An open letter published online on Tuesday, May 12 — and signed by a host of influential designers, retail executives and CEOs from across the globe — is calling on the fashion industry to make some big, consequential changes to its current calendar.
Dries Van Noten — who, with Lane Crawford executive Andrew Keith, organized the unofficial brainstorms that would lead to this statement — 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."
Current delays on Fall 2020 deliveries due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic made clear to the Belgian designer and to many of his colleagues that the way things had always been done simply wasn't going to cut it anymore. He told the Times, for example: If his autumnal collection arrives in stores in September versus July, would the prices be slashed just two months later in November, as they would be under more typical circumstances?
Titled Open Letter to the Fashion Industry, it begins: "Recently a group of us from across the global fashion industry, from CEOs to buyers and creative directors, came together in a series of conversations with a shared vision; to discuss ways in which our business needs to transform. We agreed that the current environment although challenging, presents an opportunity for a fundamental and welcome change that will simplify our businesses, making them more environmentally and socially sustainable and ultimately align them more closely with customers' needs."
The letter proposes moving the fall collections to deliver from August through January and the spring collections to deliver from February through July, to align with the actual seasons they correspond to. (As it currently stands, autumnal lines start delivering around July, spring lines around January.) Discounting would only happen at the very end of each period — so, fall clothes would go on sale in January (versus November) and spring clothes would go on sale in July (versus May). It also calls to "increase sustainability throughout the supply chain and sales calendar" by reducing unnecessary product, waste of fabric inventory and travel; plus, a review of how brands put on fashion shows.
Current signatories include Acne Studios CEO Mattias Magnusson, Joseph Altuzarra (and the CEO of his namesake label, Shira Sue Carmi), Bergdorf Goodman's Linda Fargo, Erdem Moralioglu, Gabriela Hearst, Pete Nordstrom, PR Consulting's Pierre Rougier, Tory Burch, Dries Van Noten president Matteo De Rosa and Van Noten himself, among many others. (You can find the full list here.)
"Working together, we hope these steps will allow our industry to become more responsible for our impact on our customers, on the planet and on the fashion community, and bring back the magic and creativity that has made fashion such an important part of our world," it reads, in closing.
You can read the full letter here.