The BFC and CFDA have called for fashion to slow down

In a joint statement, the two leading fashion institutions have highlighted the need for change at all levels in the wake of coronavirus.

by Mahoro Seward
21 May 2020, 11:01am

Marc Jacobs AW20. Photography Mitchell Sams

Long before the coronavirus pandemic came to dominate headlines, the most prominent stream of discourse in fashion was about the need to slow things down. From independent designers straining to keep up with the pace set by goliath houses, to the creative heads of those very brands, and the journalists and buyers endlessly shuttled about the globe, a consensus has long been established that fashion has accelerated to a point we can no longer sustain.

As loud as these calls have been, they don’t seem to have been heard by the suits running the trillion-dollar show. To them, the system of endless drops, far-flung cruise shows and all the rest of it works just fine.

The coronavirus pandemic, though, has placed all bets, all along the line, on hold. With logistical stagnation a universal reality, players at all levels have been taking the time to reflect on just how things got to where they now are. As a result, it looks like major institutional backing for real change may be on its way.

Today, the CFDA and the BFC have issued a joint statement, calling for a slowdown in the industry’s pace in the wake of the pandemic. Noting that the end of the crisis is anything but within sight, it underlines that this period of pause offers “an opportunity to rethink and reset the way in which we all work and show our collections.” Crucially, it acknowledges “the relentlessness of fashion’s unforgiving pace,” with “too many deliveries and too much merchandise generated…. the fashion system must change, and it must happen at every level,” it reads.

Of course, what that change will look like is still subject to speculation -- reimagining the mechanics of such a far-reaching industry is not a task completed overnight. And exactly who the development of this immense strategy is down to remains uncertain. So far, those to propose preliminary roadmaps for fashion’s future include a consortium of independent designers -- Dries Van Noten, Craig Green and Marine Serre among them -- as well as trade publication Business of Fashion.

Still, at a time when uncertainty clouds the careers of those working in fashion, such high-level endorsement from two of the industry’s most prominent governing bodies is needed cause for optimism -- both for the reduction of fashion’s impact on the planet, and for the improved physical and mental wellbeing of fashion workers.