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By Elena Picci

Fashion Seasons and Shows: are front rows disappearing for the sake of Sustainability?

COVID19 is pushing some of your favorite brands to change and rethink the way they are scheduling fashion collections and their highly anticipated shows.
Does this mean the end of crowded fashion weeks? Will Season-less be the new trend of the upcoming season?

Over time, fashion shows have transcended the limitations of seasonal practicality. It is not uncommon to see a sleeveless dress in a winter collection. Winter is not at the same time all around the world, so we might as well empathize, right? Not so fast.

With big names like Gucci announcing that fashion shows will never be the same, what’s happening right now? What is the purpose of a fashion calendar?

Now, this is a must-read regardless whether you are “the-one-dying-to-be-watching-a-fashion-show” or not. This is about the future of something we love.

COVID19 is pushing your favorite brands to change and rethink their fashion collections.

Is it the end of busy catwalks?

Is Season-less the actual non-trend trendsetting a new era?

Image Credits: Renoon

Fashion Seasons are following the weather, no? No.

Fashion relies on so many seasons and they can be confusing as their timelines do not correlate with the weather. One thing is sure, 4 seasons are not enough anymore. In the Fashion Industry, there are usually 2 to 8 fashion seasons. Let’s have a closer look at the different Fashion shows usually on the agenda.

#Womenswear

Womenswear shows are the most famous events that usually last over a month. It starts in New York and then goes to London, Milan and Paris. This event happens twice a year as there is the Fall/Winter in February and Spring/Summer collections in September. How weird is it to see crop tops before the winter?

#Menswear

These shows, such as the womenswear, happen twice per year for the collections Fall/Winter in December or January and Spring/Summer in June. These collections aim to show what will be the “men-trend” one year in advance. It usually happens close to another fashion event such as the Haute Couture in order to maximize attendance.

(Some brands such as Gucci or Burberry, do actually combine womenswear and menswear as clothes are supposed to be gender-neutral)

#Haute Couture

Certainly, everyone’s favorite! Clothes from Haute Couture shows are made by hand, using the most prestigious craftsmanship and savoir-faire of the fashion industry. This event happens biannually in Paris as there are two collections, the Fall/Winter in July and Spring/Summer in January. Only a few luxury brands, such as Chanel, Dior and Valentino participate in this show. The collection featured made-to-order items. Fun fact? No Haute Couture item is sold twice in a country in order to maintain prestige (and maybe to avoid two celebrities wearing the same outfit at a gala)

#Resort and Pre-fall

Also well known are the Cruise and the Fall collections, not every brand decides to exhibit these two collections through a fashion show. It was initiated at the beginning to promote collections for wealthy families who could go to exotic destinations during winter. As a consequence, these collections usually overlap the other collections. There are no strict locations or dates to respect for these two.

For example, Pre-Fall is shown in December by some brands and in January for others and locations varies a lot from the South of Italy to France and the USA.

These collections are the most important ones and are also the ones with longer shelf lives.

“It’s about creating desirable pieces that can take you from October through early spring”

Derek Lam, Fashion Designer

Image Description from left to right: Reformation Dress; Hailey Bieber wearing reformation dress from Home

Are traditional Fashion Shows collections sustainable?

Fashion shows are the moment for a creative director to express themselves through installations, clothes and guests. Most of the time these shows have a story to tell or a message to share. Without a doubt, they can be considered works of art.

However,  the fact that brands must create so many new collections that fit into these tight timelines has serious implications for the environment and the way that we consume. Did you count them? Brands could have up to 8 fashion shows per year! Could this ever be sustainable?

Are fashion shows and seasons really necessary?

#Strict deadlines

Fashion Brands do shows in order to build anticipation and gauge interest for what will be available in their stores. Of course, the pieces are not created yet. What you see on stage are prototypes.

According to what seems to be appreciated the most, they will decide on quantities and launch the production. This means they have less than 6 months to produce everything and to put it in the store. It can be stressful and most of the time, the environment or social wellbeing are overlooked in the rush to meet strict deadlines.

#Fast Fashion

Have you ever noticed Fast Fashion Brands have Trendy clothes at a lower cost?

Well, this brings us to the second issue of fashion shows. By showing the collections in advance, fast fashion brands can cut their designer cost and copy luxurious brands collections. In order to make them cheap and in time, we will let you imagine how much sustainability is considered. Fast fashion brands are able to present new collections every two weeks. For most of us, buying in fast fashion stores was the only affordable way (until new easy options like rentals become available) to follow the trends of big brands. As a result,  80 billion articles of clothing are purchased each year (CNN). Aren’t you tired of this system and want to know how to break up with fast fashion?

#Tons of Travel

From New York to London, to Milan and last but not least to Paris.

People (mainly celebrities and journalists) come from all over the world to participate in-person to these Fashion Shows.  Can you just imagine the amount of CO2 emissions coming from flights?

A study from Zero to Market estimated the total amount of CO2 emissions due to travel for fashion shows at 241,000 tonnes! Only for the Paris fashion week approximately 70,000 buyers and designers fly to the capital.

#High amount of Waste

Each thing that you see on set, from the chairs to the curtains and the lights are all brought to the country of the show is happening and then used only once. As the cost to bring them back would be higher to destroy them. Do you know where all these materials end up? The same place our clothes go when we through them away.

Image Description: Kevin Germanier Upcycled Outfit; Kevin Germanier Upcycled outfit on Animal Crossing

Is there the need to cancel  Fashions Shows to make them sustainable?

Due to COVID Fashion shows planned between May to September are highly impacted. Some have been postponed, come cancelled and others held digitally. Is now the time to start doing things differently? Last year the trend was to make Fashion shows carbon neutral. Is season-less the new sustainable trend? Is the Fashion calendar becoming obsolete? What does it mean for the fashionistas out there following trends?

Let’s see different ways brands are managing the season-less due to COVID19.

#Cancelled Shows

It all happened during the lockdown. While some brands are still thinking on how to manage September fashion week, other brands, such as Saint Laurent made a public statement they will not hold a show in September and will from now on make their own agenda (BBC). Will this last Post Covid?

#Reduced Collections

It all happened during the lockdown. While some brands are still thinking on how to manage September fashion week, other brands, such as Saint Laurent made a public statement they will not hold a show in September and will from now on make their own agenda (BBC). Will this last Post Covid?

#Fashion From Home

During Covid19, the fashion industry had to find a way to keep working. Since the fashion shows were not allowed anymore, brands had to think differently in order to present their collections. It actually leads the industry in a lot of creativity such as shootings through facetime like the one we all loved of Bella Hadid for Jacquemus. How cool is it to see new collections in celebrities homes?

#Digital Fashion

Who said we needed to travel to see new collections each season?

Digital is always stronger in fashion and it would be no surprise that digital runways and showrooms will certainly play a larger role in the near future (BOF).

Recently, the photographer Kara Chung and the stylist Marc Goehring organised for the first time ever a Fashion Show on Animal Crossing including looks from Valentino, Louis Vuitton and Loewe (Vogue).

Will Fashion collections be presented digitally in the future? It would solve many environmental issues that the traditional shows currently have.

#Seasonless

In other words this would mean a collection without any seasonal changes. For a long time now, fashion seasons have been disconnected to actual seasons. 

#No-season = follow your own

Fashion is something we can’t be without. But, what we are seeing even now with Covid-19 is its true essence: creativity. How did people get so creative? The virus has forced them to adapt. Can brands extend this same creativity to their efforts in sustainability?

Why can’t we wear what we like? Are Leggings old fashioned? Yes. But there are still the most comfortable pants ever.

Sustainable brands often go for timeless fabrics and items in order to ensure we wear them longer such as the core collection of Filippa K, designed to be timeless.

Find more from Filippa K

Why did we wear ballerina shoes for years and suffer from stinky feet? Let’s never go back to that, please – or oops, if ballerina flats are your thing, whatever; you do you.

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