The Fashion Industry Says: Produce Less

by Bella Gladman on 21 May 2020

Two of fashion's major industry organisations, the BFC and CFDA, issue a joint statement to produce less, in what could prove to be a turning point for the fashion industry.

Two of fashion's major industry organisations, the BFC and CFDA, issue a joint statement to produce less, in what could prove to be a turning point for the fashion industry.

The British Fashion Council (BFC) and Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) have teamed up to issue a joint statement on how the fashion industry should reset itself. The statement calls for brands, designers and retailers to slow down, and implying–if not saying it outright–that they should produce less.

Suggesting producing less is a radical proposition from two huge fashion industry bodies, whose very purpose is to support industry and businesses. In making this recommendation, fashion is perhaps the first major industry to acknowledge the untenable situation of overproduction, which underpins a multitude of exploitative systems, including depletion of natural resources and the systemic ill-treatment of workers.

The BFC and CFDA suggest a number of routes by which designers and brands can curtail excess output, asking that they focus on no more than two collections a year, citing the importance of giving creativity time to develop, and also aiming to reduce stress on designers and their teams. Their reminder to return pre-collections to their original intended purpose, which was 'to offer the consumer beautiful clothes that carry the ethos of the individual brands but are not necessarily sufficiently fashion forward to warrant a show' in turn reminds us of how overstuffed with clothes and newness the industry has been. Further down the agenda, the statement mentions sustainability, noting that a less-is-more approach will 'increase the consumer's respect and ultimately their greater enjoyment in the products that [the fashion industry creates].'

Perhaps underscoring their own relevance in a time where the industry has been in free-fall, the two organisations also urge designers to show on schedule on the regular fashion calendar in the major fashion capitals (which, of course, the BFC and CFDA organise) so as to reduce the carbon footprint of industry travel. Added to that, the organisations have underscored that they will be creating 'calendars and other formats' which will 'help to organise the virtual presentations for Spring/Summer collections'. This presumably means for menswear, which would have been set to show S/S 21 physically in a couple of weeks' time in June, if not for coronavirus, but the lack of specificity could indicate that the BFC and CFDA are planning for virtual fashion week for S/S 21 womenswear, which would typically be held in September.

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