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THE WORLD OF POST-COVID 19 FASHION:
WORDS TO EXPERTS

L’Amour by Jacquemus

THE VOICES OF FASHION ARE SPEAKING OUT WITH AN EFFECTIVE CALL-TO-ACTION REDESIGNING THE FASHION CALENDAR AND ASKING FOR A SLOWDOWN OF THE OVERALL INDUSTRY.

Words By Alessandra di Perna

As society increasingly perceives and becomes aware about our environment, it needs to make changes to adapt to the uncertainty and complexity of it. For it to happen in a collective effort , leaders in the fashion sector stand out as guidance and inspiration, leading the change through a new model of management which may be defined as adaptive governance. This new form of leadership entails listening, working and collaborating with external institutions and stakeholders to increase efficiency with a direct designer-consumer approach, reducing wastes without renouncing to the glance of glamour.

Photography & Pieces by Artknit Studios

The Numbers

Navigating in an open sea at a high speed, the fashion industry was everything but ready for a harsh braking as the one it has faced at the beginning of 2020. As reported in The State of Fashion 2020’s executive survey, the crucial words are sustainability, digitization and innovation. Despite the great emphasis and stress put onto these issues, heavy efforts are needed in order to achieve effective improvements in terms of sustainability. The fashion sector’s practices, mainly in production processes, release six percent of the global gas emission and more than sixteen million tons of fabrics leftovers are burned down per year.

In order to meet its objectives, the industry must slow down. But is it really possible to implement such a change when facing a recession? Designers have started to expose themselves in the first place as the pioneers of a change that the extreme pandemic situation has fortunately sped up.

The Voices

Leading these voices, Giorgio Armani wrote an open letter to Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) where he praises a slowdown and realignment of the industry. What he puts emphasis on and accuses the most is the approach of the high-end and luxury sector which, in order to have an increase in sales, has resembled the processes of fast fashion, according to which a piece from production to “death” lives on the shelves for an average of three weeks.

Mr. Armani voices all his discomfort when he ascertains that these practices not only are damaging on an environmental level but also deteriorate the value of an actual designer piece and are not in line with Armani’s personal – subsequently distinctive sign of the brand – concept of limitless elegance.

“I don’t want to work in this way, it’s immoral”, Giorgio Armani.

The Covid-19 pandemic has unexpectedly reorganized individuals’ priorities and for Mr. Armani is the chance to cut all the superfluous and bring back authenticity, not only in terms of vapid and gross exhibitions, but also in terms of costs. Yet this world seems to merely consider expenses, even when a fifteen minutes fashion show costs an average of six hundred thousand dollars and much more in terms of environment, travels and extra requirements in production.

Alessandro Michele, creative director at Gucci, has shared on his official Instagram page his personal feelings and opinions about the harmfulness provoked by the fashion industry collected in his diary ‘Notes from the Silence’ – whose name derives from the quarantine situation which gave the designer enough time to reflect. His words are straightforward and sharp.

“Our reckless actions have burned the house we live in… We usurped nature, we dominated and wounded it. Now that the devastation caught us unprepared, we have to think about what we would not want to be the same as it was.”

A hymn to Mother Nature, the main muse at Gucci’s house for the latest collection. Michele feels the need to rebuild his bond with Her, to find again what was lost for the sake of speed. Despite being a personal diary, this series represents a real call to action. “I will abandon the worn-out ritual of seasonalities and shows to regain a new cadence..”.

The Director has announced that Gucci will hold shows twice a year and irregularly, irrespectively of the usual fashion calendar which provides brands to schedule a minimum of five seasonal shows per year – namely spring-summer, fall-winter, pre-fall, cruise and resort. The decision was further confirmed through a virtual press conference where Michele clearly stated that these changes are immediately needed and applicable, announcing the cancellation of the fashion show usually held by the giant during Milan Fashion Week.

@filippa_k

@filippa_k

A similar approach is the one taken by the fashion giant Yves Saint Laurent. The Haute Couture maison has announced that it will not take part to any fashion week event until year-end amid the pandemic situation. Anthony Vaccarello, creative head at the maison, reclaimed back the “ownership of its calendar”, following its own path and “rhythm”, to recalibrate and legitimate the actual value of time and “connecting with people globally by getting closer to them in their own space and lives”.

Fashion giants such as Dries Van Noten, the CEO of Lane Crawford and Altuzarra have also blended their forces to launch an appeal through Zoom for a See-Now Buy Now approach towards fashion collections that would allow customers to visualize, buy and wear pieces immediately. The petition follows the path launched by Giorgio Armani and is now gaining support also by fast fashion companies such as H&M and the Inditex Group. The speech impact has been affirmatively perceived and a thing is for sure, unity makes strength. Therefore, the only issue at the moment remains the actual implementation of this program as it is supply-driven, and customers’ demand needs to adapt to it.

On the other side, there are many companies who have directly started making a physical impact and might be the leader in such scenario. A spot has to be given to the Danish brand Underprotection, which designs lingerie, loungewear and swimwear and ensures that the production processes, from raw material collection to packages and logistics are certified and sustainable and that does not prevent the brand from being up-to-date with the major trends.

One thing is for sure, the fashion industry still has a long road ahead to achieve more sustainable goals. To reach the finish line efforts from both customer and suppliers are necessary as it is not a zero sum game, rather a win-win situation, but the declarations by designers are giving attention to the topic seem to be the promise of a new, more conscious, fashion era.

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