Fashion says it gives a shit, we geddit. The greenwashing chorus has reached epic proportions with the majority of brands saying how much they care about the *insert - environment/climatechange/sustainability/recycling/ethical/everything - here*.
The latest round of men’s fashion weeks and trade shows were full of it, but it all feels like tinkering. Fashion brands and companies have done most of the easy and cosmetic cost-saving measures. The difficult and expensive bits will be ignored or pushed onto the back burner unless they are forced to, and this is why legislation is so important. It creates a minimum and also a level playing field for all. It also means, as a consumer, you can be assured that these things should and would be adhered to and what the law is when it comes to these topics. It is a bit Nanny State, but unfortunately it’s the only way to make everybody change and conform. Just look at the tax on plastic bags and also the minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland, it changes behaviours, for the better. Taxes and laws force change and post-Brexit legislation needs to be green focused.
In June 2019, The Environmental Audit Committee published the Government Response to the ‘Fixing Fashion Report: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability’. The report published in February 2019 called on the Government to end the era of throwaway fashion through wide-ranging recommendations covering environmental and labour market practices. All of which were rejected.
Environmental Audit Committee Chair Mary Creagh MP - she has since lost her Labour Wakefield seat to Conservative candidate Imran Khan - said at the time: “Fashion producers should be forced to clear up the mountains of waste they create. The Government has rejected our call, demonstrating that it is content to tolerate practices that trash the environment and exploit workers despite having just committed to net zero emission targets.
“The Government is out of step with the public who are shocked by the fact that we are sending 300,000 tonnes of clothes a year to incineration or landfill. Ministers have failed to recognise that urgent action must be taken to change the fast fashion business model which produces cheap clothes that cost the earth.”
On workers’ rights Mary Creagh said: “We presented the Government with the evidence that it has failed to stop garment workers in this country being criminally underpaid, despite its claim that the number of national minimum wage inspectors has increased.
“The public has a right to know that the clothes they buy are not produced by children or forced labour, however the Government hasn’t accepted our recommendations on the Modern Slavery Act to force fashion retailers to increase transparency in their supply chains.”
The report recommended a new ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ (EPR) scheme to reduce textile waste with a one penny charge per garment on producers. No detail on when EPR scheme for textiles will be introduced; consultation could run as late as 2025. Ban on incinerating or landfilling unsold stock that can be reused or recycled. Rejected. Government considers positive approaches are required to find outlets for waste textiles rather than simply imposing a landfill ban. Mandatory environmental targets for fashion retailers with a turnover above £36 million. Not accepted. Government points to environmental savings made by a voluntary industry-led programme but fails to address evidence from WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) that the impact of increased volumes of clothing being sold outweighs efficiency savings made on carbon and water.
The fashion industry must come together to set out their blueprint for a net zero emissions world, reducing their carbon consumption back to 1990 levels. Not accepted. Government points to support for the voluntary Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), co-ordinated by WRAP with the industry working towards targets to reduce carbon emissions, water and waste. The scheme should reward fashion companies that design products with lower environmental impacts and penalise those that do not. Not accepted. Govt will focus on tax on single-use plastic in packaging, not clothing. The report called on the Government to use the tax system to shift the balance of incentives in favour of reuse, repair and recycling to support responsible fashion companies. Not accepted.
The rejections go on. The report made 18 recommendations covering environmental and labour practices. Many are these are common sense and could be the catalyst for big changes. Relying on voluntary actions is slower and is harder to measure.
Somebody needs to pick up the mantle from Creagh and force this through a post-Brexit parliament. If the government won’t even accept even one penny on each item sold to make the producer more responsible for the end of life of a garment then it feels like they are deaf to all suggestions until we all start to shout. Creagh MP, told The Industry’s inaugural ‘Fashion Futures Forum’ in Nov. 2018. “Fashion is the third biggest industry in the world after cars and electronics. If it carries on the way it’s growing we just won’t have enough planetary resources.”
It’s Copenhagen Fashion Week, this week, and they are trying to make it the go-to destination for sustainable fashion. “Highly ambitious goals are required to leverage the influence and impact of Copenhagen Fashion Week” said CEO, Cecilie Thorsmark. It has launched an action plan requiring participating brands to meet minimum sustainability requirements by 2023. If the brands don’t make the environmental cut then they won’t be eligible to show. There is a list of 17 standards to meet. Some examples are pledging not to destroy unsold clothes, using at least 50% certified, organic, up-cycled or recycled textiles in all collections, using only sustainable packaging and zero-waste set designs for shows.
“All industry players – including fashion weeks – have to be accountable for their actions and be willing to change the way business is done. The timeframe for averting the devastating effects of climate change on the planet and people is less than a decade, and we’re already witnessing its catastrophic impacts today. Put simply, there can be no status quo,” said Thorsmark.
The ‘Sustainability Action Plan 2020-2022’ presents how the event will transition to becoming more sustainable, for example by reducing its climate impact by 50% and rethinking waste systems in all aspects of event production, with zero waste as the goal by 2022. Copenhagen is looking at every little detail, they say they will always 'prioritise' selecting sustainable options for supplies, including organic, vegetarian and preferably locally sourced food and snacks, sustainable beverages, no single-use plastic cutlery, straws or tableware, the most environmentally friendly buses available and electric cars. They have stopped using goodie bags and stopped producing new seasonal staff uniforms.
Copenhagen Fashion Week’s own operations have been climate compensated and they support two Verified Carbon Standard and Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance Gold Level projects through Rensti, respectively tree planting (Tist) and forest conservation (Kariba). They have offset the flights and hotel accommodation of Copenhagen Fashion Week’s invited international guests, their official opening dinner, the press busses (including the organic food and beverages served on the buses), logo stickers for cars and they run a climate-neutral website.
The Scandinavians are leaders here, but other fashion weeks will quickly follow suit. As for fashion businesses, no business wants to be wasteful, it’s a cost saving to be more efficient, but the easy stuff has been done. It’s time to get hardcore and only governments will have the power. The law is the law. When standards are defined in law then there is a understandable definite. Consumers won’t trust anything else.
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The past few years have given us so many trends, which, for the most part, have died as quickly as you can say supreme dabbing fidget spinner. Although there are some that seem to be everlasting, such as normcore and climate campaigns, there are so many others that are doomed to die in 2020 and beyond.
Left - Looking mint! Robyn Lynch SS20 from #LFWM
Looking forward to this new roaring decade, we look to uncover which are the top trends set to last well into the 2020s:
Say goodbye to millennial pink. The colour was first seen in 2011, in the famous Celine collection and since exploded. It can now be seen everywhere from handbags and shoes to interiors and technology.
However, the trend forecaster WGSN has predicted a new colour will take over in 2020, the pastel green shade ‘neo mint’. The reason that this colour is predicted to be so popular is due to its veracity; ‘it seemed to open the doors for any colour to be popular among both genders, and neo mint has the softness that millennial pink had’ WGSN describes ‘it can be translated into any type of design.’
A study on gaming behaviour by the digital association Bitkom shows how big of a trend the activity was in 2019. ‘Of the 1,224 people surveyed aged 16 and over, almost half are involved in video games - regardless of gender. Thus 45% of men and 41% of women play video games’.
The huge popularity of video games makes it a trend that is set to last well into the next few decades. While the traditional controller games are likely to be replaced to those accessible on mobile devices like online slots games.
In the past few years, the fashion environment has been seen to be embracing gender fluidity. Not only have there been some stunning gender-fluid red carpet looks, but fashion brands themselves are offering a growing range of nongendered items.
This is a trend set to grow hugely in the coming decade; the climate around it perfect for designers to play with, colours, silhouette and materials.
The past few decades have seen the boom and subsequent rebellion against the fast fashion industry. With 2020 set to be the decade of climate awareness, it really is no surprise that fast fashion brands are set to take a hit.
Trends have been forecast to reflect this growing awareness by moving into the prioritisation of longevity over instant access. Meaning that both vintage, ethical, and top quality outlets are predicted to thrive over the coming decade.
The past decade saw the explosion of the concept of wellness, the industry itself became a big market player and the increased conversation about mental health is set to keep growing in the 2020s.
Wellness is set to grow in many different areas, from the adoption of mindful practices by businesses to the increase of apps and physical activities.
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We’re definitely not going no frills for the AW20 season. Designers from Stefan Cooke to Louis Vuitton to JW Anderson showed their own take on the male waist frill, or peplum, and it looked good.
Left - Stefan Cooke AW20 at LFWM
Originating from the Greek word for tunic, Stefan Cooke's peplum looked like a pleated micro kilt, while Virgil Abloh at LV went full on evening ruffle. JW Anderson has always liked a frill and his were low on the hips, elongating the body.
So there you are, it's official, hips are to not be square and there's no such thing as a cheap frill!!!!
Below Left - Louis Vuitton AW20
Below - JW Anderson AW20
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News in, Jigsaw is closing its Bluebird concept. After 15 years, the majority of those spent at the quiet end of the Kings Road in Chelsea, it recently moved more central to the prime site of the refurbished ‘Carriage Hall’ on Covent Garden’s Floral Street.
Left - Inside Jigsaw's Shop At Bluebird, Carriage Hall, Floral Street closing this week
Named after the art-deco car garage it was once housed in, it relocated in May 2018 and was part of the landlord Capco’s relaunch of Floral Street alongside the first central London outpost of Petersham Nurseries.
Stocking a mix of designer labels and maison objets, after just over 18 months in this location, The Shop at Bluebird, to give it its full title, is closing its doors for good this week.
A concept store without a concept, its short spell on Floral Street clearly illustrates how a once thriving, premium fashion street in a central location is struggling to pull in the shoppers. The store will turn into a larger Jigsaw store format.
Right - Discrete sign advertising the brands on Floral Street
Floral Street, a charming cobbled street just off the busy James Street, has been a fashion destination since the late 1970s. A pioneer of the area, Paul Smith opened his first store in London at 44 Floral Street in 1979. Over the next 20 years, Floral Street became one of the coolest fashion streets in London. Agnès B, Nicole Farhi, Jones, a cult designer menswear retailer, and Jigsaw Menswear were just some of the stores to make this street blossom. It’s slightly off-the-main-drag location was part of its charm.
Today, many tourists and shoppers walk straight past to the busy market area with its plethora of beauty brands or upwards to the more high-street Long Acre. Peer down Floral Street and it doesn’t look like much is there.
Floral Street isn’t alone, the same thing has happened to South Molton Street in Mayfair. On a map they geographically look as central and in the mix as anything else, but they, seemingly, get so easily passed by. Since the millennium these streets have gradually lost their appeal and declined.
Even Browns, the main pull of South Molton Street is moving. It has occupied its collection of small stores since 1970 and is now moving out. Running from Bond Street Tube station, on the corner of Oxford Street, diagonally down towards Brook Street, South Molton Street has long been a stylish cut through. Today, it has become more synonymous with people giving out free mini samples of soap than chic retail destination.
Browns is closing its collection of awkward stores to move around to a new, singular location on Brook Street. Now owned by online giant Farfetch, Brown’s new store will open this summer in time to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
While not being able to comment on the reason they are moving out, Holli Rogers, CEO of Browns and CFO of Farfetch, says “it really is telling that we found this incredible location to be our new home as we also look to celebrate our 50th anniversary. It was important that we stayed in the heart of Mayfair bringing our clients on this exciting journey, whilst honouring the path we’ve been on and looking to the future of Browns as a pioneer of luxury multi-brand retail with a technology viewpoint. Being in one dedicated space, we are excited to be able to offer a vital and engaging customer experience that draws on the store of the future technology whilst also playing homage to the history and story of both the location and fundamentally Browns.”
Left - Paul Smith's original London shop opened in 1979
So what will become of South Molton Street as even more empty shops pile up? Landlord Grosvenor is proposing investment in a ‘South Molton Triangle’ as the delayed Elizabeth Line finally opens in summer 2021 bringing many hundreds of thousands of more people into the area. But, they’ll need to entice them to venture down South Molton Street and not lose them to Oxford Street.
Right - Landlord advertising Kent & Curwen's Floral Street on the busier James Street
Bounded by Davies Street, Brook Street and South Molton Street and well-known as the home of Grays Antiques Market, this part of Mayfair was always a pedestrianised break from busy Oxford Street.
Grosvenor launched a public consultation in the summer of 2018, no doubt expecting the new underground station and line to be finished sooner. Simon Harding-Roots, executive director, Grosvenor Britain and Ireland, said at the time, “Our proposals are at a very early stage and we want to encourage feedback on how new investment could best serve the community above and beyond the opportunity to better manage increased pedestrian numbers. It is important to us that local voices are incorporated into the planning submission we will ultimately make.”
“The West End is currently ill-equipped to cope with the levels of pedestrian traffic we already see every day, let alone the arrival of thousands of extra visitors expected from the Elizabeth Line. Many of Mayfair’s pavements are too narrow, routes were built for a different era and, perhaps counter intuitively, there are not enough services for those living in and visiting the area.
“We recognise the potential of the South Molton Triangle to address a number of the issues the local community faces. By proposing new investment here, we will be able to better protect and enhance the character and simple enjoyment of living and working in one of the most desirable places in London and the West End.”
Right - Glossier beauty pop-up open until February 9th
These areas need more than simply people management, new pavements and street furniture and it feels like landlords, Capco and Grosvenor, have been focusing on larger and juicer parts of their estates rather than these streets which are more on a Victorian and Georgian scale. At the same time streets like Chiltern Street and areas like Coal Drops Yard have developed and are doing what these locations used to do.
The American beauty brand Glossier recently opened a pop-up on Floral Street, open until February 9th, 2020.
These forgotten about fashion streets were once a destination for those looking for the new cool. Being surrounded by hugely popular shopping areas, there is no reason why they can’t return to this.
These streets need to find a new reason to be and then channel people accordingly. They need to work out and provide what is cool in 2020.
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Are your shoulders boring and natural sized? Yes? Then you need to start thinking about inflating them like your ego for 2020…
At designer Kaushik Velendra’s AW20 London presentation during LFWM the shoulders were pronounced and rounded.
“Naturally fascinated by this dichotomy, my intention was to find a way to recreate those sexy and masculine shoulders, elegant elongated proportions and bold muscles using modified tailoring techniques and fabrication,” said the designer. “My collection investigates the infinite possibilities of linking the two modes together, creating a ‘new generation’ of a modern, futuristic, sophisticated, and luxurious man.”
Key to the collection was the juxtaposition of traditional Indian embroidery techniques in collaboration with the lauded atelier of Vastrakala, founded by Jean-François Lesage. Velendra’s removable shoulder moulds which, like armour, are designed to accentuate the human form are perfect for those style tackles fashion throws at you.
Left & Right - Kaushik Velendra AW20
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On a chilly January Florentine night besides the swollen river Arno, the modernist Palazzo della Borsa played host to the first ever K-Way catwalk show. Known for it colourful and affordable rainwear and its signature yellow-orange-blue striped taping, this was K-Way’s way of celebrating the revamp of the brand and a sort of anniversary for them. (The brand was founded in 1965)
Left - The Classic pac-a-mac - K-Way's first catwalk show - Pitti Uomo 97 Jan. 2020
While many think of Pitti Uomo as a place for peacocks to pose by the curved pebbled concrete and classic made-in-Italy tailoring, the real money is being made by brands that offer mass appeal and big margins. This is aspirational, usually, made-in-China fashion, that has multiple variations on the same product. The consumer feels like and is happy that they have a lot of choice, while the brand’s core is simplified and strengthens the idea of ‘owning’ a category. Customers are clear on what they do, yet want to know what the new variations or collaborations are for each season. They are happy to have multiples of the same styles and shapes and have the same things as everybody else. It’s like joining a club.
It was founder Leon Claude Duhamel’s decision to brand the lightweight, nylon pac-a-mac that gave birth to K-Way after seeing people struggling in the rain through the streets of 1960s Paris.
At the Florence show, both Duhamel, and the Italian Boglione family, which now owns it, were present after a collection featuring youthful and fashion-lead rainwear. Italian influencers in Coyote-lined K-Ways watched as every variable of a K-Way was sent down the catwalk. These weren’t the pac-a-mac types of old, though it will sell plenty of those, but more the limited runs of fashion product with the K-Way DNA centre stage, even if it was taped prominently to the models’ flies.
The Bogliones - who also own Petersham Nurseries in Richmond - own K-Way as part of their BasicNet business. This Italian sportswear group owns Kappa, Robe di Kappa, Superga, and, recently bought Sebago from Wolverine. The group produced consolidated revenue growth of 14.7% in the 2018 financial year. In the first three months, Q1 2019, revenue was €74.6 million, a 38.9% increase driven by the recent acquisition of Sport Finance, the group’s distributor in France, UK and Spain.
Right - More directional K-Way for AW20
BasicNet saw strong 2018 growth globally; USA revenue increased by 36%, Europe 13.4%, Asia-Oceania 17.1% and Middle East and Africa 56.3%.
The founder of BasicNet, Marco Boglione, was only 20 when he was invited to join the company Maglificio Calzificio Torinese (MCT). MCT specialised in hosiery and underwear until seeing the potential of designer jeans during the 1970s boom and came up with ‘Jesus Jeans’.
Marco applied himself to the sportswear side of the company and was part of the nascent industry of sponsoring athletes with branded product. Under the Kappa brand they sponsored American Carl Lewis as well as football teams such as Juventus, AC Milan and Barcelona.
Marco left MCT to start a company making football merchandise, but when MCT started to struggle he, along with his brothers, bought it out of receivership and created BasicNet in 1995. Since then it has been acquiring brands with K-Way having been acquired in 2004.
K-Way’s signature ‘Le Vrai Claude 3.0’ jacket is £75. Made in China of a simple, lightweight pac-a-mac material, the margins must be huge. Success breeds success and dominance in this sector of mid-priced branded sportswear. You can sell huge volumes and retailers like the ease of brands being clear on what they do. It’s also a fun and colourful product. The same could be said for brands such Crocs, Eastpak, Herschel and Sebago. Lots of colours and finishes in the same consistent, known and liked styles.
While many new fashion brands aim for ‘luxury’, it is too dominated by the three main groups - LVMH, Kering, Richemont - who will only increase their muscle and monopolies. The volumes are too small to grow quickly and too much money is tied up in less product. The ideal is to scale quickly and this is what BasicNet has cleverly done with its brands. It’s tapped into the desire for brands at a price people are happy to pay while making good profits.
While without the overt branding, a newish brand trying this idea of lots of colours with simplicity in styles is Colorful Standard. Made in Portugal, it recently opened a store with Oi Polloi in London. Founded by Danish entrepreneur, Tue Deleuran, in 2017, it is now sold by 500 retailers across Europe with stores in Paris and Zurich.
Colorful Standard organic T-shirts retail at €30 and the sweatshirts are between €60 and €80 in a rainbow of colours. Made in Portugal in a factory Deleuran bought in 2008, he also produces private label for many luxury brands.
Left - Colorful Standard for quality organic basics in lots of colours
Expanding, new Colourful Standard categories for AW20 include boxer briefs, socks and Oxford shirts. By having the illusion of lots of choice it entices the consumer to be happy to add to their 'collection'. It also becomes a go-to when the product is good and people are satisfied. Asking people to pay 4 times the prices of Uniqlo with feel good extras of organic cotton and charitable associations seems to be working. It looks Helvetica familiar and fills the American Apparel gap or that once held by the likes of GAP.
What these two examples illustrate is the opportunities in this mid-priced market. Healthy margins in large volumes is the dream for any fashion business. Despite the naysayers, people will still pay for product they like, it just needs to be good. Oh, and colourful!
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One of the last designers standing at LFWM doing anything remotely luxurious and expensive looking is Edward Crutchley. He’s stealthily built up a fan base and business selling beautiful and theatrical clothes stocked by the likes of Harrods, matchesfashion.com and Browns. Patterned chintzs and medieval looking prints are an extravagant, yet wearable, display of his fashion craft.
The Charles I hair - or was it Brian May?! - and exaggerated Freemasons’ Fezs - Shriners - made you yearn for beautiful things again. (There’s still a customer).
The furs were real - this could explain the refined walnut lined location of the Skinners' Hall - and provided by Kopenhagen Fur. Black and white checks and lewd artly printed silks are a signature of Crutchley's.
Silly, and as basic as it sounds, but, considering the state of the quality and output from many ‘luxury’ brands, this all looks good enough to buy. Finally!
Pass me the American Express.