Sense and sustainability at LFW


There’s one buzzword that’s dominated almost every conversation at London’s shows this season. And it’s an unexpected one, given that it’s never been remotely fashionable before: sustainability.



So why now? Quite simply, because we’re at a tipping point. Just look at the global outcry about the burning of the Amazon rainforest, for one. Then there’s the rise of Extinction Rebellion, the grassroots protest movement who occupied some of London’s busiest streets and transport hubs this year (and who were a quietly powerful presence throughout the shows, wielding placards that itemised the industry’s vast environmental impact in sobering black and white). Everywhere you look, the industry is being held to account as never before – from journalist Dana Thomas’ new book Fashionopolis, which explores the relationship between fast fashion and the climate crisis, to campaigns like Oxfam’s Second-Hand September, an initiative encouraging consumers to abstain from clothes shopping entirely.
 
At the BFC, several initiatives (a research study on sustainability, the launch of an Institute of Positive Fashion) have been unveiled in recent days, signalling a new willingness – in London, at least – to foreground environmental issues. And it’s worth giving credit where it’s due here; London Fashion Week has a long history of supporting ecodesign, dating back to the launch of Esthetica (a showcase devoted specifically to ethical fashion) in 2006. Although it remained on the margins of the main schedule, Esthetica was an early champion of Christopher Raeburn, who has perhaps done more than any other British designer to make responsible creation cool.



And across this season’s shows, it was easy to see Raeburn’s mantra – Reduced, Recycled, Remade – being taken up by emerging names. At Richard Malone, leftover textiles from previous collections were imaginatively reused, built out with recycled wadding or layered with off-cut scraps. Fading from rich berry tones to watery blues and greens, the designer’s garments ballooned into sinuously surreal showpieces – but the real highlights were his patchworked column dresses and sleek tailored pieces, cut and seamed to highlight the transparency of their construction. At Fashion Scout, London’s off-schedule platform, Isabel Manns showcased a tightly-edited range of fully reversible garments – exuberantly printed on one face, textured white on the other – all constructed in London. ‘From, literally, Day 1,’ she said of her time at Parsons School of Design, it was, ‘You’re the future. You’ve got to make the difference.’ Not that Manns needed much prompting; she’d grown up sewing alongside her mother, who always recycled clothes rather than throwing them away.
 
Fyodor Golan went wild with offcuts, collaborating with Kat Maconie on upcycled candy-coloured sandals. And Phoebe English, after taking two seasons out to rethink her production, placed her new process under the microscope, with production leftovers sealed between layers of organza. Pinboards placed to the side of her presentation space listed her principles and provided contacts for others to benefit from the sustainable fabrics and collaborators she’d sourced. ‘There are so many negative things happening with the environment,’ she reflected at her presentation. ‘I remember feeling helpless, because I really didn’t have control over these things. But then realising that the problems we were having were the systems – and that, if there were any systems that I do have control over, it was my responsibility to alter it.’



It should be noted that this new environmental consciousness doesn’t end at the generational divide. You can trace Raeburn’s philosophy back decades earlier, to names like Katharine Hamnett (who sounded the alarm about fashion’s reckless use of resources back in 1989). But few listened to Hamnett’s warnings, and her campaigning derailed her career; ignored when she wasn’t being patronised, she became a marginalised (though impressively persistent) voice. This week, though, Hamnett was back in action, handing over deadstock t-shirts to be customised and overprinted by fellow designer Dr. Noki. Preen, who started out in business among the vintage stalls of Portobello market, patchworked much of their collection together using fabrics from seasons past. And Margaret Howell’s show, with its subtle riffs on the timeless casual basics she’s been refining across four decades, acted as a quietly powerful reminder that the backbone of British fashion has always been businesses that are independent, human-sized, and which have thought about how and where and why they source and produce their ranges.



Of course, there’s still a long way to go, both in terms of the way fashion is made and consumed in general, and in how London chooses to showcase that fashion in the future. (In that regard, Stockholm has thrown down the gauntlet, cancelling its fashion week entirely whilst it explores more sustainable alternatives.) Burberry followed the leads of Gucci and Gabriela Hearst in announcing that their show would be a carbon-neutral production this season – a strategy that seems destined to become the new normal as time goes on. But, headline-grabbing though such big gestures are, what was inspiring about London’s schedule was the smaller, perhaps more painfully-won steps of a generation of younger designers, who have placed sustainability at the heart of everything they do. At Dilara Findikoglu, the designer scrawled ‘VIVIENNE SAYS BUY LESS’ across a model’s chest, in tribute to Westwood’s relentless activism; at Ashish, the show tickets came packaged with endangered wildflower seeds; and at Wright Le Chapelain, where models in upcycled charity-shop donations replanted a Bloomsbury backstreet. There’s even a WhatsApp Group, Vogue reported this week, where designers like English, Findikoglu, and Raeburn pool resources and share information. And that’s what’s perhaps most exciting of all – that London’s new ethical designers aren’t lone voices in an unreceptive wilderness anymore; instead, they’re becoming a powerfully cohesive force.


 Photo By Guillaume Roujas

SHARE
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
SIMILAR ARTICLES
Issey Miyake Releases Exclusive Documentary
By Alice Ierace
Issey Miyake released an unpublished docu-film that shows the birth and evolution of the...
By Alice Ierace
Issey Miyake released an unpublished docu-film that shows the birth and evolution of the collection Homme Plissé Issey Miyake and shares a message of freedom, movement and comfort as new codes for men's clothing.Opening with a scene from Flying Bodies, a video that captures the 2013 performance...
Issey Miyake released an unpublished docu-film that shows the birth and evolution of the collection Homme Plissé Issey Miyake and shares a message of freedom, movement and comfort as new codes for men's clothing.Opening with a scene from Flying Bodies, a video that captures the 2013 performance of the Aomori University Men's Rhythmic Gymnastics Team which marks the debut of the collection, the...
OP-Ed: Is Voice Technology the Future of Retail?
By Elisa Carassai
Will the voice-operated assistant change the way we...
By Elisa Carassai
Will the voice-operated assistant change the way we shop?   The first time I came across Amazon’s Alexa, I was amazed by the fact that a voice-operated assistant could work so well. Having Siri on my iPhone, I had never really made use of the...
Will the voice-operated assistant change the way we shop?   The first time I came across Amazon’s Alexa, I was amazed by the fact that a voice-operated assistant could work so well. Having Siri on my iPhone, I had never really made use of the voice-operated system integrated inside my phone, as it would often fail to correctly execute my...
Cult Scandi Brand Cecilie Bahnsen Debuts Shoe Collection With Charles Keith
By Elisa Carassai
Joining forces this week are designers Charles & Keith and Cecile Bahnsen, who collaborated on an...
By Elisa Carassai
Joining forces this week are designers Charles & Keith and Cecile Bahnsen, who collaborated on an exciting shoe line inspired by traditional school-wear. The collection features some of the most classic Charles & Keith shapes and silhouettes which are reinterpreted by Bahnsen and finished with...
Joining forces this week are designers Charles & Keith and Cecile Bahnsen, who collaborated on an exciting shoe line inspired by traditional school-wear. The collection features some of the most classic Charles & Keith shapes and silhouettes which are reinterpreted by Bahnsen and finished with her signature brooch. Four various styles are featured including three Mary Jane designs and a...
Five CBD Brands That Are Doing it Right
By Ludovica Parisi
CBD is being marketed everywhere. From oils and topicals to edibles, there are now infinite ways...
By Ludovica Parisi
CBD is being marketed everywhere. From oils and topicals to edibles, there are now infinite ways to introduce cannabidiols in your lifestyle. However, as buyers get overwhelmed by the number of products being launched every week, companies have to work harder to stand out from the competition....
CBD is being marketed everywhere. From oils and topicals to edibles, there are now infinite ways to introduce cannabidiols in your lifestyle. However, as buyers get overwhelmed by the number of products being launched every week, companies have to work harder to stand out from the competition. So, what is the strategic approach to ensure people’s trust in a product? The answer lies in the...
Cuoio di Toscana Launches Campaign Against Domestic Violence
By Alice Ierace
Italian sole-leather brand Cuoio di Toscana, alongside many companies and institutions of fashion...
By Alice Ierace
Italian sole-leather brand Cuoio di Toscana, alongside many companies and institutions of fashion and luxury leather goods, shared their the commitment to defend women. “Violence against women does not go into quarantine: at the expense of the current moment of emergency, the numbers affecting...
Italian sole-leather brand Cuoio di Toscana, alongside many companies and institutions of fashion and luxury leather goods, shared their the commitment to defend women. “Violence against women does not go into quarantine: at the expense of the current moment of emergency, the numbers affecting this social injury show no sign of diminishing and, if we consider the case of domestic violence in...
Burberry Reports Significant Revenue Loss
By Rebecca Hitchon
Luxury fashion house Burberry has released its preliminary results for the past financial year...
By Rebecca Hitchon
Luxury fashion house Burberry has released its preliminary results for the past financial year ending 28th March, revealing the impact of COVID-19 on the business.Although the report discusses positive responses to its SS20 and AW20 collections and sales higher than expected earlier in the...
Luxury fashion house Burberry has released its preliminary results for the past financial year ending 28th March, revealing the impact of COVID-19 on the business.Although the report discusses positive responses to its SS20 and AW20 collections and sales higher than expected earlier in the year, the outbreak of COVID-19 in late January negatively affected the financial year. Store closures,...
Meryll Rogge’s Last Days of Disco
By Elisa Carassai
New York has always been a source of inspiration for...
By Elisa Carassai
New York has always been a source of inspiration for creatives. From writers, to artists, poets and designers, the city that never sleeps always seems to provide the right canvas for the creation of the most exciting ventures.   One of these...
New York has always been a source of inspiration for creatives. From writers, to artists, poets and designers, the city that never sleeps always seems to provide the right canvas for the creation of the most exciting ventures.   One of these creatives is 35-year-old Meryll Rogge. A former student of Walter Van Beirendock at Antwerp’s Academy...
Hindsight: Yale Photography On Sexuality and Mundanity
By Sasha Regazzoni
“When you think of your insides, do you imagine a river or...
By Sasha Regazzoni
“When you think of your insides, do you imagine a river or a volcano or … ? What is pleasure without climax? Can there be art without ego?”   In the opening essay of ‘Hindsight’, Yale School of Art’s 2020 MFA Photography graduate show which...
“When you think of your insides, do you imagine a river or a volcano or … ? What is pleasure without climax? Can there be art without ego?”   In the opening essay of ‘Hindsight’, Yale School of Art’s 2020 MFA Photography graduate show which launched last week, writer and visual artist Carmen Winant poses a series of “Questions for...