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Seasonless clothing: a reset in the sustainability practice

In this changing world, we all need a ‘wardrobe reset’, and here comes the concept of seasonless clothing. It means something an individual could wear whenever s/he wants to. And this concept has come to prominence during the time of pandemic. In the middle of March 2020, the pandemic entailed supply chain disruptions, revenue fall, and surplus inventory. Inventories turned idle as there are no stores or even consumers wanted to buy or invest in clothing items.

Consequently, several smaller fashion labels had to shut stores. Thinking about all these factors and also thinking about people are not anymore in a position to buy seasonal dresses as before.

Figure: To fit in the global goal for sustainability, adopting seasonless clothing principle turns as the demand of time.

This pandemic taught people to be conscious about how much they should spend for clothing and how much they are planning to buy. This triggered the trend of minimalistic living around continents. So, the ‘six months buy plan’ of retail stores has lost its significance. Even renowned brands are promoting the tagline – “Let’s Stop Pretending We Need New Clothes Every Season’ as a move towards seasonless clothing culture.

Classic/timeless, utility-driven, and value for money will be the three key elements to influence our buying behavior once the pandemic is over or we get used to it. Season-neutral clothing that we can wear around the year and have longevity will be the trend in the post-pandemic retail world. If we look back to events like the Second World War and 2008 financial crisis, we will find how fabric rationing paved the way for Dior’s New Look in 1947 or how Gucci opted for refashioning to offset the woe of declining sales after 2010.

Seasonless clothing doesn’t necessarily mean just buy less, though. Adopting strategy for seasonless fashion means developing a dynamic and rotating product line that serves a brand’s goals as well as consumers’ demand. The concept of seasonless fashion may sound straightforward, but it is not. Firstly, we should not mix it up with ‘fast fashion.’

Also, it doesn’t support the idea that brands should be releasing new collections every week or month. In principle, seasonless merchandising strategy targets to transform the retail mindset from one where consumers take it for granted that certain items should be bought at certain times of the year.

As we commonly experience when a season-specific clothing line is launched, just in a few weeks those products become outdated, are on sale and tend to be replaced by the stores. This never-ending season-cycle influence consumers to grab the next trend, buy and discard the last one purchased. This practice is simply not sustainable.

To explain more, seasonality, in the apparel sector, is the core and very relevant. In some regions, say for instance, like in northeast of the USA, the weather can shift from scorching heat to extreme cold in just a matter of days. This means going from wearing sports shorts one day to cover you with heavy clothes to stay warm as much as possible. But from the business model lens that’s not what ‘seasons’ are about.

For businesses, seasonality is the tool to sell more products throughout the calendar in a year. if we can refer to the last few decades, we will see how we’ve gone from having five or more seasons from having only two seasons. Interestingly, a few brands (not referring to any names) with their quick designing, speedy inventory and dynamic price points has gone up to 52 seasons! This means a new line of clothing gets designed and produced every single week around the year.

To fit in the global goal for sustainability, adopting seasonless clothing principle turns as the demand of time. A few of the key benefits of adopting seasonless clothing are, rise of sustainable garments, less pressure on factories for overproducing, reduction of panic buying or impulse purchase and less waste.

Now that we’ve been adapting to the pandemic, it will give us the platform to fix our overconsumption habit. Our lust for excess clothes in the wardrobe will have to be reassessed. Because it is our wastefulness that is contrary to sustainability. Ideally, a fewer clothing is good enough for us.

Hence, what will appear integral is how much producers need to manufacture in line with the real need of consumers. Because it is not possible that producers’ massive inventories can always end up in discounts and sales. As the final fate, excess items end up in landfills harming the environment.

So, it is time producers must make clothes with the vision that consumers can wear them for longer with satisfaction. Not the trendy ones we used to wear once or sometimes not and discard because they are cheap. This habit of ours puts tremendous pressure on the mother earth and on the factory workers who make them.

It is of no doubt that clothing simplifying our daily life and reducing stress in a climate changing world is a big plus. The prime climate benefit of it is that seasonless clothing line in our wardrobe can support our world to offset the adverse impact of climate change by curtailing overconsumption.

Consciously or unconsciously, we all suffer from some form of climate anxiety in different ways. It could be the fear that our life will be in danger if any climate-related impact or disaster occurred due to our irresponsible behavior towards the planet. Thus, it is imperative to change our mindset as manufacturers as well as consumers if we really want to change things truly.

The views expressed are personal.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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