The fashion industry ground to halt last March in line with the COVID-19 outbreak, similar to the cease of industry during World War II in 1939. Thousands of stores worldwide shut their doors, consumers no longer secure with their disposable income and factories such as Prada and Brandon Maxwell turned to producing PPE over designer garments. With such a drastic turn of events, it gave companies and consumers alike time to reconsider the industry as a whole and their values.
Sustainable fashion has been on the tip of many tongues over the past few years and the fire has only spread more quickly now. Calls for companies to produce less and less often; pleas to brands to come away from over producing by 30-40% rather than running out of stock; a reflection of brands such as Burberry who in 2017 burnt over $28.6 million in bags, clothes ad perfume rather than have it sold for a lower sale price. When shamed for such actions, they halted the process, but one can only imagine how many others work in similar ways, only waiting to be caught.
With mass over-production, brands no longer have seasonal sales, but consistent high percentage sales such as 70% all year round. As a result, consumers are mentally more inclined to purchase more or ‘the sale price’, increasing unnecessary spending. Giorgio Armani had no problem calling out industry peers, so why shouldn’t we?
Too many holes were found during the pandemic. Garment workers were left unpaid and unsupported for unsold stock. While yes, the world’s environmental conditions improved, its reasoning left a bitter taste. Carbon emissions from factories and shipping cut back while millions of litres of dye were held back from polluting the waterways. How come it took a global pandemic to highlight this?
Will seasonal trends become a thing of the past? Should repeat stock remain on the shelves? These are just a few of the questions fashion forecasters are coming to ponder. Change comes from impact, who will change first is the question. Fashion weeks are already separating the new from the old as brands such as Saint Laurent pull out of Paris Fashion Week. Brands no longer wish to send their high-profile guests to luxury locations to showcase brands, such as Prada foregoing their Resort 2021 show in Japan.
‘We went too far’, the chilling words of Gucci creative director Alessandro Michelle, as he referred to the fashion brand’s concentrated schedule of eight collections per year, rather than the traditional ‘SS/AW’.
‘At the end of the day, we were out of breath’, Michelle let his thoughts flow in a 1,200-word typewritten note posted on Instagram. In short, multi-billion-dollar brand Gucci says ‘Ciao’ to the over-condensed show schedule.
Facts are evident. Why is that when you go to buy a bikini in July, the best ones have been sold out since May, the dead stock left on sale and coats are on the rail next to you. The calendars are out of sync. Change is coming, that is for sure. Already big names such as Tony Burch and Chloé announced reduced collections and stock for the future.
While the actions of these luxury brands with expensive price tags may not interest the eye of a student consumer, it ought to. You may not realise it but what luxury does the high street follow. Trends are not such for styles. I mean, did we not learn anything from Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada on the evolution of Cerulean sweaters?