If you’re immersed in the world of fashion – or if you’re subscribed to my newsletter *nudge nudge* –, you might have heard about Gucci going seasonless.
But what does this mean exactly? And why does it matter in the conversation about sustainable fashion?
Okay, let’s start with the basics. Gucci is owned by Kering, the fashion conglomerate that also owns YSL, Bottega, Balenciaga, McQueen,…many of the major players in fashion.
And actually I want to take a minute to applaud Kering for their work towards sustainability. Since 2012 they’re been making great efforts to reduce their impact on the environment, and make fashion a more ethical business in general. They know the industry and the market better than anyone, they have the influence, and they can make a change. So kudos.
Now, back to our topic.
So Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director, has announced that Gucci is going seasonless, meaning that they’ll ditch all the extra seasons and that they’ll go back to two shows per year
So this decision will slow down the rhythm of the fashion world. Because in case you didn’t know, the fashion world is hectic as hell.
How do fashion seasons work?
Fashion lives in the future.
In the fashion weeks that take place during September and October, while the rest of mortals are starting to take their trenches and coats out of the closet, the industry makes decisions in the fashion capitals about the mules we will wear in spring and the kaftans for the beach. And even before we have time to buy them, they will be back in London and Paris to choose our next trench and our next coat.
With this system, buyers have time to curate what they want and retail has time to analyse what customers like and they curate their collection according to necessary. Oh, and fast fashion has plenty of time to rip off the runway models.
Aside from this, in recent years we have the whole “see now, buy now” situation. Imagine: you go to a fashion show and that same week everything you saw on the runway is up for sale. Social media allows us to gain access to the show even when we’re not there physically, and it gives us the opportunity to form our o be in the happening. Inside of the show even when we aren’t there physically. The moment models hit the runway, every potential customer around the world has made up their mind, they know what they want and they want it now.
In the world we live in, this is the obvious business strategy. Quick results, high turnover, and little to no time for the consumer to think twice.
In this case, retail has very little time to produce and distribute a whole collection. Think about all the steps that happen before a collection arrives to the store: design, supply of materials, manufacture of the garments, distribution,… And all in only a few days.
In the case of fast fashion brands “finding inspiration” from the runway, just imagine the pressure everyone is under when you ask them that you want a rip off of that runway McQuinn skirt in no time. Two weeks tops. This demand gives a few days to sketch a design, find the materials, manufacture, and ship to your closest fast fashion store.
There’s something here that screams unsustainable, don’t you think? There’s a lot of work, a lot of waste, and a lot of mindless consumption.
Why do we need to ditch the fashion show calendar to guarantee sustainability in fashion?
Currently, high fashion brands have at least four collections a year. The staples are two: spring/summer and fall/winter. And then we have a few additional ones, such as cruise, pre-fall, prêt-à-porter, bridal, couture. It really changes from brand to brand.
And as we saw earlier, the fashion calendar does nothing but accelerating. Every time there are more shows, and they’re expected to deliver faster.
Fashion in times of a pandemic
So Gucci going back to two seasons a year might be partly in response to the pandemic – even though they’ve also talked about the fast-paced-impossible-to-keep-up-with calendar.
At the beginning of the pandemic, fashion editors were asking whether fashion should skip one season now that fashion shows and fashion weeks are on hold, or being celebrated virtually, like the LFW.
Now the conversation is about whether these changes should be permanent and if so, how to restructure fashion seasons.
It’s a ballsy move and I’m here for it
While more conservative fashion houses like Chanel have stated that they’ll stick to their six shows a year, I’m happy that others are stepping up and demanding what’s best for the industry, the workers and the environment.
It’s time to ask ourselves a few uncomfortable questions. Can we really condone these shows in virus-free times? While – quoting Greta – our house is on fire?
We can’t condone this vanity, this waste.
Stepping down to two collections a year and reducing the number of shows looks like the right first move to me.
If other brands follow Gucci’s example, the two seasons will be ditched (probs Resort and Pre-Fall, these weird “hybrid collections”). The whole commercial side of the industry will need to be restructured – let’s not forget that we’re talking about a business and trade shows.
And let’s talk about fashion shows
If you’ve been here for a minute, you know I love following fashion shows, the streetstyle and the backstage. And I also love reading about the preparation of each collection, and everything and everyone behind them. So I don’t want fashion shows to be phased out.
But fashion needs to slow down. For now, it seems that shows will have to be held online, but after this is all over I’m okay with having fewer shows if it means that the creative quality behind them will increase. In this sense, I belive this change can be very beneficial for the industry, for the buyers, the suppliers, and the consumers.
Creatives don’t need to be forced to work at the speed of light. Suppliers don’t need to be drowning in impossible demands every two months. Couturiers and designers can work without impossible time constraints.
Fashion can rest. At the end of the day, shouldn’t creativity have some breathing room? Some space to be free?
We just need to chose fashion, planet and ethics over profit.