Fashion must take a stand against climate change, as protests and collections at Fashion Weeks show

Fashion Weeks in two of the world’s most prominent “fashion capitals” – New York and London – have been upstaged by something more powerful and more “influential” than it – the truth and in this case, the truth about climate change.

More than 100 climate change activists from Extinction Rebellion joined a march on Sunday in a bid to disrupt London Fashion Week – calling on the fashion industry to halt trends of excessive consumption and urging the British Fashion Council to declare a climate emergency.

Clothing production has more than doubled globally in 15 years, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Moreover, in the UK consumers are buying twice as much as 15 years ago.

Environmental action group Extinction Rebellion organised protests at several of London Fashion Week venues to highlight the throwaway nature of the fashion industry.

Clare Farrell, a founding member of Extinction Rebellion, said: “Everybody needs clothes, but we don’t need as many clothes as we make today. The reason why we’re going to the fashion industry is because it is one of the most polluting on earth. It is using a vast quantity of the carbon budget that we have left to produce products that we don’t need.”

Climate change is a subject that some in the fashion industry are consciously aware of, and they are using their influence towards positive change. Last week, creative entrepreneur and designer Luka Sabbat launched his Unfortunately, Ready to Wear collection – a set of innovative and futuristic fashion essentials designed to adapt to the current climate change threats. The collection, which was presented during New York Fashion Week at the Milk Gallery Exhibition, sends the message that if the environmental crisis does not improve these items will go from novelty to necessity.

Luka Sabbat said: “If it comes down to the world burning down, who gives a shit about a pair of jeans that looks cool?”

At London Fashion Week on Sunday as protesters staged demonstrations, legendary fashion designer and environmental activist Vivienne Westwood returned to the catwalk after two years of digital presentations. For Vivienne Westwood’s Autumn/Winter collection, models, activists and actors took to the runway wearing aprons with anti-consumerist and climate change slogans.

The British designer works closely with several environmental groups, including Greenpeace, with whom she partnered with in 2014 for the organisation’s Save the Arctic campaign. Vivienne Westwood also has her own anti-global warming website, Climate Revolution.

Extinction Rebellion has announced an International Extinction Rebellion Week, due to start from 15 April, which intends to “pressure governments to take emergency action on the climate and ecological crisis”.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about sustainable lifestyle and green living for publications, and offers content services to planet-friendly businesses. Find out more at 

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