London Fashion Week: Ethics & Sustainability

You could be forgiven for thinking that the fashion industry isn’t the best friend of the planet. Much of what we hear in the news highlights the mountains of waste, the colossal amounts of water used in clothing production and it seems we’re personally responsible for the tiny polyester particles that find their way into the water supply when we wash clothes! That’s why it was so refreshing to see the efforts of The Sustainable Angle at their annual Future Fabrics Expo in the Discovery Lab at London Fashion Week. Here you can see the amazing work being done behind the scenes to harness the wasted fibres from food production, and the technology used to develop bio-degradable decorative trims. The materials span traditional low-impact wools, leathers and cottons through to fabrics developed from pineapple, orange, banana and apples fibres. I was amazed by the quality of fabrics on offer, the feel of leathers that have been produced by fish skin or emerged from mushroom-type spores has to be seen to be believed. The impressive list of designers at London Fashion Week currently using these fabrics include: Alice Temperley, Edeline Lee, Emilia Wickstead, Felder + Felder, Galvan, Georgie MacIntyre x Arizona Muse and Roland Mouret.

It is so heartening to see London Fashion Week promoting these positive changes in the fashion industry. Over in the Freemasons’ Hall, the Fashion for Conservation catwalk event was tapping into recycling and using waste fabric to create couture-quality fashion. The creative director, Nazanine Afshar explains that it isn’t enough to just create pretty fashion campaigns and couture collections – “As advocates of the arts, we have the responsibility to use the power of fashion branding and the available media outlets to spread important messages and to promote causes around the world that have a direct effect on the future of our planet!”

Jenny Holloway from Fashion Capital started a conversation about production practices in the fashion industry – ‘What is an ethical factory’ hosted by Fashions Finest. Her personal journey through failure and success, and her openness to discuss everything, from the effects on her workforce after the Brexit referendum, to personal details about how her marriage survived through the struggles of running a business, was both refreshing and honest. These stories are an important backdrop to the very successful business she now runs at Fashion Enter, which boasts an impressive 3 million (GBP) turnover. Jenny’s love of manufacturing is genuine and her attachment to the many small businesses she advises is obvious. If you’re a small start-up interested in ethical production in the UK – look no further.

Anyway, I’m off plogging in my activewear made from recycled polyester in an ethical factory!

Lester is the co-founder of Trendzine and creative director of the Trendzoom Forecasting Service.

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