Can Fashion Be Profitable Without Growth?

This article is part of our special section on the DealBook Summit that included business and policy leaders from around the world.


Moderator: Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic, The New York Times. Participants: Preeti Arya, professor, textile development, Fashion Institute of Technology; Maxine Bédat, executive director, New Standard Institute; Caroline Brown, managing director, Closed Loop Partners; Laurent Claquin, chief executive, Kering Americas; Gabriela Hearst, creative director, Gabriela Hearst and Chloé; Wisdom Kaye, IMG Models; Tracy Reese, founder and creative director, Hope for Flowers; Céline Semaan, co-founder and executive director, Slow Factory; Erez Yoeli, research scientist, M.I.T. Sloan School of Management.

Producing too many clothes is no longer a good look. That was the conclusion of a task force of fashion industry forces who gathered last week at the DealBook Summit in New York City.

The group was asked by Vanessa Friedman, The New York Times fashion director and chief fashion critic, who moderated the discussion, to take on the oxymoron of sustainable fashion.

“At this point, it’s not about the chemicals,” Ms. Friedman said. “It’s about the sheer amount of stuff that we produce, that we buy and that we waste.”

The experts, whose work touches upon several aspects of the industry, agreed: Things must change, and it is no longer possible to wait to see who will step up to lead the transformation. Every part of the chain needs to participate, from investors to designers to consumers, said Ms. Friedman. And education, legislation and an evolution of the business model away from double-digit growth are essential.

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