BFC and CFDA call for fashion 'reset' post-Covid-19
In an unusual move, the British Fashion Council (BFC) and Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) have joined forces to call for a new approach and new ways of thinking once the coronavirus crisis has passed.
It’s a call that seems to be addressed to the upper end of the market, although it also mentions that change is being sought “at every level”.
And the call includes a plea for fashion to slow down, produce less and let creativity become a key focus again.
In a joint statement talking about “the fashion industry’s reset”, they said that the Covid-19 pandemic “is hitting the fashion industry from every angle and severely impacting all of the global fashion capitals. And while there is no immediate end in sight, there is an opportunity to rethink and reset the way in which we all work and show our collections”.
From the onset of the crisis, the two national bodies said they’ve “been in close communication, sharing feedback from their members and stakeholders”.
And they’re united in their “steadfast belief that the fashion system must change, and it must happen at every level”. They also said the changes “have been overdue for a while”.
So just what is the new thinking? For a start, they believe that there’s a need for “brands, designers and retailers, who are used to fashion’s fast, unforgiving pace, to slow down. For a long time, there have been too many deliveries and too much merchandise generated. With existing inventory stacking up, designers and retailers must also look at the collections cycle and be very strategic about their products and how and when they intend to sell them”.
They also see there being “a clear disconnect from when things arrive in-store to when the customer actually needs them” so “the delivery cadence should shift closer to the season for which it is intended”.
They’re “strongly recommending” designers focus on no more than two main collections a year”, providing “our talents with the time they need to reconnect to the creativity and craft that makes our field so unique in the first place. A slower pace also offers an opportunity to reduce the stress levels of designers and their teams, which in turn will have a positive effect on the overall wellbeing of the industry”.
Does that mean the end of pre-collections? Not necessarily. The two groups said they understand the need for them “and the need to fulfil the delivery windows of the current pre-collections”. But they’re recommending “that these return to their original intended purpose, which was to offer the consumer beautiful clothes that carry the ethos of the individual brands but are not necessarily sufficiently fashion forward to warrant a show”.
Pre-collections have become major events in recent years for key labels such as Gucci, Chanel and Dior, putting extra pressure on other brands. But the BFC and CFDA are recommending that “when we are able to hold in-person events and showings, we would recommend that these presentations return to the showrooms”.
Another recommendation is, once things are back to some sort of normality, “that brands attempt to show during the regular fashion calendar and in one of the global fashion capitals in order to avoid the strain on buyers and journalists travelling constantly. This too has placed tremendous stress on the industry and significantly increased each individual’s carbon footprint”.
And mention of carbon footprints clearly brings the two bodies round to sustainability. They said that “through the creation of less product, with higher levels of creativity and quality, products will be valued and their shelf life will increase. The focus on creativity and quality of products, reduction in travel and focus on sustainability (something we encourage of the entire industry) will increase the consumer’s respect and ultimately their greater enjoyment in the products that we create”.
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