Sustainability is now widely accepted in the industry to be the metric that matters most – at least in theory. In practical terms, there is a good deal of resistance to the suggestion that clothes production should be phased out completely, but a new generation of designers is approaching fashion with sustainability as a first principle.
“Our generation has been very self-centred,” says the designer Roland Mouret, a 20-year veteran of fashion week, at the catwalk headquarters. “We are the generation who changed fashion from a model of two collections a year to six collections a year. So now we have to take some responsibility.”
Mouret has partnered with Arch & Hook to create clothes hangers made from 100% recycled marine plastic. After use, they are 80% recyclable, rather than the standard 25%. “The volume of clothes hangers that went to landfill last year in the USA could build a structure the size of the Empire State Building,”
Extinction Rebellion want to show that what is happening in fashion so far is not in proportion to the crisis that we are in. The organisation staged a funeral at the London Fashion Week finale outside 180 The Strand, a venue that hosted fashion week shows. The funeral march called for the event to end in its current form, with the group criticising the clothing industry as a major offender in the climate crisis.
They also staged a die-in outside one of the show venues on Friday and a swarm outside Victoria Beckham’s show on Sunday, with protesters holding placards reading “fashion = ecocide” and “the ugly truth about fashion”.
The group is targeting the fashion industry for its actual environmental impact. The United Nations has said it uses more energy than the aviation and shipping industry combined, with a projected 63% increase in the global consumption of apparel by 2030. Extinction Rebellion says the industry also gives the impression that the world is not in a climate emergency.
“Culture is complicit in our destruction when it should be taking responsibility for people getting their heads around this existential problem,” said Extinction Rebellion’s Sara Arnold.