Thoughts On Fashion Week 2019 By Scarlett Buckley


The 2.5 trillion USD fashion industry is one of the largest most polluting industries that the world is up against. Behind oil, the world of fashion disrupts, damages and impacts the environment catastrophically. Aligned with this disruption comes the urgent need for the fashion world to educate those about the consequences of their consumer habits. Although, the priority seems to spotlight the millions in revenue that this lust for new clothing brings in. This is not stopping a movement of determination though, with the activists of the extinction rebellion targeting London’s 2019 fashion week.

The climate change protesters are bringing to light the calamitous effects of the fashion industry. Their plan is to cause destruction and prevent those attending fashion week to get to the shows on time. As a result they want to catalyse their symbolic plan involving ‘the death of catwalks’. This disruption is focusing on challenging ‘the culture around consumption’. However, one has to question whether ‘the death of catwalks’ is the key to preventing the catastrophic eventualities looming ahead. Albeit, Extinction Rebellion has caused a media stir and has unquestionably emphasised the impending effects caused by the production and consumer line. Although, should the fashion industry be made extinct or adapted? Frequently, shoppers are found to be unaware of the steps that are taken to produce their clothing items. A pair of denim jeans for example, requires one kilo of cotton which in itself involves 10,000 litres of water for the cotton to grow. To put this in perspective, the average human being will drink this large sum in 10 years. 

“one has to question whether ‘the death of catwalks’ is the key to

preventing the catastrophic eventualities looming ahead.”

Despite the environmental effects, London fashion week is still underway, with an estimated 5,000 press and buyers expected to attend the events, and orders being placed projected to exceed £100 million. An event bringing in that amount of revenue will always present hurdles when trying to be stopped. However, people need to be educated into ways they could adapt their consumerist ways and reduce the massive carbon footprint of fashion. The Green Fashion Week's 8th edition took place in Switzerland last year. Designers and brands were brought together in hope to think of innovative techniques; these techniques were thought up in hope to promote multi-disciplinary methods to coincide the two worlds of fashion and sustainability. Collison’s as such need not only appear in places such as the Green Fashion Week, and should in fact evolve to become a crucial and imperative construct of all fashion weeks. 85% of textiles either end up in a landfill or an incinerator when they could be easily recycled or rebought. The world of fashion needs to promote how materials can be reused and put them back on the same catwalk they once walked down, setting an example to consuming world.

We are no longer in the dark about the destructive pathway which leads to the clothes we wear, and with this comes the realisation that the producers were never in the dark. Change needs to be made and put into action which stress how creativity, innovation and cultural change can be all be addressed together. The UN Alliance is trying to address this and is working towards changing the pathway of fashion and with it reducing “it’s negative social, economic and environmental impact and turning it into a driver for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals,” (unece, 2018). Change is occurring with companies focusing on sustainability more than the seasonal colour. For example, H&M have expressed their desire to be 100% sustainable by 2030. Nonetheless, H&M is just one company out of the masses and change needs to happen on a multiple scale before it’s too late. Companies need to be inspired by this mission and understand the possibilities and the creativity that can come with reusing fabrics. 

Extinction Rebellion faced a backlash about going up against fashion week, although, even if there is no funeral regarding ‘the death of catwalks’, there has also been a rise in awareness brought of the industry's destruction as well as mass media coverage on the environmental effects. London’s Fashion Week is the ideal platform to promote how businesses can develop and set an example to promote social change and extinction rebellion identified this. We believe the fashion industry itself does not need to become extinct, but in fact needs to become a plethora of art and creative ideas of adaptations to sustainable ways. 

Ella Grace Denton