While it boasts an impressive list of signatories, the petition for a more sensible and sustainable fashion calendar spearheaded by Dries Van Noten did not manage to rope in any brand from Europe’s three big luxury groups — until now.
WWD has learned that Chloé chief executive officer Riccardo Bellini has signed the so-called “forum letter,” which aims to better align fashion deliveries with seasons and stamp out early markdowns. Chloé is the flagship fashion brand of Swiss luxury group Richemont, also parent of Cartier, Dunhill, Baume & Mercier and Net-a-porter.
“This crisis is offering us a big opportunity — and a responsibility — to rethink our entire business and to correct what is wrong, outdated or environmentally or socially damaging,” the executive said in an interview Monday. “Most of this problem requires collective solutions.”
Applauding how the “entire industry is coming together in a spirit of collaboration,” Bellini said he reached out to Van Noten directly, inspired by the Belgian designer’s efforts to galvanize retailers and brands behind slower fashion, disciplined discounts and greater respect for the creative process.
The signatories are hoping to seize on circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic — later deliveries for fall collections due to factory shutdowns in Europe — and make that the new normal.
The forum proposes that men’s and women’s fall collections should be merchandised in stores from August to January, with markdowns in January, and spring collections displayed from February to July, with markdowns in July. It’s also striving for “less unnecessary product, less waste in fabrics and inventory, less travel” and intends to “review and adapt fashion shows” should a new delivery cadence take hold, as reported.
Bellini said Monday he appreciates that the forum “gives space to brands to react” rather than imposing a defined manifesto of actions.
“It proposes a more environmentally sustainable framework without being specific on elements of calendar, presentation formats, and timings,” which he said should be left to organizing bodies in the big fashion capitals, in coordination with the brands themselves.
In his view, a slower fashion system would rekindle what people love about the industry: “creativity, the process behind, the beauty, craftsmanship and design.”
Chloé is working on its spring 2021 collection and plans to hold a presentation for it in September during Paris Fashion Week — likely a hybrid of a digital and physical event, Bellini said. He noted the studio, led by creative director Natacha Ramsay-Levi, is now finalizing a “reduced” pre-spring collection to be sold in June via a digital showroom.
The executive stressed that “the fashion show is still at the core of our creative model, because that’s where the creative spark is born.
“Ultimately my hope is that this system will bring back a model which is even more rooted in authentic creativity and the authentic processes of fashion,” he explained. “Preserving that moment will be fundamental. How we do and when we do it is still a work in progress.”
Among those who have also signed the online petition at forumletter.org are executives from the retailers Lane Crawford in Asia, Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom in the U.S.; Holt Renfrew in Canada; Beymen in Turkey; KaDeWe and Mytheresa 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. Participating designers include Tory Burch, Altuzarra, Thom Browne, Craig Green, Erdem Moralioglu, Gabriela Hearst, Mary Katrantzou and Marine Serre.
When he unveiled the consortium last week, Van Noten said he was in touch with executives at the other two big luxury groups — Kering and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton — but had no commitments from them.
Giorgio Armani, Saks Fifth Avenue and Philadelphia retailer Boyds have also been urging a slowdown in the pace of fashion, with deliveries better timed to consumer needs and discounts only at the end of seasons.
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