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The BFC and CFDA Join Forces in a Call for Industry Change

A statement released by the British and American trade groups appears to back many of the suggestions put forth by designers and executives to fix what they believe is a broken system.
A Saint Laurent runway show in February | Source: Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images
By
  • Chantal Fernandez
BoF PROFESSIONAL

NEW YORK, United States — The British Fashion Council and the Council for Fashion Designers of America released a joint statement on Thursday, backing recently assembled groups of industry players calling for systemic changes to how fashion operates.

Over the last month, three separate but sometimes overlapping groups of independent designers and executives — one led by Saks Fifth Avenue, one by Dries Van Noten, and one brought together by The Business of Fashionput forth suggestions to make the fashion system more streamlined and profitable. A key focus was resetting the buying, delivery and discounting calendar. One group suggested combining men's and women's shows and staging them twice per year in January and June.

But regional trade groups were notably absent from the conversation. Until now.

“We are united in our steadfast belief that the fashion system must change, and it must happen at every level,” read the statement from the BFC and CFDA. “We are listening to many conversations taking place.”

The statement recommended the industry slow down its pace and produce fewer collections that arrive in stores “closer to the season for which it is intended.” The groups also suggested brands prioritise two collections per year and stop hosting far-flung traveling shows between the main fashion week seasons. And, the trade groups encouraged brands to show on calendar and at one of the fashion capitals to reduce the need for travel.

As momentum is building around some of the shared suggestions, the mega-scale European luxury brands who set the tone and pace for the whole industry have yet to join the call for change. With their own distribution networks and sheer scale, they have fewer incentives to change their ways. Kering's Saint Laurent, for example, said it would show off calendar if and when it decides to present a collection next. However, as established groups such as the CFDA and BFC join the conversation, it's possible that the major brands will do so as well. After all, they still do plenty of business with many of the retailers already involved.

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