Since 2018, Extinction Rebellion have been using non-violent direct action to demand the government ends its criminal inaction on the climate emergency. If you could advise government policy to set new sustainability standards for the fashion industry, where would you start? What changes are necessary for genuinely sustainable fashion?

The World is on Fire

by Laragh McCann
IG: @100percentreloved_

This September, Extinction Rebellion will attempt to shut down London Fashion Week in a bid to raise awareness of the environmental destruction caused by the fashion industry. They have written to the British Fashion Council asking that it be cancelled, adding “We have disruptive actions planned during LFW and we will be ending LFW with a funeral finale”.

Do you agree with the proposed disruption, and do you think cancelling LFW will make the fashion world stop and listen?

On Friday, September 13th London Fashion Week 2019 will commence as usual. Meanwhile our world is on fire. Most people can agree lucrative events based on consumption of material things we don’t need during the current existential climate crisis is not our priority. One could go a step further and say it’s a kind of madness entrenched in denial, with profoundly lethal consequences.

It certainly sounds appealing to think that Fashion Week is a chance for designers to express their initiatives to save our planet and change the system. However in this day and age with social media, and the likes of Depop we can cause a powerful ruckus by challenging the status quo and starting from scratch ourselves.

Sticking with the fashion giants will be the equivalent of staying on the Titanic and looking at the iceberg looming ahead. We need to decentralise, abandon ship to smaller boats, and start again.

When we know deeply what is going on with the climate crisis and fashion’s part in it (fashion is more polluting then the aviation and shipping industries combined) the shows no longer hold the joy or escapism they once did. Instead they perpetuate a deep feeling of cognitive dissonance; glittering runways with voiceless models are no longer in line with what we need to survive – on numerous levels.

We need women to step into their power as soon as possible which means believing in more than fashion’s glorified and profoundly limiting image of them on a runway. 

To boycott Fashion week? I’m all for it – at least the threat of it to give the industry a fright. Stopping fashion week will not harm creativity, or opportunities for new brands carving sincere sustainable paths, or even those intangible parts that make fashion special.

If anything, the best parts of fashion will be enhanced in the storm.

Rigid, numerical systems holding the industry in place are now unavoidably too entrenched in dark business. Weighed down by their own production levels, they don’t inspire much faith in the new generation of kids coming into the foray emboldened with clever, colourful and urgent banners revealing their snowballing awareness and anxiety surrounding the climate disaster.

If fashion was used in its most effective way and harnessed by clean, circular systems (as is happening already by the youth on Depop) it can be an incredibly galvanising and hopeful force, communicating our position with no words needed.

True style has nothing to do with fast fashion or a calendar, and will flourish without it. Forging one’s wardrobe through life can be done with garments found in the most beautiful places – in our ancestors closets, from friends, in market stalls, on our own sewing table or made by artisans we admire.

It is in those places we can discover our personal identity and take part in the cultures where we feel at home. True style is far more nuanced then getting a dress on a sales rack, that costs nothing, but took thousands of litres of water to make, took advantage of the person who made it and that only really gave us a momentary hit followed by emptiness.

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