The changing state of fashion travel
Slow travel is just what it sounds like: traveling at a slower pace. But what does that mean for the fast-paced fashion industry, where traditionally travel was at the heart of every international fashion week?
By Maggie Laubscher Sunday 27 September, 2020 Short read
Similarly, fashion powerhouse Chanel took customers and press virtually to Capri for its Cruise 2021 pre-collection, presenting pre-filmed content. Dior released a short film in July to showcase its couture collection, and livestreamed its cruise collection from Puglia in lieu of an in-person event. The brands that haven’t opted for digital methods have cancelled or postponed events. For instance, the Met Gala and the CFDA Awards have been postponed indefinitely.
September has always been a time of change; leaves falling, schedules shifting. And this year it may be the sharpest season of change yet, especially in fashion.
What’s interesting about Ndlovu's statement is the positive reaction to a period of inactivity. What started out as a forced slower pace seems to have become a welcome one. At the end of April, Saint Laurent announced a decision to reshape its schedule and lead by its own rhythm: all tenets of slow travel. In May, Gucci’s Creative Director, Alessandro Michele, penned a lengthy Instagram post admonishing fashion’s unrelenting schedule. He wrote, ‘At the end of the day, we were out of breath.’ Michele said the brand would move away from industry deadlines and only show twice a year, rather than the typical six to eight times. His goal is ‘recalibrating time to set the pace at a human level’. Again, he was echoing the tenets of slow travel.
‘We are seeing the results of everyone not being everywhere all at the same time,’ says Kellee Edwards, licensed pilot and Travel Channel host, when I show her the myriad statements from some of the largest brands in the industry. ‘The over-tourism is dying down. We’re taking better care of the planet. The fog is disappearing, the waterways are clearing up.’ Trishna Goklani, a UK-based fashion influencer originally from Singapore echoes that sentiment, saying, ‘This could be a good time for the industry to change the way it used to be and move towards a future that’s more sustainable.’ Slow travel has landed in the fashion world.
It’s a sharp left turn for an industry that has historically relied heavily on travel: fashion shows, trade shows, photo shoots and product launches. One influencer talks about the decadence of a cosmetics giant taking a group of influencers to the Maldives on a privately chartered jet simply for a mascara launch. Ndlovu was once flown with full luxury itinerary to Sedona in Arizona for a high-street chain’s collection launch that had a desert theme. ‘That is part of the experience,’ she says. ‘When we travel, it often ties in with the collection. I think brands now will have to be a bit more creative.’
For now, Ndlovu has not been travelling for influencer work. She hopes that will change soon, but with a more individualised approach. ‘Maybe this is a chance to make it more personal and narrow the focus,’ she says, hopefully. Time will tell if fashion can learn and grow from what initially felt like a fatal blow.