Text Elisheba Akalawu
Fashion Weeks throughout the year are deliciously flamboyant affairs that are centred around the designs of the season (duh), the exclusive events and the guest-lists buzzing with the creme de la creme of the fashion industry. But here’s a pause for thought: what about all that rubbish, from all those people, all those brands and all those parties? Think clothes packaging, set design, transportation, food and drink waste, and if we dare to think pre-show preparation, all the scrap materials, cut-offs and the clothes from last season, the list could go on. What exactly happens to all that trash? Where does it go?
These questions only scratch the surface of the bigger issue surrounding the role fashion production has to play in our current climate crisis. This discussion is what’s fuelled the geniuses’ behind the Absolut Vodka thinktank to address this issue head-on and in an innovative fashion. Wanting to celebrate Absolut’s long-standing commitment to sustainability and the release of their new 40% recycled glass bottles, waste was collected from LFW parties, various catwalk backstage areas and local bars, and recycled into LFW’s first Absolut Trash runway. 12 fashion-forward and climate conscious designers were given the chance to debut their designs to a lively crowd at the iconic Protein Studios in the heart of Shoreditch. It was a valuable experience that opened LFW to the general public – not just the trendy elite and gave consumers the opportunity to try on sustainability for size and make their own runway debut!
The designers praised Absolut’s mission to bring together like-minded individuals in the fight against making fashion better for our planet, agreeing that prominent fashion houses in the industry must become more transparent with their supply-chains if fashion is to move forward and have a better impact on our environment. At a time where sustainability can be used inadequately and as a green-washing technique, the designers felt honoured to work with a brand that has sustainable practice and a clean operation down to its core.
It was a lively event that made fashion, especially sustainable fashion, fun, approachable and accessible to all, “we don’t want [sustainable fashion] to feel inaccessible, or just like a niche sector of fashion that is only reserved for a select few. We want people to feel like they’re part of this movement – a vibe that was totally captured by this event,” commented Sarah Krause of Esfera. And I couldn’t agree more! I had the opportunity to get a little more insight into the ethos behind a few of the brands. Thank you Absolut for curating a great evening that brought people together all in the name of fashion, and a very tasty (and sustainable) cocktail!
Through fashion reconstruction @revivalldn is centred around textile waste and innovation. Using reclaimed fabrics and and offcuts Rosette Ale has created a line that is cutting-edge, demonstrating that sustainable fashion can be and is sexy. The Absolut collab gave her a chance to discuss with like-minded consumers the inspiration behind her designs – “people were intrigued about how to wear the garments so I was able to explain some of the pieces to them. That was really important to me as some of my pieces are a bit quirky!” As someone who has always been turning trash into treasure, Rosette’s been customising clothes since back in sixth form, the primary goal with her line is to tackle widespread textile waste in the fashion industry, educate consumers on clothing repair and encourage more conscious shopping. This comes at a time where more people are moving away from traditional fashion practices, “LFW this year doesn’t feel like it’s popping as much as anymore as more and more alternative fashion shows are popping up and the LFW period doesn’t feel like it’s just for the elite anymore, which is great! People are looking for more than the high fashion shows and want to be inspired by garments which are more sustainable and worn by models which look more like themselves.”
Think about how many clothes you have in your wardrobe – now think about cutting it down to just 8 items. Seem impossible? Well, not for @P.i.C_Style_ founder Rhonda Chan; By creating a conscious capsule collection she’s used just eight pieces which can be created into 50+ outfits,“I wanted a collection which was timeless, space-saving, practical and versatile, which was also minimising impact on the environment.” The collection is purposefully designed with slow fashion in mind. The use of locally made and sourced organic fabrics, as well as select deadstock materials, ensures the collection is comfortable, quality, trans-seasonal and giving back – “it’s time to stop over-buying and instead choose stuff you love and invest in it. P.i.C believes there is a better way,” – this is #fashionforthefuture. Being minimalist didn’t happen overnight for the founder but she admitted that although “it’s something I’ve adapted into, it’s great to be able to put together an outfit so quickly – aside space-saving it’s also time-saving!” Now, doesn’t that sound like a dream.
CAFIN believe in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure. “We value people and the planet,” simply puts Paul Donati, founder of Catching A Fish In Norway – otherwise known as the @cafincollective. The collective of creative individuals, made up of designers, artists, illustrators and photographers was established with the intention of promoting young UK talent through creative collaboration. Based on Scandanavian ecological well-being, CAFIN clothes are 100% Fairtrade, 100% organic and aim to be completely transparent throughout their supply chain – something they’ve identified as a massive problem in our current fashion industry which tends to be opaque, exploitative and environmentally damaging. “There’s a lot of issues in the world that we generally accept as the norm, such as deadstock from fashion houses being torn up or burnt – which is unbelievable – we’ve accepted that scraps will get thrown in the bin, but this is actually an issue,” comments Paul, who is in the process of creating an app that encourages people to source seamstresses and people to repair garments, instead of just throwing them away.
At the event the clothes weren’t the only tools used to give form to what sustainability looks like, make-up artist Halima Blacker’s (@makeupsurgery) intentions behind the make-up was to “[represent] the significance of the ongoing responsibility in standing up for ethical and sustainable products as well as considering the foundations on which an ethical movement can grow out of and expand.” Creative movements and using art as a means to communicate political discourse is a beneficial way to inspire change – Paul encourages young people to think about exactly what is their trying to achieve and to “just do it.”
Accessible sustainable garments for the eco-conscious, fashion-forward woman from upcycled and regenerative fabrics is what characterises Sarah Krause’s brand @esfera_uk, “when fibres are grown through Regenerative Agriculture, we’re able to capture excess carbon in our atmosphere and store it in the soil where it belongs. The result of this is clothing that is actually carbon-negative, which means it’s actually climate-beneficial.” This strong ethos and designer Sarah Seb’s experience of upcycling discarded vintage dresses, made collaboration a natural choice for the two. With intentional practice the fashion industry can be less wasteful and a truly powerful force in saving the planet; If brands commit to not using plastic-based fibres and chemical dyes, establish transparent supply chains and ensure workers are paid fair and in safe work conditions, they have the power of taking waste and using it in mutually beneficial ways for the planet and the consumer, “there’s a lot to be done, but with the rise in conscious consumers that are genuinely committed to safeguarding our planet, I’m confident that we’re heading in the right direction.”