With the world increasingly conscious of our impact on the long-term sustainability of the planet, the fashion industry is casting an inwards eye at how the industry can reduce its wasteful practises.
The five-day London Fashion Week started off with an interruption by climate change activists from Extinction Rebellion group, who fired coloured smoke flares and blocked roads in a street protests demanding the cancellation of the seasonal fashion extravaganza — a call in response to the excessive amount of carbon emissions produced from flying fashion show guests across the globe and more.
While the possibility of putting an end to fashion week altogether remains a complex matter, an increasing number of designers have chosen to address environmental concerns by exploring more sustainable and ethical ways to produce fashion. Is that enough to reset the damage? No, but in the moment of environmental crisis, every effort counts.
From experimenting with recycled materials to filling up their stores with plastic bottles for a statement, scroll down to see how designers at London Fashion Week are putting sustainability in their creative agenda.
Furthering its ongoing efforts in the topic of sustainability, Mulberry has officially launched a capsule of eco-friendly bags and outerwear, dubbed the M collection, at London Fashion Week, all crafted from an innovative blend of ECONYL® regenerated nylon and sustainable cotton.
In support of circular fashion, the brand also launched a ‘Made To Last’ exhibition, where craftsmen from its neutral-carbon Somerset factory demonstrated the making of the brand’s first 100% sustainable bag: the Portobello. Customers could also shop from a selection of pre-restored bags donated by celebrities, and participate in a handbag exchange, which allowed customers to have their bags authenticated and appraised, and put the value towards their next purchase from the store.
Following up on her anti-plastic bag campaign over two decades ago that had successfully reduced the use of plastic bags, the brand has launched a second edition of the tote, ‘I Am A Plastic Bag’, during London Fashion Week; this time, each bag is made using an innovative new fabric created from 32 half-litre recycled plastic bottles, coated with recycled plastic windshields for a weather-resistant durable finish.
For an even bigger statement, the brand has closed its London stores for three days during London Fashion Week, filling them with 90,000 plastic bottles to showcase the enormity of the problem of single-use plastic going into landfill.
The TommyXLewis ‘TommyNow’ creations are a celebration of loyalty ‘to who you are, what you believe in, and where you want to go’, with a strong focus on sustainability. In fact, this collaboration is the designer’s most environmentally-friendly series to date. 75% of the collection are made from sustainable materials from 100% organic cotton to low-impact denim washes and other recycled materials.
28-year-old English designer Matty Bovan took on London Fashion Week with his “Off World Aesthetic Experience” collection that communicates “an out-of-body experience” through “exploring the negative spaces around the body.” The result is distorted silhouettes, clashing textures and prints, even inventive headpieces in the form of shimmering draped curtains made by milliner Stephen Jones. Showcasing his interest in sustainable fashion, the designer also made efforts to make fringes on his coats with salvaged plastic, and incorporated Liberty prints and upcycled Fiorucci denim in this collection.
Ashley Williams once again demonstrated her tongue-in-cheek approach to fashion featuring a cool, slightly rebellious vibes highlighted by reworked shapes and high-low cultural references. Her highly popular crystal hairpins are also making a comeback, refreshed with words such as ‘Brat‘ and ‘Parasite’ that is bound to fly off shelves. She has also shown a move towards more sustainable practice, and used fabrics from past samples for the collection. The finale gown, in particular, was created in collaboration with Claire Barrow, and features scraps from old samples and dead stock made into a patchwork pattern for the piece.
Vivienne Westwood is not only the creator and icon of punk fashion, she is, as most would know, also a longterm advocate on climate change. For the Fall/Winter 2020 season, the Queen of Punk continues to ‘rebel on’, presenting a new collection that preaches sustainability, as well as justice and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.
Hosted at London’s Serpentine Gallery, the presentation appeared a sit-in protest, with hanged posters filling up the space, with written statements including “Culture-fit, Consump-fat”, “Rot $ Fossil Fuels” and “Growth = Destroy” that call out the ugliness of overconsumption.
British Fashion Council
With the pressure coming from environmental activists including Extinction Rebellion, the British Fashion Council (BFC) is stressing upon its efforts and aim to ‘ensure that the fashion industry continues to grow in a sustainable way’. This season, the BFC has made its own efforts to curate a Position Fashion exhibition during London Fashion Week, which showcased brands that are working sustainably, the ways to achieve the same, coupled with talks that explored how the fashion industry could reduce its damage to the environment. The council has also launched its first cloth swap, which included pieces donated from brands such as Burberry, Puma and more.