Could This be the End for Seasonal Fashion?
It’s always been odd to contemplate next summer’s vibes just as the autumnal chill is swooping in, and now could be the time to throw the unsustainable seasonal fashion model onto the bonfire.
There have been whispers about the fall of the fashion calendar since Burberry began dismantling the tradition in 2016, but with Spring’s lockdown giving fashion houses an uncharacteristic moment to pause for breath, the momentum for year round fashion is gathering speed once more.
Below is a list of five catalysts sparking the shift away from seasonality, and how the way you craft your wardrobe is leading the way.
1. A Collective Pause for Thought
The relentless wheel of the fashion calendar has been thundering on, churning out time-pressured collections for decades. Global lockdowns, however, have stopped this runaway train and allowed designers some much-needed months to contemplate the scenery.
Just as many of us may have been given time to ‘zoom out’ and consider what we really value, the fashion industry has also been pondering it’s position in today's world.
The excess and extravagance which once seemed fun and modern, now seems strangely outmoded, which naturally leaves a bad taste in the collective mouth of designers everywhere.
Fashion houses have been expanding their vision to and allowing brand heritage to take precedence over collection-focuses thinking, and according to Heather Gramston, head of womenswear buying at Browns:
“We have seen a shift away from ‘trends’ and designers are now embracing what their brands stand for,”
2. A Seachange From Trends to Timelessness
Explosive flash in the pan fashions which burst onto the scene and disappear within a matter of minutes are burning out. Sure, objects like absurdly tiny bags are undeniably kitsch and fun, but trends feel teenage and fashion seems to be growing up.
Timeless colours and silhouettes are in demand, fuelled by consumer desire to create the perfect, evergreen capsule wardrobe. The colour palette of spring/summer 2020 was dominated by versatile white as a foundation to build around, whereas in autumn/winter 2020 black was at the forefront.
Although these colours are presented as ‘seasonal’, anyone worth their fashion salt knows that the old American adage of “don’t wear white after Labour Day” is being waved a gleeful goodbye.
According to Rebecca Tinker, womenswear buyer at Selfridges, the incentive behind fashion design has changed and the goal is no longer making an unsustainable splash. Tinker explained to Haarpers Bazaar that:
“Collections are more seasonless than ever, as brands take more of a considered approach to the longevity of a collection. We have seen more classic silhouettes and less reliability on prints dominating the market. This is strongly resonating with our customers who seek pieces that they can keep in their wardrobe longer than a season.”
3. Awakening Environmental Awareness
London Fashion Week’s hottest designers this year were a collection of sustainable superstars such as Richard Malone, Phoebe English and Molly Goddard. This well-deserved fanfare was a huge shout out for eco-conscious fashion.
It’s no longer cool — in any sense of the word — to ravenously consume season upon season of clothing, and an increasingly seasonless approach underlines this ethos.
The Senior fashion market editor at Net-a-Porter, Libby Page, has noticed this shift and adjusted accordingly. She explained to Harpers Bazaar:
“There is a growing awareness – conscious consumption is more important than ever to consumers, which means that when it comes to fashion, the focus has slowly started to shift from quantity, to quality. Fewer, high-quality pieces that are loved and worn in multiple ways are now the preference as these pieces have a timelessness to them, that often make them seasonless.”
Well-selected quality pieces which cost more, ultimately cost less both in financial and environmental terms.
As the faddishness of fashion is slowly discarded, investing in clothing which will last a lifetime is both an appealing and realistic idea.
4. Removing the Seasonal Shackles from Creativity
As any artist will tell you, the whims of the elusive muse have no respect for the trivalties of human practicality.
Boxing designers into strictly defined seasons impedes creativity and, when the walls are removed, unexpected and exciting things happen. As seasonality has organically begun to shed its relevance, some designers such as Giambattista Valli have literally bloomed in the winter months.
Giambattista Valli Fall Ready-to-wear 2020, pictures by Vogue @voguemagazine @giambattistaPR #voguemagazine #vogue #giambattistavalli #runway #pasarelas #seethrough #tranparencia #lace #ilovefashion #highfashion #altamoda #fall #otoño #couture #readytowear #resort #chillax pic.twitter.com/XcrdFjo4wG— MMMAYA (@MMMAYA1990) August 27, 2020
Pink florals in an Autumn/Winter collection would have been seen as an ill-considered faux pas a few years ago, but a seasonless model allows more freedom for designers to flourish.
Perhaps this change is an example of art imitating life, as fewer and fewer people are chained to the concept of the seasons when it comes to dressing.
5. A Consumer Led Revolution
Once upon a time, fashion houses used to steer the fashion chariot from on high as us mere mortals scrambled to keep up, but now our hands firmly grasp the reigns.
In an increasingly consumer driven society, where semi-ordinary people power the fashion rules as self-styled influencers, the industry is now looking to us mere mortals for inspiration.
This spectacular flip-reverse has been so subtle that it has largely gone unnoticed, but fashion houses are now trying to deliver what we want as opposed to what they want us to want.
According to Retail Week, 98 percent of retailers say that customers are embracing seasonless fashion trends and our willingness to say, don a pair of leather boots in June or whack on a cheerful pink floral in January, has guided the fashion industries hand.
Burberry may have seemed revolutionary with their ‘see now, buy now’, seasonless 2016 collection, but they were following our lead.