I am writing this open letter to WWD, and in particular to Miles Socha and his collaborators Samantha Conti, Alessandra Turra and Luisa Zargani, in relation to the excellent piece “Will Flood of Collections Yield to Slower Fashion?” published yesterday, April 2nd.
Congratulations: The reflection on how absurd the current state of things is, with the overproduction of garments and a criminal nonalignment between the weather and the commercial season, is courageous and necessary. I agree with each and every point of it, in solidarity with the opinions expressed by my colleagues.
For years I have been raising the same questions during press conferences following my shows, often unheard, or considered moralistic. The current emergency, on the other hand, shows that a careful and intelligent slowdown is the only way out, a road that will finally bring value back to our work and that will make final customers perceive its true importance and value.
The decline of the fashion system as we know it began when the luxury segment adopted the operating methods of fast fashion, mimicking the latter’s endless delivery cycle in the hope of selling more, yet forgetting that luxury takes time, to be achieved and to be appreciated. Luxury cannot and must not be fast. It makes no sense for one of my jackets or suits to live in the shop for three weeks before becoming obsolete, replaced by new goods that are not too different.
I don’t work like that, and I find it immoral to do so. I have always believed in an idea of timeless elegance, which is not only a precise aesthetic code, but also an approach to the design and making of garments that suggests a way of buying them: to make them last. For the same reason, I find it absurd that, in the middle of winter, one can only find linen dresses in the shops and alpaca coats in the summer, for the simple reason that the desire to purchase must be satisfied immediately.
Who buys an item to put it in the closet waiting for the right season? None or just a few, I believe. But this, driven by department stores, has become the dominant mind-set, which I think is wrong and needs to change.
This crisis is an opportunity to slow down and realign everything; to define a more meaningful landscape. I have been working with my teams for three weeks so that, after the lockdown, the summer collections will remain in the boutiques at least until the beginning of September, as it is natural. And so we will do from now on.
This crisis is also an opportunity to restore value to authenticity: Enough with fashion as pure communication, enough with cruise shows around the world to present mild ideas and entertain with grandiose shows that today seem a bit inappropriate, and even a tad vulgar — enormous but ultimately meaningless wastes of money. Special events should happen for special occasions, not as a routine.
The moment we are going through is turbulent, but it also offers us the unique opportunity to fix what is wrong, to regain a more human dimension. It’s nice to see that in this sense we are all united.
For retail this will be an important stress test. I want to send my heartfelt encouragement to the American fashion operators for the difficult weeks they will face ahead. United, we will make it. But we have to be united and operate in unison: This is perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from this crisis.
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