Alessandro Michele, the creative director of Gucci, held a video news conference in May from his studio in Rome to announce that the brand cut the number of fashion shows from five to two per year. "We need new oxygen to allow this complex system to be reborn," he said about his decision to reduce the show schedule and eliminate traditional categories of men's versus women's wear, as well as the conventional seasonality of clothes.
The news comes as COVID-19 pandemic has put a regular fashion calendar to a halt. Typically, there's a minimum of two presentations at Fashion Weeks in September and February as well as separate menswear, resort, and pre-fall collections. The brands like Saint Laurent and Marc Jacobs cancelled their 2020 September shows. For most brands, their normal way of working has been severely affected, with the stores closed and supply chains disrupted. But Gucci is the only brand to make a permanent change in the number of shows per year.
Prompted by the virus, the GUCCI's announcement is a step in the new direction for the fashion industry (including fast fashion) that wants to respond to the evolved consumer habits and serious environmental concerns. One of the main criticisms from the public is the disproportionately high number of clothes produced. Majority of the unsold clothes will either end up in landfills and pollute the environment or are sold to the poorer countries, which damages their local fashion businesses.
"This crisis represents a fundamental test for us all. It's a test, because there is sorrow, exertion, and danger," Michele wrote in a series of posts on Instagram that teased the announcement before the news conference. "But also because there is an evaluation and a judgment. Through sorrow we can look at our recent past with a critical eye. At our list of debts, misunderstandings, false notes, mistakes. At our missteps and recklessness. At the thunderous absence of thoughts we dared not express."
One other notable initiative in this regard is an open letter entitled "Rewiring Fashion" that calls to reset the fashion calendar and reimagine the fashion shows. Facilitated by the Business of Fashion, it was signed by over 2000 independent designers, executives and retailers from around the world. The notable signatories are Selfridges, AMI, Isabel Marant and many more. "We find ourselves facing a fashion system that is less and less conducive to genuine creativity and ultimately serves the interests of nobody: not designers, not retailers, not customers — and not even our planet. It's time to slow down and rediscover the storytelling and magic of fashion", the letter reads.
The letter precisely pinned down 4 Problems that the current fashion cycle is facing, and we encourage you to read it. Apart from the problems of the carbon footprint created because of the unnecessary travelling; gendered shows; the outdated 6 months time gap from runway shows to be able to buy the collection at the stores. One of the issues definitely resonates with the creatives, "Some brands quickly copy our designs, getting them to market in cheaper, disposable fast fashion." Suppose the current fashion cycle does not change. The original design will always lose the "first" spot to the copycat as fast fashion brands can copy a design and put it on the production line in a matter of days.
Obviously, bringing the magic of fashion back to people is a collective effort, and some creative entrepreneurs are already doing something about it. In April 2019, UK-based Eshita Kabra launched her start-up "By Rotation". The idea behind the company is to create a platform where people can rent designers clothes, sprucing up any individual's wardrobe and reducing the waste from the items which are sometimes only worn once. "Through joining us, not only are you able to access designer fashion at a fraction of retail price, but you are also transforming your fashion consumption habits by sharing more," she writes. Let's hope this change is here to stay, and we will see more businesses trying new approaches to bring positive changes to the fashion landscape.