Autumn Winter 2020 Fashion Weeks: Our Sustainable and Ethical Roundup

Olivia Gecseg Monday, 16 March 2020

Fashion weeks are a staple of the industry and the runways of the ‘big four’ cities (London, Paris, New York and Milan) still hold powerful sway in predicting the coming trends in what we wear for the seasons ahead.

A recent report into the environmental impact of global Fashion Weeks was the first of its kind and raised many questions around the role this mainstay of the industry plays in contributing to the massive carbon emissions and waste that fashion is now notorious for. In particular, the report highlighted the impact caused by air travel of the designers, models, set designers, editors and other attendees making their way back and forth between the shows, with New York Fashion Week coming out as the major contributor to carbon emissions out of all the shows.

Nevertheless, Fashion Weeks continue to offer a powerful platform for designers to showcase the latest developments in sustainable fashion. In this post, I've chosen my top four picks of sustainable and ethical fashion moments from across the shows.


Swap shop, London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week tends to be a few steps ahead of the rest when it comes to providing a platform for political messages, including issues of sustainability in the industry. Tapping into the unmatched sartorial potential presented by the wardrobes of its stylish attendees, London Fashion Week’s initiative for a swap shop grabbed headlines with its anti-consumerist message. 

Made-to-order, New York Fashion Week

Aiming to counteract the massive amount of waste produced by the fashion industry, reported to contribute to 4% of the world’s total waste each year, made-to-order models work by only producing the quantity of garments pre-ordered by customers. Although tricky to implement on a mass scale, the potential for high-end clothing retailers is great due to the image of made-to-order as something luxury and exclusive.

e1972 is a new made-to-order brand that launched at NYFW, in partnership between Minkoff and Julia Haart. Their slogan, ‘No size fits all’, encapsulates exclusivity and inclusivity all in one take. Haart, who is chief executive of Elite World Group (known primarily for its modelling agency), states that she “wanted to see if there was a way [she] could create a sizeless brand.” (Vogue Business)

Stella McCartney, Paris Fashion Week

Always leading the crowd when it comes to highlighting the latest in sustainable and ethical fashion, Stella Mccartney didn’t disappoint with her parade of outrageous cartoon animal costumes. The message carried by the fun-looking pony, alligator and squirrel characters? To highlight how many runway shows still parade dead versions of these animals in the form of handbags, shoes, coats, and more. The AW Stella Mccartney collection instead included garments and accessories made from vegan leather and recycled plastics.

Stockholm Fashion Week presses pause

Ahead of the Spring Summer shows in 2019, Stockholm Fashion Council announced that it would be placing an indefinite pause on its Fashion Week, until it had found more sustainable ways to stage its bi-annual event. This served a wake up call to the industry and certainly has succeeded in generating in debate about whether Fashion Weeks in general are sustainable - and if they are to continue, how they can clean up their environmental impact?


Feel passionately about the issues raised in this article? Join us for our next free, eco-networking event, taking place at The Marylebone in London on Monday 16th March. Can't make it in person? We live-stream all talks and panel discussions for free online. Simply tune head to this page at the time of the event to take part.