Fashion ‘reset’ request could become a reality

Written by Adam Bryce

The fashion people have spoken and the cries, finally, haven’t fallen on deaf ears.

Last week, we shared our opinion on a Dries Van Noten-led co-operative’s open letter to the industry to make changes to its unethical system. Today, the British Fashion Council (BFC) and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) have united in the fight for change.

The two highly influential organisations issued a joint message to their respective members entitled ‘The Fashion Industry’s Reset’ with a bold opening statement, “We are united in our steadfast belief that the fashion system must change, and it must happen at every level.”

And, while it may seem difficult to envisage changes at every level across a global industry, the need has never been as obvious as it is right now. On the same day that the letter was issued, Victoria’s Secret announced the closure of 250 stores, followed by Neiman Marcus and Barneys declaring bankruptcy, Jeffrey and Opening Ceremony stores closing across the US with many more high-profile closures on the rise. Covid-19 has brought the issues at the heart of the industry to the forefront and it’s time to assert drastic change.

The letter goes on… “For a long time, there have been too many deliveries and too much merchandise generated. With existing inventory stacking up, designers and retailers must also look at the collections cycle and be very strategic about their products and how and when they intend to sell them.” That means “focus[ing] on no more than two main collections a year” and shifting the delivery cadence of merchandise “closer to the season for which it is intended.”

It seems simple but greed has led the industry to a point of product over-saturation which can no longer be sustained by brands or retailers. In making these changes, we’ll see an industry that will deliver more-creative and better-quality products which will, in turn, create a more ethical and sustainable industry. But will also rely on selling clothes on merit to consumers who will see value in their investment — a model which will help brands and retailers see more loyal customers and a longer lifespan.

The New Zealand fashion industry has been at the forefront of creating change in the way that clothing is manufactured and, as an industry, we’ve been proactive in making changes towards a better future. However, for our brands to succeed financially, we need to see an increase in success and sales globally. The ‘reset’ movement works in our favour and, if the industry’s schedule and philosophy changes tack, we could see New Zealand fashion reach new heights.

It finally feels as though the majority of the global industry sees the need for change and while Kerning and LVMH are yet to come on board, we hope that, with the support of the BFC and CFDA, the numbers are looking in favour of radical change.

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