The Growing Importance of Sustainability in Fashion Weeks

Paris Fashion Week is nearly over, marking the end of another eagerly awaited set of events for fashion enthusiasts around the world. While these shows bring with them some exceptional creativity and innovation, we wouldn’t be who we are without taking a moment to highlight the ways in which sustainability and circularity play a role.  

Sustainability has, thankfully, become an increasingly important aspect of the fashion industry in recent years. As a result, Fashion Weeks around the world have taken steps to promote sustainable practices and create awareness about the impact of the fashion industry on both people and the environment. While there are still many challenges to be addressed, the efforts made by some Fashion Weeks demonstrate a positive step in the right direction.

One of the most significant examples of sustainability is how it has been integrated into Copenhagen Fashion Week. The event has set a goal to become the most sustainable fashion week in the world and has implemented a set of sustainability requirements for designers hoping to showcase their collections. Criteria include the use of sustainable materials, reducing waste, and promoting fair labor practices. This set of requirements is meant to be a “cornerstone for Copenhagen Fashion Week’s VISION to be an agenda-setting platform that uses its voice to accelerate sustainability efforts in the fashion industry”(Sustainability Requirements). Applause!

While London Fashion Week has also taken steps to promote sustainability, Caroline Rush, CEO at the British Fashion Council, was quoted saying that a one size fits all approach to sustainability would likely alienate smaller brands (Glamour). They’ve since utilized Copenhagen Fashion Week’s action plan to map their Minimum and Bronze Standards for BFC NEWGEN designer participants. The BFC has also established the Institute of Positive Fashion which “helps the British Fashion Industry lead in the goal to be more resilient and circular through global collaboration and local action” (CFDA). The fund highlights three key areas of focus: environment, people, and craftsmanship and community. 

While these efforts are positive, it is important to note that Fashion Weeks, simply by virtue of taking place have a significant environmental impact. For example, a typical New York Fashion Week emits 48,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (New York Times). This highlights the need for Fashion Weeks to take a more holistic approach to sustainability, not just in terms of the materials used in collections, but also in terms of the event’s overall environmental footprint.

To address this issue, some Fashion Weeks have started implementing measures to reduce their environmental impact. Some Fashion Weeks are using renewable energy sources to power their events and promoting sustainable transportation options for attendees. Additionally, there are a number of ways that Fashion Weeks globally could be shifting to become more eco conscious, including hiring only local models who don’t need to fly in, avoiding the usage of plastic bags/bottles/etc., using LED lighting, offsetting the event’s carbon emissions, partnering with experts and non-profit organizations, and generally prioritizing low-waste models. 

There are still many challenges to be addressed, but the efforts made by some Fashion Weeks to promote sustainability are a positive step in the right direction. By promoting sustainable practices and reducing their environmental impact, Fashion Weeks can help create a more sustainable future for both the planet and the fashion industry. It is crucial for the fashion industry to recognize the impact it has on the environment and take responsibility for its actions. 

We’re looking forward to the positive changes we’re confident we’ll continue to see in future Fashion Weeks globally.

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