With more and more focus on sustainability, contributors to London Fashion Week have had to seriously up their game in recent seasons. Since going fur free in 2018, huge strides have been made to introduce not just a focus on sustainable fashion, it’s no longer enough to just state it and make a few changes. Designers are now expected to produce ethical collections; from the way fabric is manufactured or sourced, to the distance it travels to reach a studio. Fibre miles are every bit as important as conscious collections, circular fashion and the wages that are paid to those involved along the way. Sustainability is everywhere in fashion right now. What once was a buzzword thrown around for quick credit, has become a status symbol amongst some of the biggest fashion houses out there and some, like British designer Phoebe English are setting a stellar example.
Creative designers who are fully invested in sustainability are shunning the fashion calendar’s ‘seasons’ in favour of an annual collection produced in a far more environmentally economical way, resulting in less air travel, fibre miles and carbon emissions, opting for the slow fashion model which spends more time on ethical sourcing of dead stock, off cuts and foraged fabrics which can be hand dyed using hand collected natural and native ingredients to produce very specific colours which have not only meaning, but relevance to where they were collected and produced. Phew, deep breath. Basically sustainability as a whole picture, is king right now.
This SS24 season has seen the words “sustainable” “circular” and “reworked” used more times than ever before and a quick search on Instagram tells us that these terms are searched for more and more frequently when it comes to updating our wardrobes as the end user. More than just a buzzword, clients want to know more than just where their clothes were made, but with what, by whom and how far it has travelled, what chemicals were used during production and how it got to be that “sunflower yellow” colour.
Of course there have long been the stalwarts like the afore mentioned Phoebe English who has championed every aspect of circular fashion since her graduate collection in 2011, through to Paul Costello’s who produces a “shop window” style collection meaning that the collection you see on the runway is produced to show you what you can request if you like what you see. Nothing at all is produced in wholesale or stored in large volumes completely eliminating waste from the process but remaining accessible to serious buyers.
On the “trendier” end of the scale, designers like Jayne Pierson and Stuart Trevor are producing edgy, even fun collections which tell a story, but maintain those sustainable production credits. Trevor with his reworked vintage collection is a perfect example of this and with his collaborations with up and coming artists this works as a kind of “ethical handshake”.
Whether you buy fast fashion at online chains, or high street fashion in physical stores, there’s no denying the (electric) juggernaut that is the sustainable model for slow fashion, the anti-thesis to the archetypical fast fashion the British buying public seemed to enjoy pre-pandemic. However now, post-pandemic, as we’ve all seemed to slow down our overly Fast paced lives, isn’t it time we did the same for our wardrobes?