The implications of the pandemic were felt deep and far. 2020 was a year of paradigm change, exposing the wounds caused by environmental issues, deep inequality, labour exploitation and much more. But there has been good news too, arising despite the limitations—or rising from it—that were a step closer to solutions. These promising developments, from restructuring the fashion calendar to building community, brought a wave of change. Catch up here.
Gucci announced two collections per year, and others echoed
Released via several entries from Alessandro Michele’s personal diaries over the strictest period of lockdown in Rome, the creative director announced a radical shift for the Italian fashion house. “I will abandon the worn-out ritual of seasonalities and shows to regain a new cadence, closer to my expressive call. We will meet just twice a year, to share the chapters of a new story,” he wrote in May. Meaning that, overthrowing the traditional fashion schedule, Gucci will only present two shows, cutting down from five. Saint Laurent too said that it will remove itself from the fashion calendar, instead, it will create its own. Ralph Lauren moved its fall 2020 show closer to the season, conspicuous in absence at New York Fashion Week.
Upcycling became the norm
“I am always looking for ways to reduce my waste, but the pandemic and subsequent lockdown made me go even further,” London-based menswear designer and Next In Fashion alumnus Daniel W Fletcher told Vogue India. “A lot of businesses will be looking for ways to localise their supply chains and to make their business model adapt to an increasingly digital world,” added Priya Ahluwalia, one of this year’s eight LVMH Prize finalists. While young names, including Bethany Williams and Emily Bode have championed repurposing textiles, the big leagues also took a major step towards sustainability. Coach (note the reworked 1970s bags, think Maison Margiela’s upcycled ‘Recicla’ designs and Miu Miu’s exclusive 80-piece capsule collection that was upcycled refashioned from antique pieces.
Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada became co-creative directors at Prada
Early on in 2020, it was announced that menswear designer Raf Simons, previously at Jil Sander, Christian Dior, and Calvin Klein, would join Prada as co-creative director with equal responsibilities for creative decision-making. While Miuccia Prada transformed the legendary Italian house into one of fashion’s ready-to-wear powerhouses, their collaboration was destined to reimagine the brand. Eight months later, the duo’s anticipated co-debut collection presented a new Prada uniform, of clutched statement coats, front-and-centre logos, hoodies and matching full skirts, built-in fanny packs and Swiss-cheese cutouts. “I’ve always seen it as a community that has a very specific attitude, intellect, aesthetic. The one thing that you can’t really define is what it is, but you feel it is, it exists, it’s there,” said Simons of ‘Prada-ness’.
Dries Van Noten’s open letter to adjust the current fashion calendar
On May 12, a group of luxury retailers, led by Dries Van Noten, published an online open letter to the fashion industry addressed to “adjust the seasonality and flow of both womenswear and menswear goods”. The Belgian designer and experts including CEOs to buyers and creative directors proposed realigning the timing of collection deliveries and discounts to appropriate months, moving autumn/winter back to August until January, and the spring/summer back to February until July. To which, Eva Kruse agreed by saying: “Massive discounts have decreased the value of the product and made us as consumers used to getting things at a discounted rate. When everything is discounted, you also often buy too much.”
Marcus Rashford teamed up with Burberry on a global initiative
“I’ve got a lot of belief in the young people of today. I want to support them as much as I can, just believe in them and show them that the country can be better in the future,” wrote Marcus Rashford in an open letter to his 10-year-old self. The British footballer impacted the lives of close to four million children and youth in response to the COVID-19 lockdown, by tying up with UK charities to deliver meals. His impactful campaign for youth hunger and poverty in the wake of the pandemic was born out of sheer experience as a child. Taking a step further, he joined hands with Burberry to go global—support youth organisations across the UK and world. The organisations to be impacted in the partnership include London Youth, Wide Rainbow in New York and the International Youth Foundation, which enables young entrepreneurs and community leaders, particularly in Asia.
The 2021 International Woolmark Prize to focus to traceability
One of the most prestigious titles in fashion, the International Woolmark Prize has launched names like Karl Lagerfeld, Ralph Lauren, Gabriela Hearst, Ruchika Sachdev of Bodice and most recently Richard Malone this year. For the 2021 edition, the six finalists have an unprecedented challenge—to work on their collections with restrictions for the most part. Using Australian merino wool entirely around the theme “Less is more”, the designers will create sustainable, traceable collections with a particular focus on how each garment fairly represents its supply chain.
Stella McCartney’s A-Z manifesto
In a moment during the lockdown, Stella McCartney began asking herself deep questions. It grew into the McCartney A to Z Manifesto, a map of all value systems that stand for the brand. ‘A for Accountable’, ‘C for Conscious’, ‘O for Organic’, and so on, arrived with the spring/summer 2021 collection, Stella McCartney Eco Impact Report for 2018/19 disclosing operational costs, emissions, waste creations and mission statements. “Having been in fashion for 20 years, I have been thinking a lot about our wider impact. How can we reduce what we produce? How can we do more with less? How can we be truly zero waste?” she explained.
Gabriela Hearst named creative director of Chloé
Gabriela Hearst was announced the new artistic director of Chloé, a week after Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s exit. The Uruguayan, based in New York designer’s appointment cements the French luxury goods house’s powerful move towards sustainability and mindful products. Hearst’s statement-making sustainability approach, where she uses deadstock materials, eco-friendly fabrics and recycled yarns whenever she can also won her CFDA’s Womenswear Designer prize this year. “Together, we share the conviction that we all have a responsibility to actively participate in the shaping of a sustainable future and look forward to jointly pushing Chloé to new heights,” affirmed Riccardo Bellini, CEO of Chloé.