Fashion Month has passed, with some truly eye-catching looks. From Bella Hadid’s spray-on dress for Coperni or Cher closing the runway for Balmain, there’s no doubt that the SS23 will be remembered for a while to come. However, in the wake of these collections, there has been talk of the European Union reducing fashion shows by 2030 on their mission to be more sustainable.
The report was first mentioned by Pambianco News and an article has since been shared by NSS Magazine with additional information. It was said that the EU would be “taking steps to curb polluting production processes and energy waste within the fashion industry,” by reducing show schedules, producing fabrics that are durable and recyclable, and using responsible waste disposal.
NSS Magazine also had a quote from the head of Estonia’s EU delegation herself, Vivian Loonela, who said that the EU needs “a sustainable textile strategy, with the goal of diverting as many items as possible from store shelves and people’s closets to recycling and reuse programs by 2030.” This seems like a sensible premise, especially since the article gave the figure of approximately 11 kilograms of textiles per year being discarded by each person in the EU.
But as there’s little to no information released about this prospect; we know nothing about their strategies really other than to reduce show schedules at the Fashion Weeks held in the EU (Paris and Milan). A Forbes article on this year’s New York Fashion Week listed some of the biggest problems to do with the fashion industry’s sustainability namely greenwashing, the Higg index, data protocols, and labour rights. One would assume that these things will factor into the EU’s mission of tackling sustainability in the fashion industry, rather than just limiting the number of shows a week.
A good place to look would be the UK’s Sustainable Fashion Week which was also held this year in September. The event was run by Amelia Twine and Amber Rochette who wanted to create a sustainable yet accessible fashion movement. They used four key themes – rewear, repurpose, regenerate, reconnect – as the foundation for their event which aimed to share skills and knowledge in order to drive social change at a local level. They included speakers on sustainability, clothes swaps, mending circles, sewing workshops and street stitching, as well as their own fashion shows to create a function with the same duration as one of the big four Fashion Weeks entirely focused on sustainability.
Most fashion enthusiasts will be aware, to an extent, of the lack of sustainability involved in the industry. Despite the apparel business’ worth of $1.5 trillion, every step forward seems to be faced with two steps back. It is responsible for over 2-10% of global carbon emissions, being the second most damaging industry to the planet (behind only the oil industry) and greenwashing its consumers so they are led to believe that a company is more environmentally friendly than it actually is. This alone is without taking into consideration the major fast fashion brands such as SHEIN that push out up to 10 000 items per day.
There is no right answer. There is no one way to dramatically improve sustainability in the industry, but is cutting back fashion shows the best move? In our opinion, no. Brands should be looking at using more sustainable fabrics like cotton or recycled polyester and nylon in their clothing, carbon-neutral runway shows (as Dior did in 2020), and donating to charities like the Rainforest Alliance. Nearly 150 brands already joined French President Macron’s ‘Fashion Pact’ back in 2019, so is the EU reducing show schedules just a more extreme extension of this? Perhaps. Hopefully, more information about their plan will be made available soon.