Whilst showcasing collections from over 250 designers to a global audience, London Fashion Week is part of the waste in fashion conversation, whether it would like to be or not. Brewer Street Car Park - the British Fashion Council's base for the 5 days in September, complete with its neighbouring locations for shows, exhibitions and pop ups, caters to over 5,000 visitors including buyers, TV & radio crews, journalists and photographers.
Ethically sourced food from The Store Kitchen and a recycling bins aside, not much is visible on the sustainable event production side, whilst other fashion weeks, namely Portland's, stay innovatively ahead of the game. With recycling bases, eco friendly materials for the models, a bamboo runway and recycled material used for drapery as standard, Portland Fashion Week has been spotted at the races, flying a very green flag, even using its platform to collect used clothing and shoes for charity.
It doesn't end there. Portland Fashion Week runs a programme to offset the entire event's carbon footprint by planting over 5,000 native trees and nearly 4,000 shrubs respectively which is truly groundbreaking and innovative. With one global fashion week alone able to strum up over 30,000 miles driven between shows by provided sponsored cars, this initiative makes Portland Fashion Week the world's only carbon negative fashion week, and seeing how London will step up is a watch-this-space moment. The opportunity to move the needle and address waste as part of a wider conversation becomes even more pertinent in light of the fact that London Fashion Week is sponsored by companies such as Evian Water and Carabao energy drink; each season these brands generate a large volume of plastic on the grounds, with 20,000 bottles of Evian Water consumed at London Fashion Week last September alone. With recent studies warning that by 2050 there could be more plastic in the oceans than fish, as landfill sites expand on one side, plastics clog the ocean on the other, so yes plastic waste remains the elephant in the room. During London Fashion Week, Vivienne Westwood joined Suzy Amis Cameron at St Martins Lane Hotel; earlier in the year, the pair collaborated on Amis Cameron's Red Carpet Green Dress project, which placed actor, model and eco activist Lily Cole on the red carpet at the Oscars in a dress made from recycled plastic.
In 2014 Amis Cameron's campaign worked alongside will.i.am's EKOCYCLE, an initiative turning plastic bottles into cutting edge fashion - in the hope that by encouraging others to see waste with a fresh pair of eyes, innovation might be fostered. Responsible for dressing many of the bloggers attending London Fashion Week, even ASOS are in the game with their Eco Edit, which features a range of affordable fashion pieces made with recycled plastic (RPET). In London for the launch of his premium bluetooth wireless EP headphones - part of a collaboration with independent fashion boutique Farfetch, hip-hop artist and entrepreneur will.i.am joined in the conversation by stating, "I always say that waste is only waste if you waste it; when it comes to evaluating the impact of waste within the fashion industry I think that we all need to shift our mindsets."
Truly moving the concept of waste to an innovative place is Cradle to Cradle (C2C), an institute focused on helping to make products safer and more sustainable for our planet; by looking to nature for design inspiration and reflecting how nature wastes nothing, C2C continue to cover new ground in the waste conversation.
Cradle to Cradle's recent volume pooling initiative, 'Fashion Positive PLUS', invites members to jointly assess and develop a materials library and add value by designing circular systems using biodegradeable, safe, intelligent nutrients for products. By encouraging shared intelligence around materials, dyes, trims and yarns, C2C is using a crowd-sourcing approach with a circular economy mentality (the idea that we maximise our utilisation of resources, and then recover and regenerate them at the end of the product life service). When trade secrets become a shared USP, waste is directly impacted - whether through the identification of a 'new' waste product for input, or merely as a result of less wasted time, money and research. These are exciting times, and whether you see waste as a problem or opportunity, the fashion industry will get so much further if we go through the bins together.
Read more from Samata here. This post is part of our "Reclaim" initiative, which showcases solutions to the issue of fashion waste and engages our readers to take action. You can find all the posts in this initiative, as well as feature pieces, investigative stories and video, here. Follow the initiative on Twitter at #Reclaim.