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Luxury retailers urge industry to rethink discounting

A consortium of luxury players, including Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Erdem, have joined forces to urge the fashion industry to reconsider its approach to seasonality and discounting after the coronavirus pandemic.

In an open letter, the group calls on the sector to delay end-of-season promotions to January for autumn/winter collections and to July for spring/summer. It also wants to set the full-price autumn/winter selling season from August to January and set spring/summer from February to July, as well as creating a more balanced flow of deliveries throughout the seasons.

The letter reads: “Recently a group of us from across the global fashion industry, from CEOs to buyers and creative directors, came together in a series of conversations with a shared vision; to discuss ways in which our business needs to transform. We agreed that the current environment although challenging, presents an opportunity for a fundamental and welcome change that will simplify our businesses, making them more environmentally and socially sustainable and ultimately align them more closely with customers’ needs. We hope to achieve this by adjusting the seasonality and flow of both womenswear and menswear goods, starting with the autumn/winter 2020 season.”

Signatories include Linda Fargo, senior vice-president of the fashion office at Bergdorf Goodman; Michael Kliger, president of Mytheresa; Mattias Magnusson, CEO of Acne Studios; Sarah Coonan, buying director of Liberty; and Shelley Corkey, fashion director of Brown Thomas. Designers Dries van Noten, Craig Green, Mary Katrantzou and Gabriela Hearst have also signed.

Other initiatives outlined in the letter include reviewing and adapting fashion shows, less travel, less fabric and inventory waste and utilising initiatives like digital showrooms.

Readers' comments (12)

  • About time...but it will have to be put in "Law" for the rest to follow!

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  • Sense at last !
    We have a collective opportunity to Re start our sector , let us not let it slip by !

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  • First price - right price !

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  • I believe you will have to work extremely hard to get Flannels and Frasers to join in with this! They have the Sports Direct mentality unfortunately.

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  • Hear, hear!! Just what the industry needs right now!

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  • A return to real seasonality would go a long way to restore margins and drive higher full price sell through - who can argue with that?

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  • Fingers crossed that this initiative will take root and not just for luxury. Totally makes sense and much needed for fashion to be relevant and sustainable in the broadest sense. Granted that it feels difficult right now given the stock mountains that need to be turned into cash. But I live in hope for the future

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  • In my view , the market decides, always has and always will. Discounts happen for a reason, lack of sales from too much product chasing too few consumers. If brands balance this they have a great business model but need unique product, many premium/luxury brands achieve this as do some high street retailers, such as Reiss. One of the positive things that could emerge from this crisis is a reduction in quantity....

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  • Great theory. Cannot see it working in practise. Pure plays thrive on this disruption.

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  • Eric Musgrave

    A while back, this publication asked leading retailers: "What is the Greatest Need of the Trade?" The answer from a London store operator was as follows: "Less frequent Sales. Legal reduction of the hours of labour." The respondent was Peter Jones (yes, the man who founded the store on Sloane Square). The date of the issue was 5 January 1901 - yes, 119 years ago. So I say "Good luck" to those calling for Sales regulation. The UK fashion industry is hooked like an pathetic addict on discounting and not even COVID-19 will cure it of that.

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