Business of Fashion

One can tell there’s a fashion world sea change going on when Vogue (UK January 2020) runs a shoot with – gasp – clothing items mixed from past and upcoming seasons. While this is how 99.9% of us humans go about our lives, mixing the old and new rags, it is still Vogue, the bible of the unattainable, and thus something worth looking into.

Year 2019 was in many ways kind of an odd round: on literary front, really nothing massively spectacular (despite the hype around some). Music-wise the same (Lana Del Rey’s album Norman Fucking Rockwell! being a rare exception), politics were crazy to start with and just went further down the rabbit hole towards December, and even Jennifer Lopez broke the internet in a dress that was actually designed some two decades ago.

The only collectively really big, constructive shift was people’s raised awareness about environmental issues. We all hung unto our politicians to get their long-lost shit together at the international climate conference in December, but the whole spectacle fell on its face as the youth of the world looked on, perplexed. We do like to say that the system has to change, that decisions are needed at political level instead of shaming style bloggers for accepting gifted flights to cover the fashion weeks.

Who do you call when the political system is unable to get its arse on gear?

The big oil and other energy dirties have been blamed for so long for the world’s ills that most of us have probably decided to ignore their symbiotic relationship with politics – life, admittedly, is busy enough without sitting down to ruminate over Shell and others on a daily basis. Fashion industry is as big an emitter as the global energy sector yet, shockingly, it enjoys far fewer political hand me downs than many other industries. Therefore it is more nimble to make bold business moves, and more independent to use its marketing machine to properly gild the lily.

The above might only make for a very thin soup as far as theories go (also given that no-one really holds the fashion brands accountable for their pledges), but the past year the fashion industry did own up to its responsibility as one of the major causes for climate change. Admittedly, Chanel agreeing to recycle its elaborate fashion-show sets in the future means shit as long as the fast-fashion chains keep churning out landfill-blocking junk at record speed.

The important thing is that the luxury brands no longer think they are above the problem. In the past, the logic has been that as long as you buy fewer luxury items instead of piling up on cheaper high-street rip-offs, you are inherently more environmentally conscious. Not anymore.

Our entire consumption culture is being challenged.

The King of Luxury Camp, Gucci, announced earlier this year that it will be carbon neutral by 2050. Many other companies from the Kering group have joined this pledge (meanwhile the EU failed to agree to this, just leaving this right f***ing here). The CEO of the Kering Group, François-HenriSalma Hayek’s HusbandPinault, gave the French Vogue (November issue) a lengthy interview, explaining the necessity of the “Fashion Pact” that will see that 100% of energy used for producing Gucci’s campy garments will be renewable by the end of 2020. Pinault goes on about the Kering group finding ways to produce synthetic, more sustainable silk at more affordable prices. About sourcing cashmere more sustainably. About the ethics of leather, and the future of fur. In the French Vogue.

LVMH group didn’t miss a beat and soon after announced that it will ensure traceability of all its raw materials by 2025 and, for good measure, threw in €10 million for safeguarding the Amazon. Big words, though according to the latest study by an environmental organisation Standearth only two major international clothing brands have made commitments that will actually bring them in line with the Paris Agreement goals: Levi Strauss and American Eagle, with Burberry being a close runner-up.

And guess what? ALL aforementioned companies are doing pretty well on the stock-market compared to their competitors. Jumping the climate-wagon (so far) has made excellent business-sense for them, in addition to scoring greenie points in the press.

Coming back to my original point (not sure there was one, tbh): fashion magazines bibles are telling us to consume less when encouraging us to buy more crap is the condition for their very existence. It’s been less than 4 years when Vogue gave the invincible tip for wrapping croissants in an Hermès-scarf so as to chicly transport them home from the boulangerie. Now they are telling us it’s OK to wear something we already have in our closets.

What next? The glossy magazines announcing the arrival of a revolutionary practise called looking after our shoes and clothes instead of tossing them away as soon as a button goes missing? Teaching us to make do and mend things?

Whatever they do I’m perfectly fine with, as long as clothing and accessories will no longer be described as investments. This nonsense will have to stop in the 20s. Yes, you read it here: shoes, handbags, purses, sunglasses, clothes, hats or gloves are not investment pieces.
Not ever are they investments, unless your handbag accrues interest and gives birth to a little matching purse each quarter as dividend.

You want to get investment pieces? Buy stocks.

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