PARIS — “People were waiting for Paris.”
Following the launch of the sustainable initiative Paris Good Fashion in January, founder Isabelle Lefort received a flood of reactions to the project, which was sparked by the city of Paris and supported by the Institut Français de la mode, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and the Galeries Lafayette.
Six months later, Kering, Chanel, Richemont and SMCP are also now on board, as well as both the French couture and ready-to-wear federations, textile trade show Première Vision and even fashion model Arizona Muse.
“It revealed there has clearly been a global awakening, but now everyone needs to sit round a table to discuss and exchange ideas for concrete actions,” Lefort told WWD on the day of the unveiling of just what concrete actions Paris Good Fashion is striving to put in place.
One of these is a roadmap toward a more sustainable fashion industry, to be unveiled officially in January and implemented over the next four years – the projected end date of Paris Good Fashion is the 2024 edition of the Olympic Games, which will be held in the French capital. Themes include clean energy, water use, eco-fabrics as well as greener distribution and event management, establishing guidelines to be put in practice by all members of Paris Good Fashion.
Five additional groups of action were revealed during the press conference, which was held at IFM on Tuesday. One of them — made up of a group of 13 members including LVMH environment director Sylvie Bénard; Kering chief sustainability officer Marie-Claire Daveu; Pascal Morand of the French Couture Federation, and two representatives of Alexandre de Betak’s event production company Bureau Betak — will focus on looking to make Paris Fashion Week more sustainable.
“Even if its negative impact on a global level isn’t as important as, say, water pollution or plastic waste, it’s a capital subject,” Lefort said. “This is Paris we are talking about: The capital of international fashion, with the biggest number of fashion shows and events — and an increasing number of cars shuttling guests throughout the city during fashion week.”
De Betak, speaking at the press conference, stressed the high visibility Paris Fashion Week has worldwide, and the importance for the fashion capital to set a sustainable example.
“A fashion show is an incredibly efficient communication tool,” said the event producer, who had just come back from organizing the Jacquemus spring 2020 show in Provence, France. “They are very visible and broadcast worldwide. We need to use that to show our engagement.”
The group’s first meeting in March showed how simple communication between parties could be the first step toward a greener fashion week.
“One of the biggest subjects is what to do with the sets once the fashion show is over,” Lefort said. “Usually teams need to dismantle them overnight and dispose of them immediately, and most recycling charities aren’t open late.”
Turns out LVMH launched a repurposing platform 10 years ago, which is currently open for other companies to use to dispose of unwanted show sets, furniture and window displays, Bénard told the rest of the group. Problem solved?
“There already was awareness, but up until now, there was no collective presence on the theme of sustainability,” Bénard said during a phone interview. “Paris Good Fashion offers concrete solutions on the long term and not just one shot actions, repositioning Paris at the center of responsible fashion.”
Another issue is energy supply: After establishing a Life Cycle Assessment of both a fashion show and a trade show, evaluating just how much energy is used during those events, the work group is planning to collaborate with both green energy suppliers — a lot of fashion shows use their own electricity generators, which are incredibly energy-costly — and Eau de Paris, the city’s water supply, as well as looking into cleaner transport.
“If you look at a show like Yves Saint Laurent spring 2019, which was presented at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and whose set needed three weeks to be completed, that’s a lot of bottles of water given out to the staff preparing the setup,” Lefort said. “It took the crew a whole week to be connected to the local water supply, so that people could come with their own reusable water bottle and limit plastic waste. We’re looking to create an address book with all the relevant contacts, in order to help this sort of initiative become systematic.”
The next group meeting is planned for July, with resulting measures to be unveiled in January.
The four other works groups deal with creating a Paris map of sustainable businesses, whether they be green fashion labels and boutiques, dry cleaners, recycling plants or repair shops; coaching young designers to incorporate sustainable practices in their business models; the re-energization of the French wool industry, and finally the launch of two prizes in collaboration with Eyes on Talent — one awarding sustainable designers, the other sustainability-focused image makers.
Five other work groups are set to be unveiled throughout the year, including an initiative specially commissioned by Kering dealing with animal welfare.
“Animal welfare is one of the objectives of our 2025 roadmap,” explained Daveu about the future work group. “Recent studies and discussions on social media have also shown that it is a theme clients, Millennials and Gen Zers are particularly concerned with. Creating a work group within Paris Good Fashion is one of the ways to raise awareness and engage the entire fashion and luxury section on the subject.”