LONDON — Discussions around sustainability showed no sign of quietening down at London Fashion Week, with the majority of designers shining a spotlight on their eco-friendly actions and targets for the future. Alongside the shows, both the Swedish and Danish embassies hosted breakfast panels on Monday near Hyde Park to spread the word on their mindful efforts in the fashion industry.
Over on Sloane Street, Danish ambassadors opened their doors to the International Fur Federation to shed light on Furmark, the new LVMH- and Kering-backed certification, which will debut later this year, that strives to ensure natural fur is produced sustainably.
As a signifier of top-tier real fur, Furmark will be compliance assured through external assessors, ensuring consumers that their fur is made as sustainably as possible. The hotly debated topic of the production and trade of natural fur was opened up to Gianluca Longo, style editor at British Vogue and Cabana, designer Ineta Joksaite and fur farmers John Papse and Ryan Holt, who shared insight on the realities of using animal fur as fabric.
“When you Google the truth about fur, it doesn’t come with the truth about fur. Going and visiting farms myself and small businesses in Greece where three people work in one place and they are so proud of their work; using tiny scraps of fur left over that are then turned into marvelous pieces by Miu Miu and other brands. It is a really amazing thing that I didn’t know before and it is a matter of brands taking some responsibility and making sure their clothing is meeting the standards in terms of humans and environment,” said Joksaite.
The use of natural fur brings up an array of animal rights issues, but the process of turning natural fur into fabric creates less chemical contamination than its faux counterpart.
Circularity and long-life of natural fur garments were a key talking point; figures from the IFF show that around one third of fur garments are purchased second-hand, 16 percent of fur is restyled and only 12 percent thrown away — while sustainability efforts are increasing in the fur market, the IFF won’t get complacent, they believe there is a long way to go yet.
“Sustainability is becoming part of our general knowledge. It all comes down to information, if you inform people about what they are eating, wearing, the way they drive, it is all about that. You have to feed everyone, all of us, to work much better,” said Longo.
On the other side of the park, Swedish Ambassador Torbjörn Sohlström, organized a roundtable discussion on the Swedish fashion industry’s efforts toward sustainability. Panelists included major Swedish fashion players and start-ups alike, such as H&M creative adviser Margareta van den Bosch, Jakob Dworsky of Asket, and Linda Friberg of AVAVAV Firenze.
Panelists also highlighted their efforts toward making existing clothes last longer.
“We need to put less clothing out there,” says Dworksky, who founded Swedish-based essential clothing label Asket. He spoke about his goal to “lower the consumption in the industry by creating a permanent wardrobe of timeless essentials through a zero compromise approach.”
The label subverts traditional industry sizing by offering a made-to-order service for their upper body garments available 15 sizes instead of the usual four — ensuring that customers get a garment that fits them precisely.
While large-scale production seems to be the antithesis of sustainable fashion, H&M’s van den Bosch made the case for large conglomerates using their size and influence to bring new, sustainable materials to the market.
Van den Bosch highlighted the introduction of grape leather, a new faux leather product made from grape seeds, which was introduced into the brand’s Conscious Collection through the H&M Foundation Innovation Award back in 2017.
Brands may be working to sustainability targets on a mass scale, but elsewhere in the industry buyers, journalists and show-goers alike are working to make a difference. From small changes with reusable water bottles and paperless invites, to the first signs of re-wear culture finally making a comeback, the trend everyone is sporting this season is planet-friendly living. Here’s hoping it never goes out of style.