London Fashion Week’s spring/summer 2020 schedule served up its usual plethora of innovative, creative talent. Yet with the true cost of the industry now impossible to ignore, climate change protesters called on the British Fashion Council to cancel the fashion calendar's most important event to hold accountable the industry's contribution to the climate crisis that looms over us all. Given the impact London Fashion Week has on consumption, knowing the right designers to invest your money in for pieces that are designed and produced to pass the test of time is one of the most sustainable ways to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to environmentally-friendly shopping.
Both emerging talents and established favourites faced up to the challenge, presenting collections that excite with their embrace of both style and sustainability. Use our sustainable edit of London Fashion Week to shop your spring/summer staples whilst alleviating any green guilt.
Staging their first ever runway, jewellery label Alighieri’s SS20 collection is an exploration of worldwide cultures inspired by research of tribes across Africa, South America and Mongolia. With a name inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, narrative is key to these modern heirlooms that celebrate the beauty in imperfections. Described as her most explicitly personal collection yet, all the pieces are made in London by hand from recycled bronze ethically sourced in Italy, through the process of lost-wax casting. Plus, in response to the coronavirus outbreak, Alighieri are donating 20% of website sales to the Trussell Trust, who are supporting Food Banks around the UK.
Luna del Pinal
For outerwear with artisanal craftspersonship at its core, look no further than the handwoven jackets of Luna del Pinal. Gabriela Luna and Corina del Pinal spend two months of each year working with local northern Guatemalan craftspeople in order to ensure complete transparency in regards to how and by whom their garments are made. This slow fashion model focuses on the longevity of each piece rather than how quickly production can be turned out. By keeping alive traditional indigenous techniques that support and promote the artisans and mindful consumption, ethical fashion has never looked or felt so good. lunadelpinal.com
Social commentary was key to Dilara Findikoglu’s occult-inspired SS20 catwalk, taking aim at the negative impacts of consumption on climate change. Utilising studio scraps and vintage garments, Dilara’s use of environmentally-friendly materials means that she estimates 60-75% of her SS20 collection is sustainably made, hand-woven and dyed in Turkey by a women’s collective. Dilara’s commitment to sustainability in both message and practice, along with her rebellious aesthetic, ensures she is a designer making waves in the industry. dilarafindikoglu.com
Phoebe English paved the way for other designers with the staging of her SS20 collection, offering notes and swatches detailing sustainable suppliers and the processes used in the production of the garments featured. With the issue of greenwashing so rife in the fashion industry and all other industries too, it is refreshing to see a designer putting the pressures on the planet ahead of personal profit, using her insight and knowledge to help other brands become more sustainable. Each garment has been produced using recycled, re-purposed or ethically-sourced fabrics, and buttons were created using milk proteins or corozo nuts to combat the use of animal products or plastics. Rejecting the concept of fast fashion, Phoebe English once again schools the industry on how it's done. phoebeenglish.com
“Nothing should be considered luxurious or desirable that is harmful and exploitative,” says 29 year old designer Richard Malone, who sources the material he uses from a community of female weavers in Tamil Nadu, southern India. The use of ancient jacquard looming skills celebrates the beauty of slow fashion and promotes timelessness over trends as key to great style. Working strongly against mass-production, Malone’s sculptural designs are changing the conversation on consumption, announcing after the show that his collections will be numbered rather than keeping up with the demands of the traditional schedule. londonfashionweek.co.uk
Their sustainability practices have been far from desirable in the past, but fashion-powerhouse Burberry have committed to a more environmentally-friendly future, ushered in by their carbon-neutral SS20 show. Having offset their impacts, such as the flights of guests travelling to London specifically for the show and the build and production of the event, Burberry has pledged to donating to a number of projects which prevent deforestation and conserve parts of the Amazonian jungle. Named the leading brand in the 2018 Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Burberry has pledged to stop destroying unsold clothes, end the use of animal fur in its products and has partnered with sustainable luxury company Elvis and Kresse to upcycle 120 tonnes of wasted leather offcuts.
It's clear positive steps in the right direction are being taken by a handful of designers and brands. Let's encourage this of all fashion brands by demanding transparency and necessary change; then we can hope that the rest of the industry will follow Burberry’s example in creating a more sustainable future for fashion.