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Pillow Talk: The End of Toxic Hyperproductivity

It would be quite obvious to talk about the rise of Comfortwear as one of the most important trends of our time. We’re all tired of hoodies and sweatpants by now, if not traumati zed by them, special thank you to lockdown policies. This trend has been crucial since the  outburst of COVID-19 and a key outcome of our society retreating inwards, both physically  and emotionally speaking.  

However, what could be seen in recent runway shows, collections, graduate shows and all  over Instagram feeds is no simple hoodie, it’s Comfortwear times a zillion. Literal pillows  sewn onto garments and being carried as clutches at the JW Anderson AW23 runway,  show invitations and puffy, pillowy jackets at Prada’s Show, emerging brands such as  Cunnington & Sanderson showcasing pillow dresses and t-shirts in order to make a statement around mental health. What is this phenomenon if not an inflated, stuffed-up ver sion of comfortwear? -pun intended-. This very literal trend involving our favorite place on  earth, our bed, is a clear repercussion of a societal change involving young adults getting  under the covers of our toxic relationship with work and other activities and taking the  time to wind down and actually take care of ourselves. 

Waking up, working on your first job, heading to your second job, managing diverse  social media accounts for God knows who, working out, being social, eating takeout  dinner at 1am, sleeping for 4 hours, repeat. Kind of exhausting, isn’t it? It is no wonder that  we’re burnt out at twenty something years old. A whole generation of young adults tired,  lost, but understanding that this is not a sustainable way in which to go about our lives.  Understanding that slowing down is necessary for our physical and emotional wellbeing.  

Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed a pandemic, extreme temperatures evidencing  the worsening climate crisis, an ongoing war. Life as we know it is fleeting. The effects of  all these events are starting to take its toll, creating a new angst amongst the younger  generations. However, increasingly, young adults are deciding to change the matrix and  leave these toxic traits behind, focus on their mental and physical health, reconnect,  giving way to new trends in the fashion industry, rooted in this societal change, to  awaken. 

If you look at history, you will realize that this is anything but new. The decade of the 1970s  was marked by an oil crisis resulting in a world economic recession, unemployment, and  high levels of inflation. The view towards the future started to get slightly more critical  and reactionary. This saw the rise of the Punk Subculture, in the UK, which grouped thousands of dissatisfied young adults who rose against the system and consumerism,  making statements through their fashion and music choices. In the United States, a similar economic situation was taking place, in addition to the Vietnam War. Again, the  Hippie Movement emerged, joining thousands of young adults in a battle against war,  and the capitalist consumer society, using clothes, or lack thereof, and music as a vessel  for passive fight. Time and time again history proves that this angst present in young cul tures can be the bedrock for new subcultures, movements, and trends in regard to  fashion.  

In 1999, Zygmunt Bauman explored the concept of the Modern society in his acclaimed  book “Modern Liquity”. He talked about the modern world as one of infinite opportunities  and choices to be made. A world where human beings are fending for themselves in this  world full of possibility, not actually knowing what is right, what to choose, what to leave  behind, who to follow, leaving them in a state of total incompleteness and uncertainty. If  you ask me, this all sounds terribly contemporary.  

At our age, most of our parents already owned houses, had stable jobs and children. What  do we have to take care of for ourselves? Plants? Dogs? Our year-old sourdough starter?  It is only natural that in a sea of opportunities and comparing ourselves to our parent’s  younger selves we feel lost and end up grabbing every which one of them, with a fear of  missing out complex, leading to exhaustion and ultimately, burnout. However, as a generation, we’re starting to realize that this way of living cannot continue, and are increasin gly leaning towards activities that root us more deeply to ourselves, our homes, our rest, our peace.  

The time has come to put hyperproductivity, extreme working long hours and lack of  sleep and personal time to bed. These should not be indicators of how successful we are  anymore. There’s a hunger for wellness, exacerbated by what we have lived in these past  three years and burnout is simply not worth it. Literal pillows strutting down the runway  confirm that our best accessory is a consistent 8-hour sleep schedule. We might want  everything, as Bauman expresses, and we might get lost in the way, multiple times. But  from now onwards, before taking any rash decisions and overpack our Google Calendars  with multiple events and meetings and jobs that lead to exhaustion, we might simply  just have to sleep on it. 

words: Marina Teubal @maruteubal