Thursday, December 1, 2022

Why did we need a pandemic to change the fashion industry?

The former creative director of Lanvin, Alber Elbaz, said, "Today designers are good but, maybe the speed and the system trouble them a little today more than ever."

People in the world of fashion have been pushing for change and how the industry has worked for years. It starts with the designers down to myself. We have been saying, why do there have to be so many collections, where is sustainability, and why is no one listening?

Why did the fashion industry, including the CFDA and BFC, only decide recently to make a change? And even then, it took a global pandemic killing thousands of people for them to realize something had to give. When it comes down to it, it's all about money and the commercialization of the industry. Even though a designer may send an amazing collection down the runway, it means nothing if it isn't commercially viable. COVID-19 affected the entire fashion industry, starting from the top with designers, then trickling down to retail stores. This pandemic has overwhelmed 100% of the people involved in the industry, with many of them turning to unemployment.

The only bright light to come out of COVID-19 was that it did force the CFDA and the BFC to decide there needs to be an extreme change in the structure of how the fashion world would go forward.

"Things have got to change. We've got to slow down. We can do this twice a year. I would like to say something creatively that I can do it twice a year. The idea of being forced to create something and to tell a story constantly when it has no meaning and has no soul; it has no authenticity or credibility; it just seems so vacant. And the amount of product that's produced goes nowhere but to landfills, this greed of all this stuff that goes with it."
- Marc Jacobs, interview with Business of Fashion:

On May 20th, 2020, the CFDA posted an article about the new ways and practices that the industry will be established from here on out. Here are some summarized highlights of what we can look forward to for the future of fashion.

• They, meaning the CFDA and the BFC, believe that the fashion system must change, which has been overdue. Corvid-19 has pushed them to rethink the process and how the industry functions.

• Slowing down is one of the ways the industry has to change instead of there being a constant fast pace of fashion. Too much merchandise has been generated over previous years; this is where both retailers and designers need to be more selective of the products they choose.

• Delivering goods in-store should shift closer to the season for which it is intended.

• They are strongly recommending that designers need to focus on only two main collections in a year. This new focus will allow designers to reconnect to the creativity and craft that makes fashion so unique. Plus, at a slower pace, it will give designers a reduction in the levels of their stress levels, which will have an overall positive effect on the industry.

• Fashion has become very commercialized so, with the slower pace designers will return to original was of designing. They can offer beautiful clothes without the need for a runway show. Presentations in showrooms would be sufficient.

• Once live fashion shows begin again, they believe that designers should show during the regular fashion calendar. But, in only one fashion capital, there will be less stress on the buyers and press. This will help in reducing the carbon footprint.

• Sustainability has been a constant discussion in the entire industry for quite a few years. So the creation of fewer products will increase the creativity and quality of the designs made, which will increase the consumer's respect, and ultimately they will enjoy the products more.

• In the meantime, the fashion councils will be creating fashion calendars and other formats that will highlight and help to organize the future of the fashion industry.

But it's not just the designing, manufacturing, and delivery of goods that should be looked at the establish. The councils what to preach about sustainability, but they should also look at the waste that goes into fashion week, which is astounding. With every show, an attendee gets a handout that informs you of the designer's background along with a description of each design going down the runway. Then there are the coveted gift bags, which lead to more paper consumption, and the issues of Front Row and WWD are handed out daily through the week. So much paper is being used; it makes you laugh that the fashion industry is being "sustainable."

But it's just not about sustainability either. There are smaller designers out there who deserve a chance to show their talent, but there is no real support for them, especially in the US. These designers are usually the ones who are the most innovative and creative and design with a purpose.

I have met with designers in Australia who have said if thery had to follow the fashion calendar of other major fashion cities, they would be out of business. Therefore in their industry, they make two collections a year, Spring/Summer and Resort, and it works very well for them. So if they can do it, why can't the rest of the fashion capitals and designers cut back to two seasons a year?

Not only does the fashion industry need to change, but the consumers do as well. I know fast fashion is popular with the younger to mid-age generation, but they have no idea that they are part of the problem. Do you know where that $6.99 t-shirt ends up after you are through with it? It ends up in a landfill.

We need to educate consumers that buying less is more. And yes you may have to spend a little more money, but in the long run, you are keeping your clothes longer and helping the environment at the same time. Do you need a new wardrobe for every season? It's too much.

I know this is a start, but it will take some retraining on both the designer and the consumer to make it work. The fashion industry has brainwashed consumers into thinking they need more. You can see this at New York Fashion Week alone as I have talked with many attendees that bring outfit changes for every show they attend. It's just wasteful.

The change in the industry should have happened sooner. But now at least they have noticed and realized that it's too much. Hopefully, with these new guidelines, it will allow the smaller designers, some more talented than known designers who have "made It," to experience what it feels like to "make it."

I feel that these difficult times will bring new ideas and innovation to the forefront of an industry that, unfortunately, is stuck in the past. But it's not going to be easy. Everyone, from designers to consumers, will need to learn and change the merry-go-round of fashion that we are riding.

Other featured designer interviews

[td_block_3 limit=”6″ sort=”random_posts” category_id=”28″]