Sustainability with Style12th March, 2020 by Emily Sandiford
There is a change in the air at this season’s fashion month. Once an afterthought or inconvenient truth, sustainability has taken centre-stage for this round of sartorial celebrations, with fashion brands engaging meaningfully in the climate conversation.
Fashion is no stranger to floral motifs and lush green palettes, but this season attention is more than skin – or fabric – deep. Autumn/Winter 2020 shows have ushered in a wave of recyclable materials, natural dyes and eco initiatives. Copenhagen Fashion Week, first in the roster of events, set a precedent for the season by rolling out an environmental action plan that shows fashion is striving to shake off its frivolous reputation.
Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week, announced an official Sustainability Action Plan that reflects a panoramic spread of climate concerns, from plastic pollution to clean air. In addition to banning single-use plastics at shows and advocating for the use of electric cars, organisers have developed an ambitious 3-year plan to achieve zero-waste status by 2022.
Environmental commitments continued to influence proceedings throughout the fashion calendar, as Richard Malone’s London Fashion Week show was accompanied by a mission statement detailing the origins of the materials in the collection (organic, plant-derived) and the rates of his tailors (£25 per hour).
Malone wasn’t the only designer to place sustainable materials at the top of the agenda, as across the Channel John Galliano’s Maison Margiela offering embraced similar sentiments. Galliano explored the creative potential of ‘upcycling’, with an extravaganza of colour that spanned repurposed wicker baskets and deadstock leather skirts. “It’s a return to worth and slower fashion”, he observed, “Invention with a conscience”.
Whilst eco-consciousness is newly-awakened in many of the world’s most prestigious fashion houses, sustainability has been a driving force behind the work of Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney long before the phrase ‘climate crisis’ entered the mainstream. This season, Westwood’s creative director and husband Andreas Kronthaler ensured that the entire collection was sourced sustainably, whilst on McCartney’s catwalk, the designer showed alternate looks of vegan leather and tongue-in-cheek animal suits.
In an industry known for its insatiable desire for newness, it remains to be seen whether green will be the new black. As fashion takes its first steps towards sustainable practices, these Autumn/Winter shows offer an inspiring glimpse of what the future might hold.