of a storybook, full of dessert inspo images and dreamy movie stills. And while these fanciful dresses are certainly aesthetically pleasing, how is it that they became the must-have item in such a time of austerity?

"And while these fanciful dresses are certainly aesthetically pleasing, how is it that they became the must-have item in such a time of austerity?"

Much like the popularity of the silver screen during the great depression, fashion girls are enamoured with the Strawberry Dress and Selkie alike, as some sort of escapism during troubling times. In interviews with Strawberry Dress patrons, Vogue determined that shoppers are looking for a sense of joy during the pandemic. While 2020 is arguably the worst year any of us have ever seen, if not experienced, so many fashion-fiends sought bliss in dresses straight out of a story book.

Not only were Selkie & Lirika Matoshi dresses a much-needed palette cleanser for both sweatsuits, as well as the atrocities of this year, but they're also a symbol of increased consumer awareness. As the pandemic rolls on, and we're still confined to our houses, many consumers have found themselves with more time on their hands to understand where and how their clothes are made. Because of this, many environmentally concerned shoppers are able to put their morals into practice, taking the time to research who they buy from.

"As the pandemic rolled on, and we were (and still are) confined to our houses, many consumers found themselves with more time on their hands to understand where and how their clothes are made."

What does this have to do with the Strawberry Dress and Selkie's fairy-esque creations? Both Lirika Matoshi, and Kimberly Gordon, former WILDFOX co-founder and the designer behind Selkie, are conscious of their brands' impact. While Kosovo-native Matoshi's garments are handmade in NYC as well as her own factory in her native country, Selkie is committed to their own environmental evolution, and produces in small batch to prevent waste. And it seems that this concern with fashion sustainability manages to trump desirable fast fashion prices, even during an economic rough patch.

Selkie Baby Banana Puff Dress

It's no secret that many of us struggled financially thanks to the pandemic-induced recession. So the fact that fantastical dresses, which laugh in the face of utility, are the symbol of our plague year, is questionable. However, thanks to an increased concern with sustainability and more time to learn about the impact of our purchases, the reasonably high costs of these ethically made dresses does not seem to have consumers turning away.

Not only did responsible production become a high priority in 2020, but consumers have a shifted outlook thanks to the horrors of the pandemic. It seems many shoppers have begun to prioritize joy over utility when they can. So, if a sustainable, albeit high-price fantasy dress can be budgeted in, shoppers who have greatly suffered throughout the year are more willing to treat themselves to a dress that sparks happiness. In such a touch-starved era, who are we to withhold joy?

All in all, 2020 being the year of the fantasy dress doesn't exactly check out given current circumstances. But regardless, anybody who's opened Instagram explore can confirm that the Strawberry Dress, Selkie's creampuff fits, and countless other fairytale dresses have been everywhere. So as we bid 2020 adieu, we thank the fantasy dress for bringing smile to our face during a particularly dark time. Oh, and let's also hope to see even more knowledge and concern around how our clothes are made in 2021!

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