Kent Gushner has become passionate about transforming the fashion calendar.
The third-generation owner of the luxury Boyds specialty store in Philadelphia has created a petition inviting other retailers and wholesalers to join him in his quest to slash the number of deliveries and revert to a simple spring and fall schedule.
In an open letter sent to WWD, Gushner wrote that since the early Aughts, when international fashion brands partnered with major department stores to institute more-frequent deliveries, the impact has “devastated our industry” and led to “superfluous amounts of unseasonable and, therefore, undesirable merchandise. Consequently, it has created an overly promotional retail environment, which has an omnipresence that is unsustainable. It has also stretched creative directors past their artistic limits, leaving them no choice but to present ideas which are not consistently reflective of their true talents.”
Gushner said, in a move to “support the realignment and profitability of our entire industry,” he’s purporting the production of only two distinct seasons a year that will “take place during a coordinated and concise time period.”
Later deliveries timed to fulfill consumer demand for in-season product will also lead to fewer promotions, Gushner believes. He said retailers need to go back to marking down spring goods after the July Fourth holiday and fall goods following New Year’s. “This shift will enhance the credibility of full-price selling seasons,” he said.
Gushner was motivated by a letter written by Giorgio Armani to WWD last month where the designer called the current state of fashion “absurd…with the overproduction of garments and a criminal nonalignment between the weather and the commercial season.” He said the current delivery schedule was prompted by the luxury segment mimicking the “endless delivery” cadence of the fast-fashion brands. “Luxury cannot and must not be fast,” Armani wrote.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Armani believes there is an opportunity for a “careful and intelligent slowdown” for the industry, which will “finally bring value back to our work” and lead customers to “perceive its true importance and value.”
Earlier this week, a coalition in Europe that included Dries Van Noten held a Zoom meeting to support the same realignment of the fashion calendar and created a web site, forumletter.org, to gather signatures from like-minded designers and retailers committed to slowing down the fashion cadence.
Van Noten, who was joined by Andrew Keith, president of Lane Crawford and Joyce, and Altuzarra chief executive officer Shira Sue Carmi on the Zoom call, is hoping to seize the opportunity of delayed fall 2020 deliveries due to the COVID-19 crisis to make this the new normal.
Saks Fifth Avenue has already publicly voiced its support for the movement while others who have signed the Forumletter petition include Bergdorf Goodman, Jeffrey and Nordstrom in the U.S.; Holt Renfrew in Canada; Beymen in Turkey; KaDeWe in Germany; La Rinascente and Antonioli in Italy; David Jones in Australia; Liberty and Selfridges in the U.K.; United Arrows in Japan; Illum in Denmark, and Shinsegae in South Korea. Other designers who support the movement include Tory Burch, Thom Browne, Craig Green, Erdem Moralioglu, Gabriela Hearst, Mary Katrantzou and Marine Serre.
Gushner’s petition is posted on Change.org and he is soliciting others to sign it and show their their support for the concept. He ended his letter this way: “Obviously COVID-19 presents our entire industry with myriad challenges, but it also poses this one-time opportunity to effectuate meaningful and long-overdue change.”