image of a person in a cow suit posing with a model on a background of the jacquemus fashion week runway

Fashion Week Goes Green, But Like, For The Environment You Know

Alright, so you already know I’m real deep in sustainability hours. From sustainable fashion to beauty to dealing w your period, there’s a tonne of ways we can gently adjust our individual consumption habits to trash the planet slightly less while we exist on it. (Please, for the love of god if nothing else eat less meat and use a keep cup.) But what about the big bois, out there on the corporate and industrial level? Just what exactly are they doing?

This fashion week season at least, it seems like some major players are trying to turn the tides (before they, you know, rise and decimate us all). Last year’s most memorable moment, and probably the one most people had pushed into their eyeballs thanks to viral social media sharing, was the Jacquemus show in June.

The show was the vision of coveted events producer Alexandre de Betak, who told Business of Fashion, “it was absolutely low impact as can be.” A long-ass strip of pink carpet ran through sunny fields of lavender in Provençal, with a few benches and guests mostly invited from Paris, and of course, the clothes themselves. No lights, no elaborate wasteful sets that get used once and binned, and fewer emission-heavy international flights. 

The current spate of 2020 fashion weeks have continued the sustainability trend, in some highly commendable and also some very weird ways. While all of these efforts still beg the larger question of whether fashion can ever be truly sustainable (and once again for the people in the back, there is no ethical consumption under capitalism), we’re having a look at the efforts the fashion-pack are trying, anyway.

Susty invites only pls

Houses like Gucci, Marni and Bottega Veneta ditched lavish, over-produced show invitations (usually designed to be flashed on social media) for some low-fi digital invites, including a WhatsApp voice note from Gucci’s Alessandro Michele. It’s a small but meaningful step from an industry that so often is about the indulgent optics of showing off.

The Scands with the plans

Copenhagen fashion week kicked off this year by announcing “radical” sustainability goals. It’s a move, while not as drastic as fellow Scandinavian country’s Sweden’s cancellation of their fashion week, that signals the increasing consciousness of how fashion needs to do better. 

Brands will have to meet 17 sustainability criteria, which include “bringing in zero-waste set designs for their shows, pledging not to destroy unsold clothes and using at least 50% organic or recycled textiles in their collections.” 

Reduce, re-use, recycle

In terms of the clothes themselves, designers in Milan at Marni, Tod’s and Emporio Armani were experimenting with recycling and more sustainably-minded production methods. Patchwork-style clothes made use of old fabrics and leathers, while Emporio Armani debuted a whole capsule collection of clothes made from recycled, regenerated or organic materials. 

Cows w/o cowboys

Stella McCartney, long-time susty fashion advocate and a pioneer in the use of vegetarian as opposed to animal leather, sent some yeehaw down her runway at Paris fashion week. While we wonder if the ‘furry’ overtones were slightly lost on the designer (tbf, it’s probably only my brain that’s been ruined by the internet), the show’s rabbits, cows and a horse foreground a serious issue in a cute Animal Crossing way. 

“These animals are the ingredients of everyone else’s fashion shows. We are the only luxury fashion house in the world that isn’t killing animals on the runway,” explained McCartney. “I wanted to make that point, but in a joyous way.”

Climate change, but make it fashion

Balenciaga went with an extremely literal presentation of climate change, with dramatic lighting and visual effects that mimicked extreme and apocalyptic weather events (winds, fires, floods) as well as submerging the runway itself underwater. The first rows were left empty, because of said water, a move intended to highlight the rising threat of the climate crisis. 

According to the designer, the water was to be diverted back to the city for use, but there’s no doubt it’s a strong statement to make, especially considering climate change’s effect on water usage and the fact that Australia is in the worst drought in our history atm. Anyway, I miss the Nicolas Ghesquière era. That’s all.

Lead image via @stellamccartney and Jacquemus via L’Officiel.

Monisha is a writer with a background in publishing and digital media. A chronic Pisces, she’s into trying to be a better person and sparkling water.

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