EARTH, WIND AND FINANCE: Sustainability dominated the conversation during a reception at Number 10 Downing Street where the British Fashion Council touted the upcoming launch of its Institute of Positive Fashion and brands talked about the eco-moves they are making.
Guests from across the industry, including Harrods’ Michael Ward, Walpole’s Helen Brocklebank, Christopher Raeburn, Bonnie Takhar, Rejina Pyo, Wil Beedle, Roland Mouret, Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou, Marco Gobbetti, Fabrizio Zappaterra and Anne Pitcher, gathered at the British government’s HQ at the end of the five-day fashion showcase.
The week was a challenging one, with Storm Dennis blasting icy wind and rain through town and the coronavirus keeping Asian retailers and press away, and damaging sales of British goods in the region.
But the industry has bigger problems to solve, and designers and leaders appear determined to make big changes this year in particular.
BFC chair Stephanie Phair said that beyond coronavirus, beyond Brexit and Storm Dennis, the priority is the “sustainability of the planet.” She urged her colleagues to “collaborate and come to the table” and asked the British government to “unlock resources and fiscal incentives” to help companies make the necessary changes.
Later this year, the BFC plans to launch the Institute of Positive Fashion, which is meant to support businesses in adopting better business practices aligned with environment, people, craftsmanship and community.
This season, the organization hosted the Positive Fashion Exhibition with brands showcasing their efforts in the sustainability and community space. It featured a Swap Shop by Patrick McDowell with Global Fashion Exchange, where guests could bring a used item of clothing from their wardrobe to exchange.
As a taster, on Tuesday evening, the BFC also released a digital “positive change” map that highlights global initiatives addressing the industry’s impact on the planet.
Britain’s new culture secretary Oliver Dowden attended in place of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and said it was important the BFC and the British government alike embrace the agenda of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, which will take place in Glasgow in November.
Meanwhile, designers and brands have been working behind the scenes to enact change: Beedle, the creative chief at AllSaints and founder of Shoreditch Ski Club, said the latter is using fully sustainable fabrics made from recycled polyester or nylon. He added that plastic from 10 bottles going into each of the brand’s down jackets.
Beedle also said AllSaints’ India-based tanneries are now recycling water, while the brand is BCI, or Better Cotton Initiative, compliant. Asked about the difficulty of sourcing and working with eco-materials and factories, he said: “It’s all there. You just have to ask for it, and find it.”
Roland Mouret is also ringing the changes. “It’s like a detox right now, and we can never go back to the way fashion was. We have to find new ways of working,” he said. Earlier this week, Mouret revealed that 70 percent of his production is sustainable, as are all of his core fabrics. “We are going to push it further and further. Working like this makes you feel right.”