Among the many things happening in this period, one of the issues we care most about is the future of the fashion system. Which, ironically, is so little taken into account by anyone else outside the system. Who does not work in the field does not know, and this is the reason why the information is confused, mixed and erroneous.
Anyone who sees fashion from the outside wonders what sense it makes to present from six to eight collections a year. If the seasonal change, the caducity of trend and style and the need for new collections have always been the lifeblood of fashion, what is really at the center of the debate is more the speed, higher and higher, of this circle. This dialogue, around the meaning of a rhythm now out of control, was born first of all within the sector. Now the discussion has also extended to consumers themselves, who feel overwhelmed by the continuous innovations.
Giorgio Armani, among huge donations and actions, is working hard to make the most of the moment. He wrote a letter to the Women’s Wear Daily – one of the sector’s leading magazines – which is a letter of criticism rather than reflection. But it is also a declaration of intent.
“The decline of the fashion system, as we know it, began when the luxury sector adopted the fast fashion operating methods with the continuous delivery cycle, hoping to sell more”, the letter reads. And it goes on “I don’t want to work like this anymore, it’s immoral”. After the initial outburst, the actual strategy follows: Armani summer collection will remain in the shop until September, and will then be replaced by the winter one for the following six months. With the intent of a realignment with the natural flow of the seasons that the fashion system, as the greatest exponent of that millennial culture versus nature dispute, has changed over the years.
According to Giorgio Armani, the crisis we are facing offers the possibility of a return to what is authentic. To the fashion system “before”. After all, the need for authenticity and depth is a mega-trend that has been emerging for some time now. It is up to all the players in the system to ensure that they are not just words.
But this is the crucial point, the problem of a letter that appears perfect on paper but then collides with the reality of the facts. The speed of fashion, which we all believe is unsustainable, is not a vanity of the sector, but a characteristic that has developed over the years, due to the development of the economic system all of us, during the years, wished to create. How to manage now, in the best and less dangerous way possible, the situation?
We don’t need nostalgia, first of all. Forecasts say there is no going back. We do not go back to life as we knew it two months ago, let alone go back to the life of the last century. We don’t even need drastic measures, because it is unreal – and irresponsible – to think you can stop such a huge system. There are too many people who would be crushed between the gears.
Most of all we need dialogue, which is the great void Armani’s letters helped to underline. A responsible dialogue in the sector, articulated and considering each part of the production chain. Because if a change of this kind were to take place, at the end of all this, it would have to deal with both short-term and long-term implications, ensuring sustainability along the entire supply chain.
And then you need honesty and responsibility. “Enough of fashion as a communication game” remarked Armani in the letter and, we add, enough of fashion as an empty container of glamour. We hope that the post Covid is the beginning of a new humanism and we hope that fashion, as a cultural and economic system, takes care of individuals in a new way, thinking of supporting their needs, material and otherwise.
Words by Giulia Greco