Runway revolution: Is this the end of fashion as we know it?

Runway revolution: Is this the end of fashion as we know it?

Monday, July 06, 2020

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PARIS, France (AFP) — Paris Fashion Week goes online for the first time in its history today, with fashion rocked not just by the coronavirus but by a growing revolt from within the industry.

The virus has brought designers' long-suppressed frustrations with the system and its unforgiving pace bubbling to the surface.

Many are questioning not just the infernal rhythm and environmental impact of five and six collections a year, but whether fashion weeks or even fashion shows still make sense in a digital world.

“I can no longer cope with an industry built on abuse and consumerism, thriving on environmental destruction and perpetuating racial and gender-based injustice,” declared the rising Brazilian creator Francisco Terra, the brains behind the Neith Nyer brand.

He is far from alone. Spanish wunderkind Alejandro Palomo told AFP that he is not sure if costly Paris shows really work for him, while Colombian Esteban Cortazar said he has turned his back on them for now.

The tectonic plates began to shift in April when Saint Laurent designer Anthony Vaccarello said he was pulling out of Paris Fashion Week this year.

From now on the label would “take control of its pace and reshape its schedule,” he said.

Gucci's Alessandro Michele delivered another bombshell in May, slashing his shows from five to two a year, and questioning the whole idea of seasons, on which the fashion calender is built.

The cracks really began to show after several hundred industry players led by Belgian master Dries Van Noten signed an open letter in May arguing for a major overhaul of the industry.

Brands like Chloe, Thom Browne, Y/Project, Lemaire and Alexandre Mattiussi as well as some top-end department stores have since joined the call for “fundamental change that will simplify businesses, making them more environmentally and socially sustainable”.

For others, the fashion show itself is as “outmoded” as the calendar.

However, some top luxury brands are not yet ready for revolution.

Dior CEO Pietro Beccari defended both the calendar and shows, telling AFP that “a live performance is like nothing else. We believe there will always be a place for a live show.”

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