It's Time to Ditch the Fashion Seasons

Public Domain. Unsplash / Rene Böhmer

Introducing new styles weekly or monthly is unsustainable. There's a better way of doing it.

I always thought there was just one way to rebel against fast fashion: stop buying it and invest in higher-quality, ethically-made clothing. But it turns out there is another approach that works well, too: ditching clothing seasons and prioritizing seasonless items in your wardrobe.

This is something that hadn't occurred to me until I read yet another informative post by Verena Erin, who runs a sustainable fashion blog called My Green Closet. In this particular post, titled, "Seasonal Fashion is SO Last Season," Erin talks about the huge problem of brands churning out seasonal collections, many of which are not even the traditional two or four seasons that we know, but include multiple mini-seasons within those traditional ones. One source explains that "today, the fashion industry is churning out up to 11 or more [seasons] a year, with some releasing 52 'micro-seasons' annually."

The problem is that many shoppers have become accustomed to expecting new clothes every time they enter a store. A typical customer visits Zara 17 times a year, which drives the brand to refresh its stock twice a week. Fast fashion giants like H&M; and Forever 21 have new arrivals daily. Topshop introduces 400 new styles a week on its website. These practices keep things exciting, but they also drive obsolescence of a sort; almost as soon as you've brought something home from the store, it's on the clearance rack to make room for the next style.

If you can give up novelty, however, it creates the opportunity for seasonless fashion, which has numerous benefits. Erin lists a number of these:

– Better-designed garments. She writes, "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?" More design time allows brands to build on pieces that are already in their collections, rather than starting from scratch with each new season.

– Easier on factories. Workers can rely on steady, year-round work, instead of preparing for seasonal rushes. It creates opportunities for producers to work with local artisans. As Erin explains,

"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."

– Fewer impulse purchases. Shoppers won't be as inclined to snap something up if they don't fear it will be gone the next time they're in. It allows shoppers to replace pieces they love after they've worn out.

– Less waste. Extra fabric can get incorporated into new pieces because it's not pegged as 'last season's look'. Then there's not all the controversial destruction of unsold merchandise that brands do not want hanging around because it can detract from and devalue the next season's offerings.

Erin has other great reasons for embracing seasonless clothing that you can read in her original article here. It's some good food for thought that will certainly influence my choices the next time I'm in a store.