Glamour and sustainability in the runway ? It’s the new fashion week by Valeria Boi


Guests take their seats, the music starts, the lights come on and the fashion show begins...

The models walk one after the other, wearing a triumph of fabrics and colors, a variety of shapes and fit, elements taken from the past and original pieces that create surprise. It’s the fashion week, months of work concentrated in 15 minutes of show that is like a dream for the audience, showing the world the latest creation of fashion brands.

But there is another side of this wonderful show. Fashion week is actually unsustainable, it means carbon emissions in the atmosphere, a lot of non-disposable materials, carbon footprint.

The question therefore arises spontaneously. In this sparkling world where all eyes are focused on the presentation of the collections, could fashion week be open to sustainability? The answer comes from Denmark, with the Copenhagen Fashion Week 2023.

 Her-Age Python Blazer by Gianfranco Ferré in Copenhagen Fashion Week 2023


Danish organisers in 2009 presented a series of sustainability requirements for designers, in order to be allowed to show in 2023. 

Cecilie Thorsmark, the chief executive officer of Copenhagen Fashion Week, defined these requirements, including the rule that 50% of the collection must be made using recycled and upcycled materials. Any unsold stock from previous collections cannot be destroyed, but introduced in the circular economy by the brands. And this is far from fashion brands who often destroy fabric scraps and items unsold in order to stop them from being sold at low prices, keeping the exclusivity of their products.
Brands guarantee safe working conditions and adequate pay, giving dignity and value to every worker.

Introducing these requirements was not easy. An industry of experts chose 28 designers who met these requirements to be part f the Copenhagen fashion week 2023. Together with Copenhagen Fashion Week, Oslo and Helsinki Runway introduced sustainable requirements for designers. This can be an inspiration for all the brands and fashion shows.

All the fashion shows should introduce sustainable standards adding more sustainable parameters, to concretely implement social and climatic change.

Nowadays consumers consider sustainability an important requirement in their purchases and the fashion industry is trying to meet their expectations. Indeed, this is an important factor that drives brands towards a sustainable and responsible production. A brand can be considered sustainable when it concerns several fields, because they are interconnected with each other: materials, packaging, working conditions and adequate pay.

Her-Age Louis Vuitton Epi Alma bag styled for Copenhagen fashion week 2023


Fashion companies have to be aware about sustainability, the materials they are using and how they are processed and they have to consider the impact on consumers.


Levi’s is playing its part using less water and investing in its factories, basing its production on quality. The result is to offer to consumers durable materials that extend the life cycle of garments. 


In this way consumers are encouraged to spend more and invest in a garment that will always last. People prefer to buy items coming from responsible production, avoiding brands based on non-ethical values.

Luxury fashion industry has to be values-driven, working toward something meaningful that has value to the community. The lack of ideas and values, it has led brands to work exclusively towards money, as the sole purpose to be achieved.

The point is that a large amount of money is invested in luxury brands and what is expected to get more than is invested. And sometimes this goal is achieved, but what is it that is sacrificed? 

From Her-Age Signature collection to Copenhagen Fashion Week: The Alaïa black boned bustier leather blazer from Spring/Summer 1992 Collection 


Let's think about when the company of a luxury brand is looking for its creative director. What is often asked is to create something that sells as much as possible, instead of focusing on uniqueness and novelty. What is extraordinary in a collection it’s the story it tells, and this is also what consumers want from a luxury brand, to feel special. 

This could be combined with sustainability? Yes, it means an in-depth research of fabrics, using substances that do not have a negative impact on the environment.

It’s challenging but that’s what consumers desire and fashion brand awareness can do, making fashion week the moment when sustainable production is the norm for all the global brands.

Valeria Boi, London