Green fashion shows: possible or utopia?

Anastasia Kuznetsova

By Anastasia Kuznetsova28 septembre 2023

How much energy and resources are used for a fashion show that usually lasts just a handful of minutes? The question raised by environmentalists and green-minded people is clear - what is the cost-benefit of these enormous productions?

We must give credit to fashion brands that are making efforts to become more environmentally conscious. In 2022, Stella McCartney staged the most eco-friendly fashion show ever, with 87% of the garments in the collection made sustainably with recycled materials, vegan leather, and solvent-free crystals, as well as reducing carbon emissions generated by the production . The sum of all the fashion shows’ carbon emissions between Paris, Milano, New York and London amounts to around 241.000 tons of CO2. Another complex issue is the disposal of sets used in shows. Much like theater and dance performances, fashion shows have theatrical elements and often use single-use sets which are destroyed after the event. Once the show is over (they last on average 15 to 35 minutes) what happens to these materials?

Fashion is above all a creative practice, and there is a desperate need for creative solutions to these issues. Some endeavors are already happening in the music festival space. Major players are exploring partnerships with sustainable means of transport such as trains: the electronic music festival DGTL, held between Amsterdam and Barcelona, encourages and incentivizes artists and attendees to travel by train. Milano, Paris and London are among the best-connected cities by trains, with networks that could be exploited to move people between shows during fashion weeks, greatly reducing emissions from transport. Brands could team up to create designer trains travelling to and from fashion hubs, providing a unique and branded experience for travelers, including special events organized on the train during travel.

Finding creative solutions to reduce the waste generated by fashion, implementing policies to recycle sets, collaborating with other cultural spaces such as theaters, contemporary art institutions and small-scale designers could lead to the emergence of a circular, sustainable economic model. A future where creativity, beauty and sustainability work together for a better world is possible. Let’s go and get it.

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