After 2020, will the fashion world be more reasoned?
Whether we like it or not, the health crisis has somewhat slowed down the buying fever that has pushed us to consume more and more for several decades.
- The health crisis has somewhat slowed down the buying fever which pushes us to consume more and more.
- What if 2020 had made us aware of the repercussions of our way of consuming clothing?
- Dinah Sultan, a trendy stylist at Peclers, a creative strategy consulting agency, shed light on 20 Minutes.
What if the year 2020, as dark and anxious as it was, had allowed us to take a little step back in our way of life? In particular on our relationship with fashion, and on this buying fever which pushes us to consume more and more, like insatiable ogres. Since the 1990s, the phenomenon of "fast fashion", to understand "ephemeral fashion", encourages us to constantly renew our wardrobes, to collect "basics" ... To favor quantity over quality, and to close our eyes on working conditions and the devastating environmental repercussions of the textile industry.
This year, the health crisis will have at least allowed us to slow down, and the periods of confinement will have forced us, willy-nilly, to reduce our purchases. As reported by Le Figaro at the end of October, the IFM (Institut Français de la Mode), noted in September a drop of 6.5% in the overall turnover of stores, sites, and clothing chains in France, and forecast a drop between 17 and 23% over the whole year. A fall in the market which had dramatic consequences for certain brands placed them in receivership. But beyond the constraint to spend less, has a certain awareness emerged in the minds of consumers?
Dinah Sultan, a trendy stylist at Peclers, a creative strategy consulting agency for brands in the fashion, beauty, design, and lifestyle sectors, shed light on 20 Minutes. Co-designer of the "Fashion living lab", she looked into the challenges and commitments of "tomorrow's fashion".
To what extent could 2020 have caused a crisis of conscience?
The implications and repercussions of fashion on human and ecological levels have been well known for several years. There was already an awareness but all the while saying "we have time". 2020 has speeded things up in the sense that consumers no longer needed to consume because of the lockdown. They realized that there were a lot of things in their cupboards, like a sort of congestion in the locker rooms. We took the time to store, empty, sort, etc., and to ask ourselves questions about the quantity, value, and use of our products. There was therefore an accelerator in this awareness, and a slowdown in novelty, a consequence of closed stores.
This awareness is therefore more of a practical matter, but what about environmental issues?
This is not at all what changed consumer behavior. This was the case for food, for beauty, there was a real ecological questioning on the products that we eat and that we apply to the skin, but for fashion, for the moment it has less impact. Where there has been a big boom is the second-hand market. Platforms like Vinted, initiatives like Go For Good, or what Auchan has done by installing second-hand corners in its stores ... There there was an awareness, to say that a garment could have several lives. There is a concern for sustainability and ecology in the sense that it avoids producing a new garment.
And on the ready-to-wear brands' side, has that caused any changes?
Not right away, but they understood that something had to be done, at least on the second-hand market. There are real reflections on the issue of seasonality in fashion and how to design the collection upstream. In particular on what is called the “supply chain”, the manufacturing cycle of a product, from the design of the designer to its shelf placement. The big stake of tomorrow is not to send glitter to the consumer but to rework this chain in-depth to improve it as and when. There is a sort of normalization and cleanup work. At the same time, they will return to more direct sales like the Instagram brands Make my lemonade or Maison Cléo, which they discuss directly with their consumers to find out what they really want. If they prefer to develop a bodysuit or pants… It will become more and more precise in the design of collections to meet real needs and to avoid surplus stocks and their destruction.
Are these essential issues for brands?
Today the brand's mission is at the same level as its value. The easiest to get started is really to put some effort into CSR (social and environmental responsibilities). And when it comes to the ecology and carbon footprint of a company, it is a bit late to ask the question. These are reflections that should have been carried out since 2015-2016 when fashion started to heat up a bit.
Those who now engage in it can therefore be suspected of "greenwashing"?
There are a lot of them in fashion! This is normal because we must also show that we are an actor of change. Showing initiatives can be positive, but if we dig in, we see very quickly that it is greenwashing because it is to promote a single initiative to hide 30 bad ones behind… But we must not blame the brands too much directly because that if there is one today, tomorrow there will be maybe two, then three ... Until it becomes an acceptable mark. Where we should have real monitoring is if one day a supervisory committee was set up in the world, a sort of fashion observatory. It would be crazy to be able to "vetiscore" a garment that would classify it in ABCD or E, like what exists in food. But the difference with this field is that we must not forget that fashion is a vector of dreams for the consumer. There is something very exhilarating about buying a new item of clothing. Applying too much negativity on a label can also have a detrimental effect on the consumer by making them feel guilty when the idea is to help them see it a little more clearly. It's very complicated to achieve a perfect balance.
So fashion has gotten out of hand?
Also because the consumer cannot reason with himself. Fashion has always been the dream industry and it has to stay that way because we need to dream and breathe beauty. Besides, we could also look at the decoration, it's not cleaner ... The fashion industry will have a lot of trouble changing the system. Fast fashion has created financial income, employment, and wealth for those who invented the marks but also for suppliers who are behind in some countries that produce fibers or fabrics ... There is huge machinery behind which would be endangered if a new system were to be created.
Despite all this, can we say, however, that we are moving towards a more conscious fashion?
There is a real desire to improve the system and make consumption more conscious. There are a lot of round tables and discussions at major trade shows like Première Vision for example, which are carried out around this. And beyond that, for me, one of the bursts of 2020 is above all the political aspect of fashion. Before, it was a sector that was left relatively quiet, and that belonged to a bubble. Today we are pointing fingers at problems, such as what is happening with the Uyghurs in China. And fashion is also committed, as we saw with the American elections where there were a lot of commitments from brands with very strong messages. The most glaring example is what happened with the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, we have never seen so many international brands, and even luxury brands, that carried a message or an attitude. activist. The same with the LGBTQIA + community, we feel that brands need to position themselves on these subjects. Before it was very consensual, you had to talk to everyone. And besides, it was also very excluding. Two years ago there weren't too many questions about inclusiveness, about political affiliation… Now they are aware that these are major subjects.