78 BELGIAN FASHION BRANDS SUCCESSFULLY WORK TOGETHER TO CHANGE SALES LEGISLATION
At the beginning of April ’20, FFDI, together with the vast majority of the Belgian fashion, lingerie and shoe brands, asked Prime Minister Mrs. Wilmès and Minister of Work and Economy Mrs. Muyle in an open letter to adjust the Belgian sales legislation. A necessary action to keep our sector afloat and thus avoid hundreds of bankruptcies and the loss of thousands of jobs. The government responded to this question and decided to postpone the sales period until August 1.
WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO SHIFT THE SALES PERIOD
The fashion stores had to close their doors mid-March 2020 due to COVID-19 and since then the turnover losses have been accumulating day after day. The store stock has been paid, however, the autumn and winter collections are now fully produced and must be pre-financed. Next summer’s collections are in full preparation and meanwhile no more money is coming in.
When we can open the stores again soon, we know that some major retailers and online players will be inclined to sell as many goods at great discounts as possible to dispose of stock and generate cash flow quickly. However, this is completely different for the Belgian brands, including those of FFDI and the many small boutiques, both our own stores and those of our B2B customers. If the collections cannot be sold at a fully-fledged margin for several months, there is no financial buffer to carry the sales and to absorb some of the interim losses. That (interim) buffer does seem to be coming now, thanks to the shift in sales to 1 August 2020.
THE WAY TO SLOW FASHION
This makes one hope: there is a recognition that the time has come to return the respect to the fashion industry. At FFDI, we also resolutely aim for respectful, (human) dignified work. From design to creation, from shop floor to wardrobe. Design teams in Belgium and around the world invest in quality, creativity and technical research in the development of design and fit. That work must be rewarded, among other through a full sales period
The current problems make us think further about various ecological challenges which the fashion industry currently faces, such as over-consumption, fast fashion and great competition. We already offer an answer to these challenges with our youngest brand Furore. With Furore we opt for an alternative approach where the terms slow fashion and season-less are of the utmost importance.
Why discount a high-quality design – which has been worked on for a year – after just one season? FFDI, with Furore being the first in line, wants to leave the trend of fast fashion and the production of clothing with a very limited lifespan behind. Essentially, a quality-made garment that is properly maintained has no expiration date. This shift to the ‘seasonless approach’ means that more sustainable thinking can be given to the development of new designs, that the sales industry will receive the more than necessary financial breathing space and that the consumer will enjoy a quality piece of clothing for a longer period of time.
Who knows, now that our globe makes us live at a slower pace, slow fashion may also take on a new, and even more valuable, meaning.