Last Updated on July 19, 2022
Fashion has always had seasons. Initially brands just created 2 collections — for spring/summer and fall/winter — then it turned into 4 seasonal collections, then multiple deliveries throughout the season, and now with fast fashion new collections are on the floor every week. The clothing industry needs to slow down for the sake of our planet and garment workers, but instead of just going back to 4 or 2 fashion seasons, why not ditch the seasonal collections altogether?
(Update June 2022: This post was kindly sponsored by the slow fashion brand MATTER, which is sadly no longer in business. I loved how they had a seasonless collection. Instead of producing large collections every few months they had a core selection of garments which they occasionally added styles to or offered existing styles in different fabrics/colours.)
The Many Benefits of a Seasonless Clothing
Well Designed Garments
If you have to create 30-100 new designs every 3 months or less, how much time and energy can you put into each one? Having seasonless collections allows designers to fully work through and test new styles. When I was doing assistant design, fitting, and pattern work with fashion brands, it was common for designers to include styles they weren’t totally happy with just because they had a minimum number to hit and a tight deadline. Some brands also end up having to rush styles due to the tight deadlines so they don’t have time for proper fittings.
For example MATTER’s ‘work jumpsuit’ (pictured), took 15 months to design, test, fit, and develop the final pattern! 😮 This kind of attention and work put into one style would’ve been impossible if it wasn’t for their seasonless model.
It also means designers can create pieces that work with their existing and best-selling styles. Instead of coming up with a totally new collection, designers can focus on augmenting the existing collection — maybe a new bottom that works with the popular tops or a layering piece to go with the best-selling dresses. Brands can work on creating a more versatile and functional collection instead of trying to sell a whole new set of clothes every season.
Less Pressure on Factories
Another huge benefit is that factories can have consistent, paced production. Factories often have incredibly busy periods with lots of pressure and overtime to get all the garments ready for the season, and then quieter periods before the next season’s production ramps up. Manufacturing outside of this seasonal rollercoaster would not only be less stressful for workers but also provide more continuous, stable employment since currently some factories just hire temporary staff for the busy times.
It also gives brands the ability to work with artisans and craftspeople. Using traditional techniques like Ikat dyeing, block printing, and hand-weaving takes more time than fast fashion’s quick turnaround can allow. Unfortunately we’re losing a lot of these beautiful textile arts and cultural methods with current industry demands. Slowing down fashion and allowing longer production cycles means that brands can support and share handmade, artisan textiles, making their pieces unique and imbued with a rich history of textile craft.
Reduce Impulse Purchases
A seasonless collection gives consumers more time to think about purchases. If a style is only available for a short time, you tend to feel as though you have to buy it immediately which can result in impulse purchases that might rarely get worn. Having time to think about getting a piece means customers can make sure it’s a good investment for their wardrobe without the pressure that it might disappear soon.
I often get asked where I got a certain item of clothing, and the style will no longer exist because it was from last season or last year. I love that with a seasonless collection I can recommend favourite pieces I’ve had for a while and they’re still available.
Fashion creates a ton of textile waste and a good portion of it is pre-consumer or production waste. Brands have to order a certain amount of fabric and it might not all get used; for example, a brand could have too much fabric for the amount of clothing being cut, or they might cancel or change a style. This “deadstock” or “roll-end” fabric will typically end up collecting dust somewhere. However, with a seasonless collection, even if the brand has to order a larger amount than their production needs, they can continue to use the fabric in future production runs — it won’t be “last season’s fabric” and go to waste.
We Can Ditch Fashion Shows
Maybe you see this as a con, but personally I think they’re completely unnecessary today. It used to be that buyers would attend fashion shows to order next season’s styles and customers would get a preview of what’s coming up. Now fast fashion has totally changed the game — knocking-off trends from the runway and having them in stores a few weeks later.
Sure, a fashion show is a fun event to attend, but with the cost of models, a venue, makeup/hair, stylists, dressers, lighting, and so much more — is it really worth it for some publicity? Forbes estimates a 10-15 minute runway show can cost anywhere from $200,000 to over $1 million, with the payoff being celebrity and influencer attention.
I appreciate that a lot of the smaller conscious brands I support don’t prioritize putting on a huge, expensive catwalk show and instead choose to spend their budgets in ways that better align with their mission and values — such as paying their workers fairly, reducing their environmental impact, and showing not only the final garments but giving us insight and transparency into how they’re made.
Helps Develop Your Personal Style
Picking up whatever current trends are in the stores is an easy way to build an “in style” wardrobe, but you’ll also be spending a lot of money, creating tons of waste and pollution, and wearing basically the same clothes as everyone else. Doing this also doesn’t seem to make people happy or satisfied with their wardrobe — everyone I’ve talked to who truly loves their clothes has cultivated their own personal style.
Seasonless fashion also means the removal of seasonal trends so consumers can focus on the styles of clothes they love instead of feeling pressured to update their wardrobe with the latest fashion.
I also think removing the constraints of trendy looks helps you to get creative with your clothes. For example I really enjoy finding different ways to wear my MATTER matching set.
No Clearance Needed
To get ready for the next season, brands have to get rid of stock. They’ll usually try to sell as much as possible on sale, but there’s often still leftovers. Some brands will sell these to overstock stores (which I think encourages over-production by giving brands the opportunity to have someone else deal with their excess garments), or in extreme cases brands have actually been found burning any remaining stock rather than selling them at a discounted rate.
With a seasonless collection, brands don’t have deadlines to get rid of product and don’t create overstock waste. They can offer discounts if they choose or to show appreciation for their customers, not because they have to get rid of out-of-season clothes.
To be honest, I can’t see conventional fashion brands ditching seasons anytime soon because with it
they always have new product to push and it helps them sell more clothes. However, I think a seasonless collection fits perfectly with the values espoused by the slow fashion movement. It’s wonderful to see prominent conscious brands taking this route and I hope more brands will follow.
What do you think about seasonless fashion?
I totally agree to season less fashion. I wear what i want when i want. I live in California so it’s easy to wear sandal or flip flops even in the winter. Maybe a bit cold for shorts in the winter but no jackets in the winter is fine with me. I feel so restricted all bundled up like a burrito.
Excellent newsletter. Thanks for sharing.
I am 100% on board with a season-less closet. I have been doing that most of my life without realizing it, actually. Haha. The only time I have to get (somewhat) on board with the seasons promoted by fashion is when I need a replacement sweater and it is July. Probably not going to have much success until October or later. Haha. But I agree that seeing clothes as simply CLOTHES rather than “summer” clothes or “autumn” clothes has significantly reduced my sensitivity to “fashion seasons” and trends. Great post Erin!