‘We Know That Collectively We’re Stronger’—Fashion Unites to Plan a Better Future

The coronavirus pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis, but the work-from-home mandates and economic downturn they precipitated have also illuminated many of the weaknesses in the fashion system. Even before the crisis, people were not spending as much, and when they were willing to spend on luxury goods, they were being served coats in summertime, swimwear over the winter holidays, and markdowns on items when precisely those goods become most essential. The fashion calendar of seasonal deliveries and sales, devised half a century ago or more to reflect the needs of multi-brand retailers, is no longer functional in a world of instant gratification and the endless scroll of e-commerce.

But even with widespread awareness that the system is broken, fixing the industry remains a monumental task. Many have spoken out, but few have critically assessed exactly what needs to be done—until now. Today, an international group of designers, executives, retailers, and other industry figures published an open letter to the fashion industry advocating for a realignment of seasonal deliveries and sale periods, the production of fewer goods, and less travel for fashion weeks and retail buying appointments.

The letter is the result of an ongoing series of discussions spearheaded by Dries Van Noten. “I got an email from Dries three weeks to a month ago. He had put together a small group of people, and I think he wanted to have a conversation about what we were doing now and, more importantly, a conversation about the future,” Joseph Altuzarra, one of the group’s founding members tells Vogue. “We were really excited about participating in this kind of forum.”

Backstage at Dries Van Noten fall 2020Photographed by Corey Tenold
Backstage at Erdem fall 2020Photographed by Corey Tenold

The list of signatories to the published letter spans nations. The United States’s contingent includes: Altuzarra and his CEO Shira Sue Carmi, Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo, Gabriela Hearst, Jeffrey Kalinsky, Nordstrom’s Pete Nordstrom, PR Consulting’s Pierre Rougier and Sylvie Piquet, Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, Thom Browne’s Rodrigo Bazan, Tory Burch and her CEO and husband Pierre-Yves Roussel, and Totokaelo’s Chris Bossola. Internationally, the list is much longer, and includes the likes of Marine Serre, Craig Green, Mary Katrantzou, Andrew Keith of Lane Crawford, Hirofumi Kurino of United Arrows, and La Rinascente’s Vittorio Radice. “I think it makes a really big difference that it’s not just designers,” Altuzarra notes. “It’s designers and retailers coming together and having a very open conversation about the industry. I think that’s a very meaningful step.”

Erdem Moralioglu, who participated from London, tells Vogue, “Dries presented a clear opportunity to make a positive change, [and] I did not hesitate to join this forum in which I believe wholeheartedly. Moving our seasonality to a more responsible approach has long been overdue.”

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