Rewiring Fashion

The discussions about the needed changes in the fashion industry have started a long time ago. Sustainability goals, eco-fashion, slow fashion, conscious shopping, greenwashing – customers seem to be aware of those terms by 2020.
Another thing is how reality meets the challenge. The industry shift towards conscious consumerism is a way too slow and the transparency of the fashion companies is not as clear as it is expected to be under sustainability compliance.
The global business crises reasoned by Covid-19 pushed forward the minds of global industry players to rethink the whole process. And here is a group of the independent designers, executives and retailers from around the world came up with the issues to be changed urgently:

  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;
  3. an addiction to discounts that train shoppers to expect perennial markdowns, eroding profitability and brand equity for everyone along the value chain.

According to these problems, the solution is:
– to reduce the number of shows and events per season;
– to expand the full-price sales and to stop in-season discounting;
– to synchronize next season buying periods with current season presentations to cut back on travel;
-the format of shows should not be restricted by any expectations that every brand should expose every season.

Does the proposal of the reset of current fashion calendar mean that we will never witness the fashion shows, Black Fridays, Cyber Mondays and other discount events? Will it shift the industry towards long-term profitability and sustainability? Will it stop overproduction and the problem of stocking?
The list of protagonists who joined this proposal is imposing. Thou, there is no brand from any conglomerate like LVMH or Kering, what, probably, means that the huge players will try to cover up the crises losses first. But let’s see and hope for the best.

The full proposal is available here:

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We were getting calls. I’m sure everyone was, writes BoF’s Tim Blanks. The coronavirus had hit fashion hard. There was a bush telegraph of nervous designers looking for any kind of reassurance against a growing tide of bad news. It was obvious that independent designers were going to be hit hardest. For those on a shoestring, it just got thinner. For those who were more established, querulous retailers and landlords were the challenge. Fashion has traditionally been an industry of secrets, but the virus made a nonsense of that. It was time for people to talk openly to each other. BoF facilitated a conversation, via Zoom, that brought dozens of independent designers and storeowners together. In bi-weekly digital gatherings over the past month – a whole patchwork of faces from all over the world – these designers and retailers hashed out a game plan for the future. In one way, it was purest logic. The fashion calendar – the showing, selling and shipping of clothes – divorced itself from common sense a long while ago. The rhythm of fashion’s seasons was surreally disconnected from the seasons as most of the world understood them. You’d go to buy a winter coat when the mercury dropped and all you’d find was bikinis. Irrational this was, but unquestioned, thanks in large part to the commercial might of American department stores whose tune the industry danced to. So, here were a few screens full of faces prepared to challenge the timetable, to create a new reality out of that old surreality, now turned to ashes by Covid-19. It hasn’t been easy. How could there be consensus with so many different wants and needs on the table? But, sure enough, a proposal on how to rewire the fashion calendar took shape. For me, says Blanks, the most important thing has been the communication. People who knew of each other but had never met are now talking across the globe. The future is collaboration not competition. That’s also how revolutions are made. Fashion needed one, and if it took a dreadful virus to create the conditions for change, that is surely just a measure of how great the need for revolution has been. Read the proposal at #rewiringfashion

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