“RIP LFW 1983-2019” reads a poster from Extinction Rebellion’s theatrically staged funeral protest. Following their ignored pleas for its death, they vowed to disrupt the 5-day event, targeting high-profile shows such as Burberry and Victoria Beckham. Their call for action spanned further than the carbon footprint generated by a fashion show, to that of the very nature that encourages: consumption.
Fashion week is unlikely to be cancelled in the near future. However, archaic systems of jam-packed schedules and the environmental strain caused must be reconfigured. Excess should be made unfashionable. These concerns have been on the minds of some designers and they have expressed their opinions through their fashion shows.
For the first time ever, Burberry put on a carbon neutral show. They had offset impacts such as the flights of guest travelling to London specifically for the show, the building and production of the event. The house and their guest also contributed by donating to VSC-certified REDD+ projects which prevents deforestation and conserves the tropical rainforest in the Brazillian Amazon.
Preen by Thorton Bregazzi’s designer duo took leftover fabrics from previous seasons to form this season’s collection. Justin Thorton had experience in repurposing materials, having worked on London designer Helen Storey’s ‘Second Life’ collection, in the 80’s.
As she looked for more sustainable sourcing, Thea Bregazzi found that “better solutions are beginning to come”. The collection included materials such as sustainably sourced viscose and georgette made from plastic bottles and textile waste for some of their sheer dresses. This medley of fabrics matched their design aesthetic of contrasting materials perfectly.
Designer Phoebe English found the search for sustainable solutions “reinvigorating”. After taking a two-season hiatus from fashion week, she returned with innovative ideas.One of which was greater transparency — as she laid out a provenance for her clothing — and gave printed contacts of sustainable manufacturers for guest to take away.
Roland Mouret’s contribution towards a more environmentally-conscious industry was in the commodity of clothes: hangers. Eighty percent of his hangers had been manufactured out of recycled marine plastics, in collaboration with the company, Arch & Hook. Plastic debris in the ocean is harmful. When it breaks apart, toxic chemicals enter our food system. So, although Mouret’s initiative is simple, it has the potential to make a difference.
As we are experiencing an environmental crisis, innovation for change is celebrated. But, it has to be coupled with practicality. Vivienne Westwood, who is known for sharing her political views on her runways, reduced consumption by reducing her clothing production. Between Fall 2017’s collection and this one, the amount of styles in the coed collection has been reduced by 23 percent in menswear and 50 percent in women’s, according to Laura McQuaig, a representative of the brand.
London Fashion Week exposes the reality of fashion — fashion week is not going to end anytime soon — nor are we going to stop buying clothes. But, designers have shown that they are becoming more conscious and ethical about fashion’s contribution to the environment. Creatively designing while preserving the environment is a new challenge for designers, and it has proven to be quite exciting.