Is the fashion industry about to have a major facelift?

The big names of fashion have spoken. The industry needs to change. And it starts with the fashion seasons themselves. Led by Dries Van Noten, an “Open Letter to the Fashion Industry” was released last week and has now garnered hundreds of signatures from international designers and retailers. The letter calls for a dramatic restructuring of the industry, initially triggered by the current COVID-19 crisis.

The list includes the likes of Riccardo Bellini of Chloé, the Missoni group and Gucci shoe designer, Micol Colombo. It also features a range of universities, publishers and fashion consultancies, which shows the scale of interest in the matter. With a delay on Autumn deliveries for clothing stores, Van Noten highlighted the problems with the current running of the industry. He noted that if his autumnal collections were to arrive in stores by September, instead of the usual July, it bares a question of whether the prices would be slashed after a mere two months, when the season would commonly be considered at its end.
The letter proposes a shift in the current sales season, selling autumn collections from August to January and spring collections in February to July – which actually makes a lot of sense. It is then that discounts would be at the end of these periods, prolonging the full-price selling season. In a conversation with Vogue, the Belgian designer said: “It’s not normal to buy winter clothes in May. It’s not normal to work with the design team on a collection that hits the shop floor one month and a half before it’s discounted by 50 percent.”

The reality is that things do need to change which, for some fast fashion houses, could be discouraging. However, with the moving around of fashion weeks, digital shows being the new norm and autumn collections not making an appearance in shops until said season, it seems that these proposals are already underway. The changes also feed into their call for a sustainable turnaround. Their promises include less unnecessary products, less fabric waste and less travel. The sustainability aspect is very much a welcomed rejuvenation, and something an increasing number of consumers are demanding too.

As we carry on with our lives within an indefinite lockdown period, it has certainly become evident of how much the world needs us to reflect on our behaviour. It is promising to hear a glimmer of hope from the faces of the fashion industry, who actively want to slam on the breaks and take a new road.

The statement concludes: “Working together, we hope these steps will allow our industry to become more responsible for our impact on our customers, on the plant and on the fashion community, and bring back the magic and creativity that has made fashion such an important part of our world.”

By Rachel Douglass