Fashion Revolution calls for a new approach to Fashion Weeks
Extinction Rebellion has recently called for a cancellation of London Fashion Week, which will take place mid-September. The mass civil disobedience campaign will stage a funeral at London Fashion Week as a symbolic death to catwalks everywhere.
Extinction Rebellion’s call to cancel London Fashion Week is a demand to stop business as usual dead in its tracks. If we are to reduce the industry’s carbon emissions, we need radical action, and we need it now. However, we believe the emphasis must not be on shutting down the fashion industry but on shifting it – far more rapidly than it already is – towards alternative, innovative models that promote creativity, craftsmanship and a meaningful form of fair and decent employment for millions of people around the world.
Not only is fashion one of the world’s most polluting industries, it is becoming increasingly obvious that fashion weeks in their current format are themselves outmoded, wasteful, and no longer fit for purpose.
The emphasis, the preconceptions and the format need to change. Fashion Weeks offer a unique platform to showcase innovation and new ideas but they need to be put to good use. Solutions to the global challenges designers and supply chains face can be found within the industry itself. There are a great many designers, managers, technicians and creatives working within the industry who are actively working to change the systems from within.
As Fashion Revolution, we support and encourage the dedication and commitment of those industry insiders in striving to explore new ways of working that are addressing everything from production models, ethical supply chains, volumes, waste, and packaging, to upcycling and reusing existing materials. These are the innovators and change makers the British Fashion Council, and other fashion councils around the world, must highlight and promote as the only sustainable way for fashion to progress.
There are questions every designer should be asking themselves about waste, supply chains, over production, volumes, material sourcing. Fashion Week can provide a platform not just to show the new, but to challenge conventions and actively disrupt the processes and systems that are no longer acceptable in the face of environmental breakdown.
The Fashion Revolution initiative, Fashion Open Studio proposes a whole new industry agenda. When designers open up their studios to public, press and industry alike, and talk about the people who make their clothes, their production processes and solutions to particular challenges, they are each contributing towards seismic shifts across the industry. They are opening up their practice to questions and welcoming a level of transparency that holds them accountable every step of the way.
We believe this is the way to explore and celebrate possibilities for a fairer, cleaner more respectful industry that is recalibrated to cater to citizens’ clothing needs, desires and fantasies without perpetuating the current wasteful, polluting and exploitative industry we so urgently need to change. The only way forward is to share best practice, open source good ideas, push creativity, but also ensure that fashion weeks collaborate to include and foster alternative solutions and ultimately minimise their collective impact. This is no time for a funeral. The global fashion industry needs rebirth (or reincarnation). There’s a lot of work to be done.