By Daisy Wallis
A much-needed reset of the fashion industry is something that has been highlighted during this unusual time of 2020. And whilst we have previously discussed the jump to digital fashion weeks, virtual fashion, and the effects on traditions like street style, it seems that another tradition of the industry has come under scrutiny – the outdated fashion seasons.
The seasons of the fashion calendar
The fashion calendar has provided a clear framework for designers, retailers, press and the consumer to produce, sell and buy the latest collections. With the turn of each season, fashion weeks are held around the world encouraging buyers, the media and influencers to flock to each destination to see the latest collections and trends.
What once was separated into Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter has quickly expanded, with pre-fall and pre-spring collections giving designers the chance to produce and sell even more product to the consumer and the media.
But having so many seasons and fashion weeks has had an enormous impact on the planet. The extent of the environmental impact of the travel alone to fashion weeks can be seen in a report by the ORDRE earlier this year. The report measured the carbon emissions of designers and retailers over 12 months from travel to the major fashion weeks in London, New York, Milan and Paris.
Starting from Spring/Summer 2018 and including pre-fall, Autumn/Winter and resort collections in an entire year, the emissions from travel alone totalled a massive 241,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
The impact of the many fashion weeks and seasons in the fashion calendar is devastating. The fashion calendar is in desperate need of reform to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry.
A fashion industry reset
The concept of an industry reset is something that the pandemic has highlighted, from the consumer up to the biggest organisations in fashion. For instance, the BFC and CFDA’s joint statement ‘The Fashion Industry’s Reset’ commitment to a greener future for the industry was very much rooted in creating and showing less.
Letting the creativity and storytelling of the designs influence collections instead of the pre-set multitude of seasons in the fashion calendar.
Similarly, Rewiring Fashion, a proposal for the global fashion industry is looking to rethink the traditions that make up the industry. The proposal first isolates two issues within the industry that are deeply rooted in the outdated model of both the fashion season calendar and the fashion show.
The campaign looks to shift the focus of the fashion seasons to the consumer – ensuring that the collections that are presented are ones that can be worn in the current season. The list of proposed changes also includes strategies to reduce the excessive levels of travel involved with attending fashion shows.
From combining men’s and women’s fashion weeks to synchronising buying periods with presentations, the proposed changes look to not only reduce the number of fashion weeks and seasons but puts the consumer at the heart of the event.
Alessandro Michele and a seasonless Gucci
Luxury brands are also making the move to a seasonless future. Creative Director of Gucci, Alessandro Michele, released a series of his own lockdown diaries detailing how the time has made him rethink his impact on the earth and society.
In a particularly poignant passage, Michele depicts this inner anguish at the harm our overconsumption has had on the environment;
“Our reckless actions have burned the house we live in. We conceived of ourselves as separated from nature, we felt cunning and almighty. We usurped nature, we dominated and wounded it. We incited Prometheus and buried Pan. So much haughtiness made us lose our sisterhood with the butterflies, the flowers, the trees and the roots.” – Alessandro Michele, Notes From The Silence
But it is the message that Michele declares of the future of Gucci that is most interesting and has sparked a much-needed rethink amongst other designers. As well as abandoning “the worn-out rituals of seasonalities and shows,” Michele announced that the brand will only present shows twice a year. Interestingly, the designer also discussed how the brand will move away from the labels of the current seasons of the fashion calendar.
The message in itself is a great triumph for the industry. With a luxury powerhouse like Gucci announcing a move away from the outdated fashion seasons and calendar, smaller brands and designers will likely follow suit. But the brand has also very much followed up with this promise of a greener future just weeks after the release of Michele’s notes.
Gucci’s new sustainable collection
As an extension of the Circular Lines initiative, Gucci announced the release of its first sustainable collection, Off the Grid. Mirroring the same concern for the environment as Michele’s Notes From Silence, the collection features genderless and seasonless ready-to-wear pieces, trainers and accessories made using recycled, organic, bio-based and sustainably sourced materials.
The Circular Lines initiative, including this latest environmentally friendly collection, represents a new era for luxury fashion. The initiative aims to implement circular production into the Gucci supply chain, reducing waste and ensuring that any waste is put back into the supply chain.
A seasonless future for more luxury fashion brands
French luxury fashion house, Saint Laurent announced that they too would be reshaping their schedule. In an announcement made across their social media channels, the Saint Laurent team similarly made reference to the current climate and the “waves of radical change,” that have occurred as a result of the pandemic.
Giorgio Armani has announced a similar move to a more seasonless approach to fashion. Whilst the designer has planned to show both women’s and men’s collections in September’s Milan Fashion Week, Armani has announced a seasonless collection for the Armani Privé collection. The collection, which has been postponed to January 2021, will be held in Milan despite being typically shown in Paris and will feature styles for both the winter and summer.
Whilst we can question the transparency of these seasonless claims made by each of these luxury fashion houses, the fact that such big names in the fashion industry, who have shown at these prestigious fashion weeks every season for years, are abandoning the norm and embracing change hints at a much brighter future for the industry.
Is the future of the fashion industry seasonless?
The announcements from leading figures in the fashion industry in recent months have highlighted the urgency and desire for change when it comes to the outdated fashion season calendar.
The future of luxury brands, like Gucci and Saint Laurent, is one that is driven by sustainability, creativity and the needs of the consumer. As Alessandro Michele described in his Notes From Silence, by abandoning “the worn-out rituals of seasonalities and shows” designers and brands can be driven by their own creativity and desires. Creating collections that not only reflect the brand’s uniqueness but also their commitments to issues like sustainability.
But what about the rest of the industry? As campaigns like Rewiring Fashion and The Fashion Industry’s Reset message by the BFC and CFDA emphasise a need for systemic change within the fashion world, it is important to consider how other parts of the industry can implement the same change.
Fast fashion, for example, is heavily influenced by the styles and trends seen every season on catwalks and presentations from around the world. Recreating styles and designs by luxury designers, fast fashion brands create at an alarming rate, with some releasing new products every week.
The environmental and societal effects of fast fashion have been highlighted throughout this pandemic, with workers across the world being left unpaid or working in dangerous environments.
As the fashion calendar is reduced like described in these proposals, and as consumers are encouraged to consume less and less, perhaps the desire for overconsumption too will decrease.
What do you think the fashion industry will look like in the future? And has the pandemic changed the way you look at fashion? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation over on our Instagram page, @keiseimgz.