Updated: May 28, 2020
It's no secret that retail and fashion is taking a nosedive during this pandemic. The industry was among one of the most hard hit due to sudden store closures and inventory piling up, even with the help of Amazon. We've been quarantined for nearly 2 months, and for many fashion houses, that's two whole deliveries (collections) backlogged with lost revenue. They say this is a time for the industry as a whole to take pause and reassess how much is designed and made; to reassess if this "fast fashion" mode should be done away with. There is a proposal to reduce the amount of fashion shows, including combining mens and womens fashion weeks. This would greatly reduce the carbon footprint across the board, from travel to shuffling product, models, and sets across the globe, not to mention it's just so much stuff for people to see. And why? To push more things into people's shopping carts when no one is buying anything or going anywhere?
But this too shall pass. And when it does, I think people will want to treat themselves to something nice and new. Because that is what being alive means and that is what it takes to keep the engine of the economy going--spending money. When people spend it allows designers like myself to do what we love, make a living creating new things. If we slow that down, will the need for new design slow down with it?
I hope not, because I think there is another way.
We are indeed moving towards #sustainability because this pace has created massive waste and deep discounting. We've gotten so accustomed to discounting (black friday, singles day and Prime day deals bring in the most sales out of the year) that it makes full price hard to swallow. Brands have to take a hit on their markup, which inevitably moves down the chain of command and hurts the makers the most.
Less product is one solution. But the problem isn't just the quantity but the #quality of what's being made. If you've ever owned anything made over 30 years ago (a pencil sharpener, a coat, a couch) you'll know that materials and construction were made to last so much longer than what's being produced nowadays. Having too much product reduces the quality of goods, since they're meant to be thrown away.
Top 5 Questions
If you wish to keep buying new things, ask yourself:
Will I keep this for a few years?
Do I know where this product was made?
Do I feel good supporting this business?
Is it made from sustainable materials (organic/recycled/regenerative)?
When I'm done with this, can it be recycled?
If you're able to answer yes, then rest assured your purchase is a good investment not only for your wallet but for the fashion industry as a whole. Designers and creators can keep making product because that is what we love doing. So while I think the industry is in need of a reboot, there are more ways than just consuming less. #ConsumeConsciously and think about closed-loop design. New technologies (like Evrnu and Circular Systems) can turn old clothes into new fibers, which can then be made into new clothes. When the clothes are discarded, it is again recycled, and it goes on and on.
By supporting businesses that are doing great things for the #FutureOfFashion, you are letting your dollars move the needle for real change. When demand for products of high quality, fair labor, and closed-loop practices increase, this is when fashion will take a turn for the better.