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BFC and CFDA call for industry change

The British Fashion Council (BFC) and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) have called for an alignment of the global fashion industry amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a group statement, the organisations said the Covid-19 crisis has created an opportunity to “rethink and reset” the way fashion designers work, including “slowing down” and creating just two main collections a year. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting the fashion industry from every angle and severely impacting all of the global fashion capitals, and while there is no immediate end in sight, there is an opportunity to rethink and reset the way in which we all work and show our collections. From the onset of this crisis, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and British Fashion Council have been in close communication, sharing feedback from their members and stakeholders.”

The BFC and CFDA said common perspectives of their members and the organisations include: 

  • ”We are united in our steadfast belief that the fashion system must change, and it must happen at every level. We are listening to many conversations taking place. These changes have been overdue for a while, and the fallout from coronavirus has forced us all to prioritise the process of rethinking how our industry should function.
  • “We encourage our brands, designers and retailers, who are used to fashion’s fast, unforgiving pace, to slow down. For a long time, there have been too many deliveries and too much merchandise generated. With existing inventory stacking up, designers and retailers must also look at the collections cycle and be very strategic about their products and how and when they intend to sell them.
  • “There is a clear disconnect from when things arrive in-store to when the customer actually needs them. The delivery cadence should shift closer to the season for which it is intended.
  • “Together, we strongly recommend designers focus on no more than two main collections a year. We firmly believe this can provide our talents with the time they need to reconnect to the creativity and craft that makes our field so unique in the first place. A slower pace also offers an opportunity to reduce the stress levels of designers and their teams, which in turn will have a positive effect on the overall wellbeing of the industry.
  • “We understand the commercial need for pre-collections and the need to fulfil the delivery windows of the current pre-collections. However, we recommend that these return 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. When we are able to hold in-person events and showings, we would recommend that these presentations return to the showrooms.
  • “Once this crisis is over and non-virtual events can resume, we also recommend that brands attempt to show during the regular fashion calendar and in one of the global fashion capitals in order to avoid the strain on buyers and journalists traveling constantly. This too has placed tremendous stress on the industry and significantly increased each individual’s carbon footprint.
  • “Sustainability is an important conversation in every industry. Through the creation of less product, with higher levels of creativity and quality, products will be valued and their shelf life will increase. The focus on creativity and quality of products, reduction in travel and focus on sustainability (something we encourage of the entire industry) will increase the consumer’s respect and ultimately their greater enjoyment in the products that we create.
  • “While physical in-person presentations are likely impossible, the fashion councils will nevertheless focus on creating fashion calendars and other formats that will highlight and help to organise the virtual presentations for the spring/summer collections.”

The statement added: “The need to align as a global industry during these times has become more apparent. We will continue to work side-by-side, while each city will develop its own local initiatives. Fashion is a business of creativity and new ideas and difficult times are also ones for innovation. We will work to our industry’s benefit as we reimagine and create, with our members and partners, a successful future.

“We all understand the difficulties that all of you are going through in this devastating time and are here to help you and provide information in any way that we can.”


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Readers' comments (4)

  • This is full of common sense that has been ignored for arguably decades. Don't expect much - if anything - to change.

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  • Online retailers (pure plays) have made it’s living by doing the opposite. Who’s going to stop them. Perhaps the industry should also focus on looking after the supply chain first?

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  • John Alston

    Hey 👋

    Sorry but I could not disagree more with this article & the views expressed.

    Small line, deep buying or extensive line shallow buying.

    It’s all balance, maths on margin and having unique and interesting product customers actually want not reducing their choice.

    They feel very old fashioned and out of touch with the consumer.

    Consumers want newness; fresh products, fresh ideas and progression. That’s what’s happening in their lives and they want it reflected in their lifestyle.

    We may be heading for a recession but recessive thinking will only deal the same fate felt by slow giants fate of legacy bricks & mortar retail.

    Regardless of customer base, they are and always should be the focus in my opinion.

    They days are gone where the industry can be the Dictator. Dictatorships are largely unpopular in the “western world”.

    Our COLLECTIF community prefers a collaborative approach; we run our business with our customer and community at our heart. We use social media, google analytics, surveys, data mining, analysis & customer behaviour mapping. It’s working for us.

    BEFORE COVID-19, NOW and what we have in plan, for NEXT.

    I would say that those whom feel this industry is too fast & stressful should maybe cash out now & retire somewhere nice & hot after lockdown? ;-)

    Sustainability in terms of business in general, fabrics & production are essential; agreed. We are on that journey - not, an over night project.

    However, the big problem here is people thinking this should all be easy; in my opinion.

    At COLLECTIF we design every fabric, source everything button, zip, thread & yarn; every clothing style designed & sampled ourselves. We manufacture in our own factory in Vietnam, with sourcing & sample making in China.

    We manufacture for other brands and retailers US & EU too, with industry disruptive MOQs of 150-300 pcs via our Direct Order business IMPROMUNDI.

    We have diversified to India, Bangladesh, Armenia. Looking at Turkey, SPAIN, Portugal, USA & doing a bit more UK.

    We wholesale at shows like PURE LONDON, JACKET REQUIRED, MAGIC & LONDON EDGE; appointments in our showroom, wholesale online via our platform from stock and forward order.

    We launching on Wholesale marketplaces like NuOrder & JOOR in weeks, to maximise exposure for the product we now have half the time to sell.

    In response to COVID, we are launching a US Retail website (2nd biggest market for us), early June with a Key hire to direct the startup in progress locally.

    Surely in this industry, if you stand still to long or go backwards, then you are dead?

    I agree about a reset on seasons 100%.

    The DFS culture, particularly in the UK of a sale every weekend, IS a killer and not sustainable.

    The drug of discount for brands who have a x5 landed cost to RRP/SSP markup, is hard to kick.

    We are trying though, as I’m sure others everyone else is too. I have seen giants like Macy’s & others starting some fantastic 100% sell through shallow bought trials.

    However, with 6 figures of pieces stockholding in our UK DC & cash being king in this crisis, Discounting has been needed this spring, unfortunately.

    We took our high summer Stock Collection offline, Wholesale and Retail end April; we will clear Spring this bank holiday and then have a cushion to re-launch Summer 1st June after Lockdown; Re-open our flagship store and drive full price sales.

    Our reset will be pushing the Summer sale to the end July/August before launching Trans/Autumn. Clear Autumn Black Friday. Extend Winter till End Jan/Feb and so on.

    We would rather sell Summer Full price when it is HOT outside & Sale when it’s not; same process with Autumn, Winter & Spring.

    Then layers of monthly capsule collections that react to trends on Social, Community & WGSN.

    COVID-19 has made us take 2 steps back & look at our business.

    Same time as being forced to furlough a large % of our 200+ global workforce; full time, part time, zero hours - no one left out; no UK redundancies due to COVID to date. Then we secured a CIBLs loan from Lloyd’s & in process Re-negotiating with our landlords for our 3 london + Brighton stores.

    From Friday 13th March to date, the aim was to survive. Now we aim to utilise every resource available; to thrive.

    The world has changed forever; we have all had to take 2 steps back already. Surely now is the time to evolve, adapt, innovate, excite & move forwards into the “New World”, giving customers what they really want & need.

    Engagement, experience, community, fun!

    Surely that’s what we want too? It’s what I want & over here at COLLECTIF HQ (virtual :-), that’s what we are trying to do.

    Forget “impossible”, “stress”, “stain”?!

    All clothing & fashion is sustainable, if we try to make it is an ethical way, don’t over produce & over buy. Same with all products like the supermarkets.

    That means more styles coming all the time, with low quantities making special things for the special individuals we call our customers.

    That’s more work, yes; when hadn’t it been - What industry is easy? Especially now.

    Reset yes; forwards not backwards.

    Just my opinion.

    Many thanks,

    John Alston

    “Vintage Style Modern Life”

    (MY PERSONAL OPINION, from my experience past & present as Managing Director of Ltd and other brands & retailers in the past - I certainly learnt a lot in my first job working for Julian & Rhona at Jules B)

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  • Have to respectively disagree with the previous comment.

    For decades, I've hearing that customers always want something new and the cold facts are that they don't, at least in Menswear. This line does upset creative types and might not win your friends in the board room, but most consumers buy the same thing - with slight variations - again and again and again. Do brands want to be profitable or want to be clever? You can't be both.

    Our most successful brands are always the ones that barely differ from season to season, whereas the ones that move on too much confuse the customer with the inevitable results.

    In tough times, the consumer sticks to brands what they know and trust.

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