As we approach the middle of the fashion weeks calendar, I can’t help but feel that we are collectively stuck in a bit of a Groundhog Day situation: not just because fashion weeks themselves are stuck in a perpetual system of repetition, but because we are once again debating their role, and whether they should be in existence at this point in time, considering their carbon footprint, the message they send, and the industry they promote.
A recent article published in the NY Times has exposed the real cost to our planet of all the intercontinental transport, the materials in use for displaying and showcasing collections, and the general excess that they encourage.
“The report’s authors used representative data from 2,697 retailers, including Net-a-Porter, Selfridges and Galeries Lafayette, and 5,096 designer brands, including major names like Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors but also smaller labels, to estimate the carbon cost for the industry as a whole over a 12-month period.”
“According to the report, the travel undertaken by buyers and brands resulted in about 241,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year. That figure, said the report, is equivalent to the annual emissions of a small country — say, Saint Kitts and Nevis — or enough energy to light up Times Square for 58 years.” – NYT, from the Zero to Market Report
At the risk of repeating myself, because I have already stated my position, and the position of Fashion Revolution in this regard, I am categorically against blanket cancellations, and all for the opportunity to intelligently, and urgently, discover new ways to showcase and trade our fashion.
Steps are being taken to this effect, and changes (in some cases quite unimaginable changes) are happening already. Admittedly, these changes are still exploratory, still unlikely to mitigate the damage or to have a tangible, measurable impact, but there is a clear appetite to improve.
We are transitioning, and transformative periods can only really be properly valued later down the line, once the dust has settled and once we can clearly compare and reflect on what has worked, and what hasn’t.