Transforming The Fashion Industry? Dries Van Noten Has a Plan for That

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There’s been a lot of talk about how to fix fashion and make the industry more sustainable, but much like the weather, it’s too often a topic that generates much discussion and comparatively little action. Dries van Noten—who might just be the Elizabeth Warren of the fashion industry—is hoping to change that.

Van Noten, Altuzarra CEO Shira Sue Carmi, and Lane Crawford president Andrew Keith recently organized a series of Zoom brainstorms with industry heavy hitters. The fruits of those conversations can be seen in an open letter signed by many familiar industry names—including designers like Gabriela Hearst, Erdem Moralioglu, Joseph Altuzarra, Tory Burch, Craig Green, and Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez—and posted online yesterday. In it, the signees propose a plan that would “transform” the way the industry works, something that has become even more urgent given the economic impact wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under their proposal, the current sales seasons would shift, with fall collections selling from August to January and spring collections from February to July. Discounting would only occur at the end of those periods, which would help ensure that the full-price selling season lasts longer than it currently does.

The letter also takes sustainability into account, promising less fabric waste and “unnecessary inventory,” less travel, the use of digital showrooms, and changes to fashion shows. “We agreed that the current environment, although challenging, presents an opportunity for a fundamental and welcome change that will simplify our businesses,” the group states, “making them more environmentally and socially sustainable and ultimately aligning them more closely with customers’ needs.”

You can read the full letter here and see the list of those who have signed on here.

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