Fashion’s new season cycles
Fashion’s new season cycles
One of the foremost reasons for the existence of clothing is to protect the wearer while adding comfort. While our personal fabric choices may be discretionary, one can agree that a single piece of clothing is not viable for wearing the entire year in. One cannot wear fur coats in the scorching sun of May, while a viscose T-shirt might be unable to protect you from cold winds that freeze up noses. This is why since the advent of modern civilisation, seasons have enabled a change in wardrobes as the conditions become demanding.
Thus, dividing your wardrobe into two seasons makes sense. Thick layers for winters and easy-breezy fabrics for the summers with transitional pieces dropped in here and there. Sounds simple, right? Well, the fashion industry seems to have taken a complicated route to this simple idea. While early on, the seasons started off as Spring-Summer and Fall-Winter, the introduction of Resort and Pre-Fall collections have disrupted the seasonal process.
For example, a brand with a Spring-Summer collection can show their offerings at the start of the season which seems to be the February-March period. Similarly, the Fall-Winter starts at the August-September period. This means that consumers should ideally see these new collection pieces during those times. However, brands seemed to have taken a different approach by showcasing months before the actual season so that they get a buffer to adjust to the buyer’s customisations for the line-up. This meant that the runway shows shifted months prior to the actual season start. This is why we could see dainty linen dresses on the runway during the peak of winters.
While all this was still manageable, the introduction of fast fashion deepened this problem. Most fast fashion brands copy runway pieces in cheap fabrics and throw it on shelves before anyone else can. The turnover time for a piece to showcase on the runway and fast fashion brands copying, manufacturing and selling it come down to just 2 weeks! Thus, a designer’s hard work which lasts months is easily used up by a fast fashion brand’s quick and cheap production process. Here lies the actual problem – if designers are delaying runway seasons and fast fashion brands copy and produce similar garments in a very short amount of time, the outcome is a strange merchandise collection which does not resonate with the seasons at all. The store shelves are already filled with fur coats and blazers while it is 45 degrees of scorching heat outside the store.
Add to that the introduction of Resort and Pre-Fall seasons on the fashion calendar and we have a recipe for chaos that doesn’t make sense to a consumer. The recent trend of collaborations and capsule collections is another problem on hands. This means that brands need to continuously be involved in a creative process rather than allowing time to rejuvenate them. Creative directors as well as designers face this problem which has resulted in them hopping from brand to brand in order to keep them creative rather than a single brand allowing them time to freshen up. A disconnect, thus, becomes noticeable that runs deep into the industry.
This disconnect has become one of the foremost problems that plagued the industry while also drawing attention to over-consumption and cheap unregulated production practices. COVID-19 has caused a screeching halt to all manufacturing and retail processes which have enabled time for brands to rethink about the fashion seasons. The inventory for the actual next season is already with the brands and this acts as a good opportunity to slow down.
Many brands have shown an inclination to the new fashion cycle as Saint Laurent opted out of Paris Fashion Week to adjust their fashion calendar as well as gain the authority to space out collections at their own capabilities. Saint Laurent is one of the houses that has conventionally challenged fashion on various degrees and this decision would shock people, rather amuse them as a bold initiative. High fashion brands can easily accustom themselves to new fashion cycles once everybody comes on board and with statements from prominent authorities like the CFDA and BFC to slow down the pace of fashion, can make a difference.
Coming to fast fashion brands, the entire business model revolves around copying runway trends, which has come under scrutiny for its reckless, rampant and unregulated nature. Take, for example, the latest Amiri Vs ZARA lawsuit where Amiri’s claims of ZARA copying their jeans were disregarded by ZARA as generic fashion design. Thus, fast fashion brands will continue knocking off runway pieces as long as people show interest in buying those knock-offs. The desire to own a runway piece is half-heartedly satisfied by a cheap replacement that may not stand the test of times. Thus, to control all the outcomes, the start is very crucial. If designers and brands move closer to the seasons, fast fashion brands will automatically slow down and adjust their pursuit of copying.