Second Group of Industry Leaders Call for 'Rewiring' of the Fashion Industry

Facilitated by Business of Fashion, this call follows on the heels of Tuesday's open letter and proposes changes to runway shows, the fashion calendar and discounting.
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On Thursday, a group of fashion professionals hailing from brands like Gabriela Hearst, Phillip Lim, Proenza Schouler and Rodarte released a plan to "rewire fashion" that includes an overhaul of the fashion calendar, a reimagination of fashion shows and an alternative approach to discounting.

The plan, which was "facilitated by" Business of Fashion and published to an independent microsite called rewiringfashion.org, followed on the heels of an open letter to the industry fronted by Dries Van Noten and Lane Crawford executive Andrew Keith. The open letter featured more signatories, but the Rewiring Fashion plan went into more depth than did its predecessor.

Both initiatives lead with a plan to reset the fashion calendar so that collections are displayed in a more seasonally-appropriate way, with fall/winter clothing showing in cooler months and spring/summer clothing showing in warmer ones. Rewiring Fashion goes so far as to lay out an entire calendar for the year, helping designers and executives visualize when collections would be created, shown publicly and bought.

But the new plan also touched on things that weren't mentioned in the open letter published on Tuesday. It also calls for the industry to reimagine fashion shows, based on the fact that they're still operating the way they have been since they were created for press and buyers, despite the fact that they've become much more public-facing events.

"What if we repositioned fashion shows as events primarily designed to engage customers, creating awareness and desire for collections just before deliveries arrive in stores [?]" the Rewiring Fashion letter asked.

It also made a proposal to "break fashion's addiction to discounting" by pushing back end-of-season markdowns and fully canceling mid-season sales. Perhaps even more dramatically, the plan calls for brands to abstain from discounting on days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Singles Day.

Launching with 61 signatories on Thursday, it's hard to say whether or not the Rewiring Fashion proposal will be able to gain as much traction as the open letter published two days prior (which currently has a couple hundred signatures). But what they both signify is that many in the industry are hungry for change – change that's unlikely to come without the backing of fashion's biggest luxury players, like Kering and LVMH. Only time will tell if the luxury conglomerates will put their weight behind the proposed overhauls.

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