A group of independent designers, executives and retailers from around the world has shared a proposal for the global fashion industry to rethink how the industry could and should work. The Covid-19 crisis has made the need for change within fashion more urgent than ever whilst also providing a powerful opening for dialogue and a rewiring of the system around a fresh set of principles.
“Among the practical issues we face are (1) a fashion calendar that is out of sync with the end customer, unsustainable for industry professionals and damaging for sales; (2) a fashion show format that is outmoded; and (3) an addiction to discounts that trains shoppers to expect perennial markdowns, eroding profitability and brand equity for everyone along the value chain,” reads the open statement.
The problems surrounding the current fashion calendar, according to the group of creatives, is that fashion shows are being staged too far ahead of product deliveries, some brands are quick to copy original designs and, by doing so, they can get them to market in cheaper, disposable fast fashion. Furthermore, delivery dates are out of sync with real-world seasons, full-price selling periods are too short due to rampant discounting and buyers and press expend too much time, money and energy travelling.
Amongst the proposed solutions, the open letter explains the need to combine men’s and women’s fashion weeks in order to enable longer full-price sell-through periods, minimise travel requirements and de-gender fashion week. Fashion shows, collection deliveries and real-world seasons should be aligned so that shows can take place just before weather-appropriate collections hit stores. Lastly, next season buying periods should be synchronised with current season presentations to cut back on travel.
“The format of fashion shows has not changed in 50 years and yet these previously closed industry events for press, buyers and other insiders now welcome celebrities and influencers, and they are captured and shared online for everyone to see. Fashion shows are not optimised for this new instant, digital world where fashion imagery travels at lightning speed, limiting the return on the customer desire created by our investments in fashion shows,” continues the proposal.
“What if we repositioned fashion shows as events primarily designed to engage customers, creating awareness and desire for collections just before deliveries arrive in stores. Agreed that there should be no rules — imposed by convention or fashion councils — regarding the format of shows, nor any expectations that every brand should show every season [and] freed designers to reimagine their fashion presentations to best engage their customers and the media titles they follow.”
Lastly, the group of creatives explains that fashion retailers must break their addiction to discounting, pushing back end-of-season markdown periods and putting a stop to broad mid-season sales. If retailers avoided extreme discounting for Spring/Summer 2020, this would result in long-term brand equity and profitability.
“This statement captures our collective thinking about the actions we must take to preserve the beauty, creativity, and craft of our industry while building solid, sustainable businesses that can survive the current storm — and beyond. This is only the first step. We hope to build upon and refine this proposal as we continue to engage with other industry leaders and address other industry challenges,” the statement concludes.