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Gucci and Saint Laurent are bucking the trend and striding towards seasonless fashion

Published 29.06.21

During World War II, the “make do and mend” ethos encouraged civilians to be resourceful and recycle everything from furniture to buttons and toothbrushes and of course, clothing.

But now, who on earth would “make do and mend” when clothes are so affordable they can be worn once and discarded?

Fast fashion is not designed to last, however changes are afoot to reduce the fashion industry’s role as one of the world’s biggest polluters. By offering just two seasons, high-end designers are trying to discourage our slavish obsession with the latest trend and address the new normal, an industry transformed by sustainability (and let’s face it sensible economics).

In an effort to drastically minimise our insatiable appetite for fast fashion, luxury fashion houses like Gucci are doing away with seasons and trends by reducing the number of their annual shows from five collections to two. Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, credited the move to the brand’s realisation that five shows a year contributed to excessive consumption and the fickle nature of consumers craving the latest trends. He lamented the idea that the brand’s promotion of seasonal fashion “dominated” and “wounded” nature.

“Above all, we understand we went way too far,” Michele wrote. “Our reckless actions have burned the house we live in. We conceived of ourselves as separated from nature, we felt cunning and almighty.”

Gucci’s decision to downsize its show schedule was announced as a sustainability measure but a sceptic might view the cancellation and combining of costly runway shows as a solely economic response to the coronavirus pandemic. Call it marketing or call it genuine introspection, whatever the reason, the move towards seasonless fashion is an extraordinary win for climate change if it reduces waste and raw material use.

Another global fashion giant, Saint Laurent, is following Gucci’s vision to remake the industry by pushing for seasonless fashion and while designers are taking responsibility for the global economic and environmental crises caused by harmful production and labour practices – it is also up to the individual to address the way we consume fashion more sustainably.

Fast fashion follows luxury fashion. In the iconic scene from the 2006 film, The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly schooled Andy Sachs on the merits of one cerulean sweater. And the conscious, calculated decisions that landed it in her hands. This seminal monologue gave those outside the high fashion bubble their first education into the premise and the power of “trickle-down fashion” – the notion that every item, no matter how cheap or dowdy, has its origins in luxury fashion.

The trickle is powerful, and it can be used for good. With top brands like Gucci making public, actionable commitments to sustainability, soon fast fashion brands will see the benefit in offering clothes that have a longer lifespan because consumers are increasingly buying with a conscience.

When we push away from seasonal fashion, we make room for something so much more exciting – style that’s driven by substance and a strong sense of self. Fashion should also be fun and if we aren’t so constrained by keeping up with trends, individualism can rightfully shine through.

As Yves Saint Laurent famously said, “fashions fade, style is eternal”.

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