overproduction

The elephant in the room

Overproduction & why the fashion system ignores it

The elephant in the room is a bulky presence that fills every physical space. A dominant companion whose effect we can see in every corner of the planet. The thing is, everyone ignores it, hides it, or pretends not to see it. 

But can the fashion industry make change without addressing its elephant in the room? 

Fashion industry: what is the elephant in the room?

It’s overproduction! An enormous, visible, tangible and destructive elephant. Is the industry aware of it? Fashion insiders, CEOs, fashion designers? And the group of all the new “sustainable labels”? And what about those who promote corporate change? Of course, they are aware. But they still put profit first, not the planet. Even new companies born to spread sustainable messages do not renounce the overproduction/overconsumption pattern. In fact, some deemed changing that system would be too radical, and bosses wouldn’t accept it.

But is it plausible to talk about sustainability regardless of overproduction? No! Of course, not! 

To make it more clear: can brands overproducing goods be sustainable? No, they can’t! It seems obvious!

So, why does every single brand involved in this overproduction system promote its sustainable practices? Marketing is the answer: the purpose is, selling more, feeding the system and their pockets.
And marketing takes the shape of greenwashing or social washing in order to show a clean face engaging with people. 

Specifically, are top brands and new green companies bringing real innovation? Are they doing the right thing with their sustainable marketing strategies? No, they simply found a new way, an updated way, to make money!

And so, in the end, it all boils down to this point: can the fashion industry attempt to make a change without addressing the elephant in the room? No! Of course, not! Indeed, the industry is far from changing for the better.

Cultural change

Between utopia and feasibility

Are we ready for cultural change? The real one, we mean. When it comes to sustainability, do we believe in all the marketing bullshit that flooded communication lately? Or are we open to change for real? Ready to pick this opportunity up and make something better beyond the facades

People are bombarded with deceiving information: 
“We are sustainable because we recycle garments!”
“We use milk, coconut or whatever fibres.” 
“Hey, we have a conscious section in our store!”
“There’s a sustainable selection on our e-shop.”
“And we are the ones who do it best because we plant trees!”

Forget all that! Even the ‘plant a tree’ claim is proven misleading. Indeed, all these messages have the sole purpose of making people over-consume. As a matter of fact, not a single company has changed their overproduction pattern.

On the one hand, this is marketing, what brands need to say in order to show a clean face. But, on the other, we can find alternative reports and explorations that dig the truth out. Are we open to reading those reports? Understand how things really are? And, therefore, start questioning? 

Of course, sustainability is a path to pursue with conviction and self-commitment, despite all the difficulties, misleading messages, and smoke and mirrors. 

But is the effort worth it? Or, as many people with whom we exchange thoughts tell us, sustainability is just one of those beautiful utopias! To sell, one must think only of selling more. That is what companies have to do. And people, for their part, have to buy whatever product. 

So, in the context of trade, specifically in the fashion field, is sustainability a utopia or is it feasible? What’s your viewpoint on this?

Are you open to cultural change? We would love to hear your thoughts. 
Drop us an email, WhatsApp, or comment here below!

Fall/Winter 23 fashion shows: one striking commonality

Is it still about hundreds of outfits at each fashion show?

Fall/Winter 23 fashion shows moved from New York, London, Milano, and Paris; now waiting for Tokyo.

All the brands showed their new collections in different towns. But there is something that connects each brand, one striking commonality: hundreds of new outfits at every fashion show. Every single season, the fashion narrative repeats itself. Undeterred.

Fall/Winter 23 trends

Hyper-feminine or androgynous style. Well-defined silhouettes, knit dresses, and maxi coats. Black & white, mixed with vibrant colours: red, yellow, green. And touches of gold, too. Also, precious embroideries enriched the garments.

Above all, designers tried to imbue a sense of timelessness in their clothes. Which, from a sustainable perspective, makes sense. And a distinctive quality as if they needed to reposition in their higher market segment, sweeping up the confusion that made everything look the same.

So, quality and timelessness. But is it enough to trace a significant shift? It seems brands keep on celebrating the power of their corporations-owned businesses. Are they satisfied? Or can they see the big picture?

Always from that same sustainable perspective, since all Maisons have people in charge of sustainable practices, why do brands show so many pieces?

Do we still need hundreds of outfits to understand a collection?

Fashion & sustainability

Given the state of our planet, which is full to the brim of garbage, any kind of it, including tons of fashion waste polluting lands and waters, perhaps it was time to make a real change.

Hundreds of new outfits every season would be sustainable as trillions of new electric cars produced to replace the existing ones. A joke! If we follow this reasoning, the logic of green capitalism, we fail.

Other than just making new clothes, modern fashion design should have an evolved purpose: a commitment towards sustainability. Unsurprisingly, there was no trace of it from the Fall/Winter 23 fashion shows.

In fact, there’s no understanding and no real interest in supporting sustainability.

Notes on the Paris Fashion Week 2023

An air of restoration, not evolution

The Paris Fashion Week 2023 showed precise, constructed tailoring and well-defined silhouettes. Perhaps brands aimed to provide a tangible sense of quality to reclaim their meaning. Or re-establish a higher positioning in an overproduction industry that left people baffled and unable to understand the difference between luxury to low brands.

Of course, if you were not interested in the star parade, avoiding the tedious crawling before, during and after the shows seemed impossible. Now, that is the goal. Unfortunately, no chance to talk about clothes, just clothes, without necessarily talking about the faces.

Paris fashion Week 23: some highlights

All about silhouettes and dark atmosphere at Dior and Saint Laurent: I line at Dior – very vintage. The 80s-inspired triangle shape with big hyper-constructed shoulders at Saint Laurent.
Balmain: sculptural designs with bows and pearls everywhere.
Chloé: less poor nomadic, still bohemian but more refined. Such a great inspiration, the painter Artemisia Gentileschi! The medieval theme has resulted in wearable clothes – more for real life than for Instagram. Here, we want to underline what the designer, Gabriela Hearst, said: “I like it that nothing is gimmicky. They’re not clothes for Instagram: I’m tired of working for Zuckerberg all the time – like, where’s my check?

Can you see the negative impact of social media on fashion? Now, designers make their clothes for Instagram, not for real life.

Givenchy: tailored black gowns with some touch of colours.
Balenciaga: for a brand that staked everything on marketing rather than clothes, this show seemed like an attempt to clean its image after a catastrophic communication campaign. 
Miyake: weaving rhythm, shape, slowness and movement. Beautiful!
Yohji Yamamoto: always a world apart, with a touch of colour this time!
Valentino: a 90s reminiscence for a black tie elegance with coloured maxi coats.

A lot of basics, that doesn’t mean banal. More wearable clothes, in general.
But do we still need hundreds of outfits to understand a collection? Aren’t 30 or 40 enough? 

However, rather than just referring to what we liked or not, we want to share two general thoughts about Paris Fashion Week 2023, reasoning we can extend to the whole fashion month.

Fashion journalism & fashion weeks

If you turn to fashion journalists expecting honest feedback and review about the collections, forget it. Indeed, fashion journalists do not express their viewpoints. They simply report the designers’ ideas and talk about celebrities, but they do not add any professional perspective. No pondering, which you may agree or disagree with, but still would generate a discussion, sharing some value. What they do looks like a report cut out for Instagram. So, everything seems flat.

In a hyper-consumerist and wasteful field as the fashion industry, the mission now is to do something different. Following the rules of what the fashion industry has done so far, and still commenting on the status quo, will lead to nothing valuable. In the end, the status quo is what designers showed.

Is sustainable fashion elitist? BOF questions

Misunderstanding sustainability or a manipulated behaviour

In a recent post, Business of Fashion raised the question: is sustainable fashion elitist?

Earlier, a fashion writer, Derek Guy, tweeted his thoughts about menswear, inviting his audience to “buy less, buy better”, considering quality pieces over fast fashion.
Well, we agree! But this post sparked controversy: many said sustainable fashion is elitist because most people cannot afford luxury clothes.

Surely we cannot deny that sustainable materials plus production chains that give proper wages to their workers cannot provide cheap products.

But let’s go through some points:

• cheap clothes and disposable fashion are not sustainable!
They offer an easy-to-connect narrative, but they aren’t sustainable. Not only do they damage the environment, but need an underpaid workforce to thrive.
• luxury doesn’t mean sustainable! Indeed, fast fashion and most “luxury” brands are two faces of the same coin. They both share an overproduction pattern based on people and planet exploitation.
• brands that call themselves sustainable but are distributed everywhere, so mass-produced, aren’t sustainable.

Download “The sustainability basics” here!

Education, not just money

Mindful consumption is one of the building blocks of a modern lifestyle, and it is a matter of education, which not necessarily rich people have! The conversation on sustainability is not about inducing low incomes to stop consumption but helping them develop better habits. On the contrary, high incomes must reduce their purchases drastically because their lifestyle’s impact is much higher.

Sustainability is not just about shopping. It’s a lifestyle choice in respect of nature, and people and workers’ rights. A necessity in the face of climate change!

It is tricky to say what is sustainable and what is not. So, the fashion industry can force brands to stick to specific regulations, making things clear to consumers. But, in the end, each individual must learn and become a conscious consumer. Nothing happens on one side only.

How can we explain this complex situation?

We live in a consumer society where everything revolves around consumption. People overconsume at the expense of other human beings and the planet as if it is the only reason for living. Of course, many cannot afford expensive items. But vintage represents a sustainable and circular option. Also, you can find up-cycled clothes in every price range.

So, is sustainable fashion elitist? And why people prefer to buy fast fashion? A quote by Upton Sinclair gives a perfect insight:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Upton Sinclair

Milano Fashion Week 2023

Fall/Winter 23: between reality, wearability and confusion

Milano Fashion Week 2023 shows a fashion recovered from Balenciagitis! The extremely contagious phenomenon that has affected almost every designer so far – seems gone! And finally, brands looked in better shape. However, the number of outfits presented in every single fashion show underlined the blindness of the fashion system towards climate emergency.

Highlights from Milano Fashion Week 23

Gucci: a lot of everything and too much confusion in da house. This show transitions from Alessandro Michele, who destroyed Maison’s heritage in favour of a clownish style, to the new designer, Sabato Sarno, whose first collection will see the light in September. Though waiting for the official handover, perhaps it made sense to show 30 archive clothing pieces mixed with accessories. All that confusion from a Maison like Gucci was nonsense.

Milano Fashion Week 23

Prada: the collection focused on reality, with well-balanced silhouettes and beautiful origami decorations. Indeed, wearable clothes with a purpose, like the nurse dress, had the intent to offer uniforms for daily life. But what about BOF’s title? “A plea for compassion at Prada.” Talking about compassion for a fashion show seems a stretch. Compassion for what? By the way, we still wonder if Miuccia needs Raf Simons. She can do better than stitching a logo onto a skirt.

Dolce & Gabbana: so many deshabille looks gave the impression of an underwear show. However, when the more “habillé” outfits came out, we finally could see some of the Dolce & Gabbana original designs. Indeed, this one was much better than their latest fashion shows.

Bottega Veneta: precise tailoring cuts highlighted an image of quality and clean elegance. Beautiful textured fabrics gave a sense of unexpectedness. But maybe too many themes make you lose attention.

What do all the brands have in common?

Apart from the circus of most participants at Milano Fashion Week 2023 with zero idea of style or elegance and some indigestible starlets. Still, everyone showed trillions of outfits! They persist on that. Why? Nobody is slowing down. No one hits the brake, creating and suggesting an idea of style and lifestyle in tune with the current times.
The fashion industry (as our economic system) thrives on an overproduction pattern. Even if the world is melting down, no one cares to make a change!

When will you start sales? Never!

Sales and sustainability don’t play well together. Here’s why!

When people ask: when will you start sales? – We reply: never. No sales here! Buy less but better over the season!
And it’s easy to understand the point. Other than an illusory short-term fix, sales don’t solve any problem. Intentionally neglecting the big picture, they contribute to exacerbating the exploitative system.

The need to change seems a shared belief. And it’s interesting to hear people in the fashion industry and consumers, too, talking about the urgency of it.

After all, it’s nice to keep playing the same game expecting something to change! Isn’t it?

The un-sustainability of sales

We all participate in the exploitation game traced by an economic system that led the world to destruction. But we just prefer to ignore it.

Flooded by overproduction, the market is exploding. And the majority of these garments are made by people who cannot afford to cover their basic needs. Fashion production is so excessive that it has a tremendous impact on the planet in terms of carbon emissions, waste and labour abuse. Retailers, for their part, inflate prices to get ready for the question: “When will you start sales?”
This is not sustainable. So it’s time to make different choices, even if unpopular.

The sustainable solution

If everyone had a proper wage, we wouldn’t feel the need to lower prices more and more. A practice that wiped out quality standards. Clothing and accessories would have a more reasonable price range throughout the year. “Less but better” would be the solution. Sustainable fashion, indeed!

But the news says retailers are optimistic. Optimistic? For what? Is a bargain worth a burning planet?

As a small retailer operating for over 17 years, we don’t want to be part of this global exploitation. Indeed we chose to cut the quantity we used to buy. Our fashion selection is essential, in a limited number of pieces, plus a made-to-order service. That is to grant unicity and be as much as possible sustainable.

There’s a brilliant quote we found on the web:

“We ignore truths for temporary happiness.”

Unknown

Sales are a way to ignore the truth. But difficult moments need radical choices.
So why don’t you stop being part of this game?

The anachronism of sales in a collapsing world

Markdowns, sales and sustainability

In a collapsing world, the anachronism of sales, expression of a system of overproduction and excessive waste, should raise eyebrows. Indeed markdowns are a short-term win inadequate to the current situation. In the view of making fashion a sustainable industry, aggressive discounts and sales aren’t a consistent plan.

Overproduction is the cause. Producing too many clothes doesn’t make sense anymore. Furthermore, a system that needs constant discounts to push people to purchase more than they need is a rotten system. Overproduction and overconsumption: one triggers the other. But if we want to make fashion sustainable, we should break this pattern.

Sales for high-income

They still rely on overconsumption and also markdowns to satisfy their need for novelty. In fact, they have learned nothing from the latest events. Therefore, the conclusion is that they simply don’t care about the impact their actions have on the planet. So, fashion brands throw the bait, and those people buy whatever comes out to show their higher status.

Low-income consumers

For lower-income consumers, the matter is different, but the push to overconsume is the same. Indeed, affordable prices give the illusion of richness. And rather than shopping for quality vintage or “less but better” clothing, they shop for discounted items. Feeding up the throwaway culture that thrives thanks to unaware people.

Most importantly, there is an excessive supply, too much of everything, so high and low spenders don’t value the craft work anymore, the art of making quality clothes. There’s no understanding of this process. Therefore the masses think garments should be cheap and disposable.

The anachronism of sales

It’s impossible to match what needs to be done to keep the planet habitable and what the economic system (capitalism) needs to preserve itself. The choice is one or the other.

Although sales are an anachronistic expression of a system that failed, the cycle restarts happily season by season. No matter if the world is on the brink of collapse.

Fashion brands, retailers and consumers are not interested in having a positive impact and making a change. If the fashion industry doesn’t change, most consumers aren’t interested in doing so either.

So people, enjoy your winter sales! Your temporary illusion of joy is served this season again!

2022: a year in fashion

Looking back at 2022, it seems that this year in fashion went by without any tangible sign of change. Indeed, retracing the events and analysing how brands run their businesses, everyone went happily back to normal.

Fashion advertising

Advertising released catchy stories creating a bubble which depicted a universe disconnected from reality. Over the 80s and 90s, the context promoted superstars, but now the ostentation is pointless and not appealing.
As regards marketing, forget sustainability, it’s all about greenwashing.

2022 in fashion design

From a design viewpoint, less but better was supposed to be the guiding principle to help the industry move forward. A clean and more focused fresh restart after the pandemic. But it seems that message has not been taken seriously by fashion brands. Perhaps it was something nice to say during a tiring moment, a way to move with the flow. Indeed, we witnessed a setback during the last fashion shows.

Furthermore, now that celebrations and parties are back, sequins and cheap fabrics are everywhere, again. Just looking at the pictures on social media or advertising on tv, the poor quality of the materials is the first thing you notice!

There’s no escape! The imperative of cheap clothing, accessible products that give the illusion of richness, is still very strong.

Fashion industry in 2022

Likewise, fashion companies have set up no measures to reduce the impact on the environment. Also, considering working conditions, we are far from giving workers decent wages.

From luxury brands to fast fashion, the rules are almost the same. And the difference between one or the other segment is just a matter of spending power. By the way, fashion is in the hands of finance, big groups pursuing perpetual growth. Therefore, overproduction which in turn fosters overconsumption. And, this toxic practice is always at the heart of the fashion business.
The industry is immersed in a consumerist culture exploiting people and the planet without no understanding of the scale of destruction it carries around. And no will to change.

2022, has been another tough year in fashion.
Throughout the year, we wrote a lot about the need for a different way of operating the fashion business, but perhaps it was naive to expect it for real.

However, we’ll keep working in fashion, searching for quality, good design and uniqueness. Only what really counts, and in limited quantities.

#formodernhumans

Black Friday? Buy nothing!

Why say no to Black Friday

Here we go again: Black Friday is back, and we urge you to buy nothing! Yes, we are still at this point. That is where the matter rests: filling up the world with rubbish products.
Even though our economic system failed, and the effects are visible, most people ignore it. And they do not realise we cannot suffer the consequence of mindless shopping behaviours anymore.

Black Friday: the chain system

Manufacturers increase the production of poor-quality goods. Retailers, in turn, order more of them in order to satisfy their customers’ compulsive desire for novelties.
Indeed, that is capitalism: overproduction, which leads to unnecessary overconsumption. And all this happens by exploiting workers and the planet. In other words, those who pay the true cost of these heavy discounts with no fair wages, tons of waste, gas emissions and pollution.

buy nothing

Why should we care?

The point is this: we failed the 1.5-degree target for carbon emission. One of the biggest reasons is that we consume too much. How is it not clear yet? So we have only one possibility: to reduce our consumption drastically. And look, that is what sustainable consumption means! It’s not just about purchasing sustainable products but reducing the goods we buy, consume and throw away.

What can we do? Buy nothing!

Eventually, excessive consumerism is destroying the world. And massive sales aren’t consistent with a thoughtful lifestyle. So we need to get rid of this toxic culture. You know what? No change will ever come from corporations or governments. The system won’t change. But we can change and educate ourselves. Because with our ideas and wallet, we promote the world we want. Also, lower turnovers would be the only language corporations would listen to.

Modern humans are conscious consumers. “Less stuff, more meaning” is our guiding principle. Use this day to spend time with your family or your beloved ones. Read books, more books! Listen to music! But do not contribute to a system that leads to destruction.

What can you do? Buy nothing!