Can a seasonless Gucci make the fashion industry more sustainable?
For years there have been conversations floating around about the relevance of traditional fashion seasons thanks to our increasingly digitised world. Until now, leading labels have produced spring/summer, autumn/winter, cruise and pre-fall collections to be shown at fashion weeks around the world, but as the fashion industry has globalised and the consumer has become more diverse, the fashion seasons that once aligned with European weather patterns have become obsolete.
For years there have been conversations floating around about the relevance of traditional fashion seasons thanks to our increasingly digitised world. Until now, leading labels have produced spring/summer, autumn/winter, cruise and pre-fall collections to be shown at fashion weeks around the world, but as the fashion industry has globalised and the consumer has become more diverse, the fashion seasons that once aligned with European weather patterns have become obsolete. If you’ve ever wondered why the heck bikinis are dropped in the middle of winter and coats are for sale in summer, this is why.
Add a global pandemic to the mix and the fashion calendar or years’ past has become as redundant as last season’s tiny bag trend. In response, luxury brand Gucci has announced they will no longer create collections to fall in line with the traditional fashion week calendar and instead show seasonless collections twice a year. On top of that, designer Dries Van Noten has called for a transformation of the fashion industry and Saint Laurent also announced they wouldn’t be attending Paris Fashion Week later in the year.
Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele said referring to the traditional seasons, “clothes should have a longer life than that which these words attribute to them.” He also wrote an impassioned diary entry on Instagram. “Above all, we understand we went way too far. Our reckless actions have burned the house we live in. We conceived of ourselves as separated from nature, we felt cunning and almighty”.
Given that you’re reading this on an ethical fashion platform, why on Earth should you even care about this change?
Well for one, luxury brands like Gucci lead the way for the fashion industry. Gucci reported a revenue of nearly $16bn in 2019 and in recent years has become one of the most progressive and influential brands in the industry. So when Gucci highlights the importance of a less wasteful, more sustainable fashion industry as Michele has done so colourfully and dramatically might we add, other brands will follow suit.
There’s also the carbon footprint that comes with several fashion weeks a year. According to ODRE, the travel costs of fashion weeks alone account for 241,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. That’s equivalent to the electricity used to power 42,000 homes for an entire year.
The environmental impact of these traditional seasons also includes a lot of waste at the end of each season. This leads to end-of-season discounting making clothes less desirable, and in some cases can lead to the incineration of unsold items. From 2013 to 2018, Burberry destroyed £90m of stock to prevent them being stolen or sold cheaply.
Demand = Supply
On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got fast fashion brands producing sometimes more than 52 collections a year. Although these are contrasting arms of the fashion industry, each is driven by consumer demand. If we demand new collections several times a year from luxury brands it’s no different to demanding new collections every week from fast fashion brands.
The solution is to use our voices to demand something different; a better, more sustainable industry. We have the power of social media to speak directly to the brands and tell them what we want and we have the power of our dollar to pay for the type of industry we want. This isn’t to say all the onus is on the consumer, but it is a reminder that we have the power to make a change.
Gucci has listened, so let’s hope more brands are taking note.
Image via Highsnobiety / Eva Al Desnudo