Is it goodbye for seasonal wardrobes?

·3-min read
Faced with climate change, as well as the desire to do less harm to the environment, the seasonal wardrobe may soon disappear.

The fashion industry is currently being faced with many challenges, and may be led to end seasonal collections. This is the observation made by several GlobalData analysts, who point not only to the need to move towards more ecological sustainability but also to the fact... that there seem to be no more seasons.

Those who have been able to do a little vacationing this year - not everyone, but almost - will have noticed that the little summer dress entirely covered with flowers and a flounce at the neckline may not have been of much use to them. This year, raincoats and rain boots seem to have replaced skirts, pareos, and other open sandals in many regions. It makes you wonder what the point of a seasonal wardrobe is these days... Maybe there is none, as the experts at GlobalData explain. The data analytics company believes that the elimination of the seasonal wardrobe is "a likely next step" in the fashion industry, for several reasons.

Durable, timeless clothing
As we've seen since the first confinement, many luxury houses have announced their intention to leave the runway calendar aside, pointing to the frenetic pace of fashion with, for some, up to eight shows - and therefore collections - per year. Saint Laurent, Gucci, and Balenciaga are among the houses that have chosen to set their own pace - and coincidentally or not, this has been unanimously accepted by consumers around the world, as evidenced by the latest report from global research platform Lyst.

But even beyond the frantic pace imposed by seasonal - or even micro-seasonal - collections, the environmental issues facing fashion players could lead to the elimination of your seasonal wardrobe. First of all, because of waste and waste management issues, many brands find themselves with stocks they can't sell each season, but also because timeless pieces, in other words essentials or basics that can be worn both winter and summer, are a solution for the fashion industry to reduce its impact on the environment.

"It's clear that consumers are less concerned with the hottest seasonal trend and more concerned with clothes that fit their personal values and aesthetic year-round," says Carmen Bryan, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData. "The shift to a seasonless calendar means a greater reliance on timeless, essential pieces and shorter lead times, which can mean brands are relatively well protected against challenges such as those we've seen in recent years."

Coping with the unpredictable
The health crisis demonstrated in many ways that seasonal wardrobes had become redundant. With successive confinements and the widespread use of telecommuting, seasonal trends quickly fell by the wayside in 2020, with populations around the world favoring homewear and casual clothing throughout this particular time period. This really put a damper on ready-to-wear brands.

"The seasonal calendar is becoming obsolete as the fashion landscape evolves. People are traveling more, the weather is becoming more unpredictable, and we've seen the covid-19 pandemic disrupt the fashion supply chain - leaving brands sitting on billions of dollars of inventory they couldn't move," says Hannah Abdulla, Apparel Correspondent at GlobalData.

Climate change also brings about a major dose of unpredictability. As we have seen, seasons are not what they used to be. Milder winters and rainy summers can also leave brands with large inventories on their hands and weaken their cash flow.

The rise of alternative practices
The pandemic also accelerated the shift to new shopping practices, such as clothing rental or a preference for second hand, which are more responsible and economical. It's further proof that consumers are gradually moving away from trends - or that fashion is indeed an eternal restart - in favor of timeless pieces or basics.

All over the world, people are looking for alternatives to disposable fashion, rejecting at the same time the trends which, by definition, can only be ephemeral. One more reason to think that our seasonal wardrobes will soon be a memory - for better or worse.

Christelle Pellissier

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