Hints of Sustainability at PFW

Are These Sustainability Efforts Credible?

On the last days of Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 24-25, hints of sustainability emerged. Yet, amidst these hopeful murmurs, recent revelations cast a shadow of doubt over the industry’s commitment to genuine change.

Stella McCartney’s fashion show opened with a call to action to save the planet. In the video, Mother Nature sends a message to humanity: “It’s About Fucking Time.” Perhaps gentle words are no longer sufficient to spur the necessary transformation. Indeed, the stark reality of increased pollution rates this year tempers our optimism.

Apparently, Stella McCartney, an environmental activist, operates through sustainable practices. In fact, the media present her as one of the brands more involved in the discussion around sustainability.

However, reports from Business of Fashion unveil staggering figures of unsold inventory weighing heavily on these conglomerates. We quote B.O.F.: “LVMH and Kering are grappling with billions of dollars of unsold inventory.”

Analyzing sustainability hints and related news

Now, let’s compare the two pieces of news in an attempt to understand more about sustainability. In this juxtaposition, a disconcerting dissonance emerges.

LVMH and Kering are the largest conglomerates in the fashion industry. LVMH owns Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Dior, Fendi, Celine, Kenzo and many more. Kering owns Gucci, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, McQueen, Saint Laurent, and more.
Despite both groups having billions of dollars of unsold inventory, they have made countless new samples for the fashion weeks. No one tried to create beautiful presentations with fewer garments. Moreover, they are ready to churn out tons of new clothes and accessories for the Fall/Winter 24-25 season.

In 2019, Stella McCartney signed a deal with LVMH group to accelerate its worldwide development in terms of business and strategy. Before, the designer partnered with the rival conglomerate Kering. So, McCartney stands at the intersection of conflicting narratives.

Can a designer embedded within a behemoth corporation, driven by perpetual growth and overproduction, truly champion sustainability? Stella McCartney’s game recalls the manoeuvres politicians play. Perhaps sustainability in fashion remains a game of optics, a veneer to placate conscientious consumers.

Conclusion: unanswered questions

The hints of sustainability that emerged at Paris Fashion Week appear diluted, if not altogether illusory. The sobering reality of overproduction and the unsolved dilemma of excess inventory force us to confront uncomfortable truths about the industry’s commitment to change.

In conclusion, lingering questions remain with us: What fate awaits the mountains of unsold garments? Will they be incinerated, shipped off to distant shores, or left to languish in forgotten warehouses? And can we truly place our trust in designers who navigate the corridors of power within colossal conglomerates?
The answers to these questions may hold the key to unlocking a more sustainable future for fashion. One grounded not in superficial gestures but in substantive action and genuine accountability.

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Paris Fashion Week FW 24-25

Between Creativity and Unsold Stock Challenges

The journey that began in Milan found its continuation during Paris Fashion Week FW 24-25, where brands grappled with the delicate balance between staying true to their essence and adapting to market demands. While some redefined their identities, others sadly destroyed them (for instance, Ann Demeulemeester and McQueen who followed Balenciaga’s horrors).

Throughout the week, designers started from ordinary clothes, reimagining basic shapes into elevated pieces. The point is that currently elaborated garments are more difficult to sell. Therefore, brands created pieces that are not only visually captivating but also commercially viable.

A few highlights from the Paris Fashion Week FW 24-25

Let’s delve into a few highlights from the Paris Fashion Week FW 24-25:

Finally, Chloé made a triumphant return to its roots, presenting a collection reminiscent of its signature style, featuring fluid chiffon gowns and blouses with a strong sense of boho-chic. In fact, the reference to Karl Lagerfeld was evident, just the nameplate belt felt excessive.

Balmain showed sculptured silhouettes juxtaposed with some wearable pieces. Clothes adorned with maxi grape bunches in the shape of jewels or small handbags. However, in this défilé, we particularly appreciated the choice of middle-aged women in natural face glows. Celebrating beauty beyond age, the brand sent a positive message. Also, these women represent the clients who can actually afford luxury clothing. In fact, the designers target young girls, which is somehow disturbing. Of course, except for a few lucky ones, young girls do not have money for luxury stuff.

The fashion industry seems to have shifted its focus from plus-sized models to middle-aged women. While plus-size models almost disappeared, beautiful middle-aged women walked the runways in stunning elegance. Is this a genuine attempt by the fashion industry to change stereotypes or just another fleeting trend?

Undercover stood out for its poetic portrayal of womanhood. With its clothing dedicated to a single mom, it has been the most poetic show. No music, just a quiet voice in the background. The words, written and read by filmmaker Wim Wenders, told the story of a single mom and her personal journey. Beautiful!

We found it interesting the no-social-media policy of The Row. In fact, they banned phones, inviting the audience to take notes on notebooks they provided. This decision brought back a certain magic, keeping people focused on the show and not on their screens. It allowed attendees to immerse themselves in the experience without distractions. It is a matter of taking time to live the event in full presence. To think and digest. And only after, share. That brings back the “thrill and wait” social media have taken down.

Creativity vs unsold stock challenges

On their Instagram account, Paris Fashion Week shared a quote from Tiziana Cardini, a contributor to “Fashion is a resilient and elastic creature. It adapts and evolves. It will always offer imagination and comfort to even the harshest reality.”

However, amidst the creative fervour and positive strides, the industry faces the harsh reality of unsold inventory, as highlighted by LVMH and Kering’s challenges. This discrepancy raises questions about the sustainability of current practices and the need for innovative solutions to address excess stock.

As the Paris Fashion Week FW 24-25 draws to a close, where is the evolution or adaptability? Do you see any of it in the fashion industry?

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Fashion for Unstable Times

Men’s Fashion Week in an Industry Seeking for Direction

In the past, the concept of fashion for unstable times held a promise of the future. Now, that promise is shrouded in further uncertainty, casting a shadow of disorientation upon an industry that appears adrift.

From Milano, the men’s fashion journey continues in Paris, leaving us to ponder the industry’s quest for new dynamics. In the ever-evolving landscape of the fashion system, the search for direction is more pronounced than ever.

Men’s Milano Fashion Week witnessed a notable return to the classics. However, beyond aesthetics and communication, the undercurrent of turbulence in the industry was tangible.

Fashion industry: a field in profound transformation

Brands are undergoing a thorough reassessment, especially in terms of their structures. Indeed, the fashion world, whether in Milano or Paris, is immersed in a profound transformation. Maybe not even brands comprehend the magnitude of this change. In fact, despite the uncertainty, most of them continue flooding the market with new products, clinging to the notion that quantity begets success.

However, there’s a sense of bewilderment surrounding the industry’s decisions. Take, for instance, the trend of hiring musicians as fashion designers. Yes, we are talking about Pharrell Williams. One cannot help but wonder, what is the message behind appointing a musician as a fashion designer? How does the far-west Vuitton concept align with its traditional narrative?

Among the ambiguity, some designers stand out for their attempts to convey a message through their creations. For instance, Yohji Yamamoto portrays people of a certain age or unique young individual (like Wim Wenders and Hannah O’Neil). It’s as if he’s saying, “This is my audience.” In these subtle nuances lies an attempt to redefine the boundaries of fashion and challenge the conventional norms.

Unstable times: fashion seeking for direction

Whether it’s a return to classics in Milano, avant-garde choices in Paris, or unconventional appointments in the fashion design realm, the industry is in a state of flux. And the search for direction stands out among brands that seem lost.

As we navigate through fashion in unstable times, one thing is clear: change is inevitable. However, the extent of the current change is not yet understood.

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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.

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Beyond our control?

Natural threats and human behaviour

Last Wednesday night, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit eastern Japan, the same region devastated by a powerful quake 11 years ago.

And so my friend, who lives in Fukushima prefecture, texted me: “the trauma comes back again.”

In 2011, a tsunami up to about 40 meters high arrived at the coast within 30 minutes, destroying entire cities, and damaging nuclear power plants in Fukushima.

It was the most severe earthquake in recorded history. I was only 11 years old, but still, I vividly remember that day.
So last week, the same tragic pictures just crossed my mind.
I was terrified. I was scared of what I was watching on television. And I wish it was just under the scope of human control.

100% Man-Made

Boyarovskaya released their digital show for Fall/Winter 2022-2023 during the Paris fashion week.

In the end, it says:

“Nature cannot be controlled, but war can.”

Indeed the video was filmed in a town destroyed by a great earthquake.

A natural disaster is a catastrophe, yet we need to live with it. It kills thousands of people indiscriminately. The power of nature is frightening, intimidating, and out of control.

But what about the war?

Leading to actions

Fashion as a means of communication to send a powerful message

The simple words by Boyarovskaya are straightforward enough for the world today. But they leave such a strong message to all of us.

What we are now watching on television is a 100% man-made tragedy. Something we did not want.

With great respect, they chose to include their message in their digital show. It touches us, makes us think, and leads us to actions.

Only 4 minutes. No words spoken, but it tells so much about what we need to do in a very powerful, yet touching way.

Again, “Nature cannot be controlled, but war can.”
This is the word we need to live up with.


A piece written by Kotono Sakai, a Japanese girl studying history and fashion at Cattolica university in Milan and interning for suite123

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