What drives change in fashion? On many occasions, it starts with one – often rather powerful and influential – designer to create a ripple effect. When Gucci decided to drop fur in 2018, names such as Burberry, Versace, Michael Kors, Chanel and Prada all followed suit. And two years later, Gucci still leads the way: where powerhouse creative director Alessandro Michele goes, fashion tends to follow. So in May, when Gucci announced that it would be turning away from the seasonal autumn/winter and spring/summer model in favour of two seasonless shows per year, fashion insiders listened up.
“The change I imagine involves the capacity to reconnect with the deepest reasons that inspired my entry into the fashion realm,” wrote Alessandro Michele in a Gucci Instagram post. It sounds like Michele, like so many of us, faced a period of introspection in lockdown, which just may spark a revolution in fashion. Like many other luxury brands, Gucci used to launch approximately five collections per year – not many compared to fast-fashion houses churning out a new range almost every week, but still a considerable increase from the twice-per-year launches of decades ago. And other luxury brands were the first to follow Gucci’s example: Michael Kors, Saint Laurent and Marc Jacobs have all removed their shows from the official Fashion Week calendar in September.
As Fashion Weeks plan a partly digital, partly physical return, a more urgent question arises: is there a future for seasons in fashion at all?
Sustainability experts see Gucci’s announcement as a beginning, a door opening to a more conscious future of fashion – but they are also quick to stress that the goal is far from reached. Sian Conway, founder of sustainability community #EthicalHour, writes for Fashion Roundtable: “On the surface the move is a major victory for sustainable fashion campaigners – to have such an influential fashion brand seemingly put the environment first. But beneath the surface, the announcement raises significant questions about how we can really build a ‘leaner, less wasteful fashion industry’, and what systems need to be in place to make that happen.”
There is definitely an environmental argument to be made in favour of fashion that isn’t tied to a specific season. We’re so used to viewing clothes as connected to the seasons that it appears to be almost a necessity to update our style every six months or so. Think about it: magazine articles listing “twenty must-haves for the new season”, influencers enthusiastically showing off their “summer fashion hauls” on social media, or simply your friend getting bored of “last year’s” clothes and getting rid of them in favour of the most recent new styles. Our approach to our wardrobes is quick-fix, flavour of the moment, and hardly built to last. This results in a world where the equivalent of a garbage truck of textiles is burned or thrown into landfill every second.
A while ago, I read a headline saying that “skinny jeans are dead”. Since I only ever wear skinny jeans, this was great news – I could envision the second-hand market filling up with them, which would result in many new finds for me! But jokes aside, a wardrobe mentality where a style that is seen on the page of every magazine and on the back of every celebrity is declared deceased mere months later is wasteful and unnecessary. Clothes that can transcend the seasons are a must in a world that struggles to find a new normal after a global crisis – in the midst of what is still very much an ongoing climate breakdown. Plus, there is the argument of quality: if you buy a Gucci design today, the very least you expect is for it to last beyond next spring/summer.
Ultimately, big-name brands like Gucci set the tone for what will come next in fashion. But what is truly needed is a change of mentality– we have to stop viewing fashion as disposable. We have to modify the approach that connects fashion to a fleeting, temporary “right now” and find a more mindful way to build our wardrobes and prepare them to stand the test of time – both when it comes to quality and style. The death of seasonality might spell an end to the dictatorship of what’s “in” or “out”, and the concept of trends may be slowly replaced by a more long-lasting search for a personal style. In short, to make fashion truly seasonless and sustainable, it needs to become less… fashion.
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Cover image via Gucci.