Is this the end of fashion as we know it? – The Australian Financial Review

Although the Australian fashion calendar is the reverse of the northern hemisphere, it essentially means the delivery of collections would align more closely with the weather seasons. That is, the novel idea of being able to buy a winter coat in winter, or thereabouts.

The relentless pace of fashion seasons, with designers expected to release up to six collections a year including such designations as “pre-fall” and “cruise”, was a big topic of discussion among fashion types even before the pandemic brought much of the industry to a halt. As Van Noten told The New York Times: “When you try to explain how fashion works to people not in fashion, it’s impossible. Nobody can understand it.”

A model wears Mary Katrantzou at last year’s London Fashion Week … designers have banded together to argue that fashion needs to slow down.  AP

In April, Saint Laurent announced it would not take part in the prescribed catwalk season. Giorgio Armani has announced that his January Armani Privé runway collection will be “seasonless” and recently wrote an opinion piece for fashion industry bible Women’s Wear Daily questioning how and why fashion became so fast, and making an argument for it to slow down.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America and the British Fashion Council also penned letters, urging the industry to reconsider the pace of the calendar and inventory deliveries, among other issues.

Anine Bing in her studio: “Our consumers respond really well to the seasonless approach.” 

Armani’s opinions have captured the mood and sentiment of an industry that has, like so many others, had time to rethink its priorities and purpose. “To be honest with you, I like the idea of having a slower pace in terms of seasonality – of having in the windows cashmere in winter and swimwear in summer,” Donatella Versace told WWD.

Some fashion brands have already opted out of the routine. Kit Willow, the designer behind Australian sustainable fashion brand KITX, doesn’t do traditional seasonal collections. “The pace of fashion deliveries is unsustainable, and seasonal drops outside of season is nonsensical,” she says.

“The discounting cycle is getting tighter … when [the] product is right, let it sell through in its time, rather than discounting everything every season and requiring the need to develop new, make new, overproduce and over-discount in tighter time frames.”

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Others have found success with a direct-to-consumer, “see now, buy now” approach such as fashion model-turned-designer Anine Bing. Bing, whose eponymous label has boutiques around the world, including Sydney, launches new pieces every week. She says the tight release of new products means the brand does not have surplus inventory.

“Our consumers respond really well to the seasonless approach … for example, the Charlie boots were one of our first styles when I launched the brand back in 2012 and they are still one of our best-selling styles today,” she says.

Bridget Veals, general manager of womenswear at David Jones, and Chris Wilson, the retailer’s general manager of menswear and children’s wear, agree that the pandemic has sparked many interesting conversations within the fashion and retail industry. Both believe the fashion industry won’t go back to what it was, but that may be a good thing.

David Jones’ Bridget Veals predicts a realignment of the seasons in stores. Steven Siewert

“It definitely won’t be the same as what it was,” says Wilson. “I think menswear is always a little bit different because it’s probably not as fast. But you’re definitely already seeing brands … all setting up digitally.”

He adds that Australia is already well versed in seasonless fashion, given its generally temperate climate.

Veals says that while everything is still uncertain, she believes there will be a realignment of the seasons in stores.

The joyous stamp designs reflect Katrantzou’s optimism for a future when people can take holidays again. 

“I would say that the seasons [will be] pushed out by about two months for us,” she says. “So where we would have started the season in July talking about this summer, we’ll probably move to talking about it in September … it’s too early to say any specifics, but we’ll all shift.”

As for Katrantzou, she remains optimistic about the future – something reflected in her designs and in the campaign for Mary Mare. Conceived in isolation by her team, it features bright “postage stamps” of places where people might have enjoyed a holiday, or would like to one day.

“I’m hopeful that even if people’s holidays this year are postponed … that it’s still something that would lift your mood and put a smile on your face,” she says. “There will be a day where we look at this as a shift in a lot of our mentalities … it’s not that I am delusional, but I think it’s food for the soul in that way.”

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