“The best is yet to come” : a new model, and new creative spaces for fashion

“The best is always to come” was the slightly provocative title of a conference presented by Serge Carreira (Tuesday 11 February 5 -6 pm, Fashion Talks Area, Hall 6). A specialist in fashion and luxury and lecturer at the prestigious Sciences Po University in Paris, Carreira outlined a paradigm shift in the fashion market – a true revolution bound to profoundly reshape the entire textile and luxury sector, from raw material sourcing to communication strategies.

Sustainability and environmental friendliness, corporate social responsibility, inclusiveness, respect for cultural and gender identities, an equitable redistribution of resources – these are just some of the priority imperatives outlined by the United Nations in its 2030 agenda, at the root of a new mindset that designers and brands must now take into account, not just for ethical reasons, but financial ones too. The American market, noted Serge Carreira, produced 100 billion garments in 2014 alone, while prices have fallen by 50% in the space of 15 years. With an annual average of 14 new clothing items per person worldwide, these figures do not point to growth, but to an economic catastrophe marked by waste. Given these numbers, “We no longer produce fashion, but waste,” says Carreira, especially since “there is no such thing as a $5 T-shirt” without a significant cost to society and people.

In keeping with its pioneering role and unique position as a cultural and social influencer, the luxury market has an obligation to embrace these new priorities arising from the global economic situation, especially as consumers are growing increasingly attentive and exacting when it comes to environmental and societal issues. According to a 2019 study by True Luxury Global Consumer Insight Altagamma/BCG, some 60% of “True Luxury” consumers state that their purchasing practices are guided by environmental factors and a respect for nature (+12% over 2013).

A long-term approach to transparency, inclusiveness, respect, authenticity and honest choices and values are the keys to success in a fashion industry called upon to deliver as much meaning as profit, said Carreira. Refuting the nostalgic champions of an often poorly understood past and temporary, ready-made green-washing recipes, or calls for downsizing at all costs, Carreira is a proponent of a new vision of inclusive prosperity. An economic model that is both virtuous and profitable, where value takes precedence over profit, hope over anger, and growth is shared rather than indiscriminate. A new kind of growth, capable of innovatively elaborating new technological resources and digital communications channels, with new cultural givens that emphasise respect and sharing at all levels of the textile and fashion industry.

In the new landscape delineated by these parameters, everything remains to be done to translate this message into concrete actions. It’s up to designers and brands to find individual solutions and forge their own path, in a market that has to re-orient itself around the very essence  of luxury: respect, excellence, innovation. This is an immense creative space, proffered up to new generations and brands to continue to make fashion one big dream machine: because in fashion, the best is always to come.

Find the other reports of the Première Vision conferences in our programme section.