Spotlight on Fashion Week

With increased spotlight on the fashion industry and its impact on the environment, it’s no wonder that conversation has turned towards whether fashion week is still relevant and needed. 

In 2019, climate activist group Extinction Rebellion called for an outright cancellation of Fashion Week, staging its ‘funeral’ via a march in London as fashion shows began. Extinction Rebellion’s protests coincided with events hosted by the British Fashion Council’s ‘Positive Fashion initiative’, a body that aims to encourage a greater focus on sustainability and human rights within the industry.  

Is ‘declaring the death’ of the global event the way forward? Or does championing the work of body’s like the Positive Fashion Initiative make more sense? 

Is Fashion Week a big waste party?

Hubbub polling showed that over half of young women are buying new clothes once a month. Considering the UK sends 11 million items of clothing to landfill every week (WRAP), it’s clear that fashion is contributing to our waste problem.  

Some argue that Fashion Week is the embodiment of attitude towards fashion, encouraging us to buy more, spend more and wear each item less 

They also say that the event itself is wasteful, with more than 60 brands creating sets and shows that use large volumes of materials and items only once. This, Extinction Rebellion argues, is “tone-deaf” during a time where there is ecological uncertainty. 

They also say that the seasonal nature of London Fashion Week is encouraging waste at home.  By releasing new collections, designers are feeding the concept that shoppers need a new wardrobe every time the weather changes.  

Or is Fashion Week a show of innovation and change?

Others argue that London Fashion Week is an important space for young designers and innovators to demonstrate the positive innovations that the fashion industry can make. Many designers such as Patrick McDowell have used the event to showcase collections made entirely from repurposed materials. Some designers have also adopted a policy of avoiding catwalks altogether and are exploring new ways to showcase collections. Dame Vivienne Westwood opted out of showing her latest collection in September 2019, citing environmental reasons, but instead showed her collection with a digital look book and video.  

 The British Fashion Council (those behind London Fashion Week), Dame Vivienne Westwood and the Mayor of London have joined forces in a campaign to bring the fashion industry together to lead climate action, for a safer and greener future. In 2020, the British Fashion Council have stated that they continue to focus on its Positive Fashion initiative, a platform designed to celebrate industry best practice and encourage future business decisions to create positive change.

Dive Deeper

SHOWStudio held a panel discussion discussing whether Fashion Week should be canceled in September 2019 with experts in the fashion industry. Have a watch to explore each side of the story in more detail, you might recognise Emma Slade Edmonson from our Bright Friday campaign! You can watch it over on SHOWStudio’s youtube channel here. 

Let's keep the conversation going

Whether you agree with Extinction Rebellion’s tactics or not, their action encourages conversation and increases pressure for change, from individuals, brands and the government. There’s also so much awareness that still needs to be raised about the impact of our fashion habits, which many are unaware of. The more we talk about these the more we can make informed choices. 

Fashion week has great potential to pioneer better practices for the benefit of the planet, but only if it continues to invest in its own bettering by setting ambitious targets and leading with clear and transparent actions. 

Want to see change in the fashion industry? We always want to hear from you. Drop us a message at [email protected] with any questions or ideas and head over to @wear_the_movement_ on Instagram.