Sustainability in the runway: The Fashion Week inspires brands and consumers by Valeria Boi
The Fashion Week is one of the most anticipated moments in the fashion scene, when the designers showcase their latest collections for the upcoming seasons. All eyes are on the major fashion capitals of the world hosting journalists, fashion editors, celebrities, influencers. Through the years this event has become very important in shaping the fashion industry and consumer choices, inspiring styles and outfit ideas. What has been noticed this year is the high number of brands focused on sustainability compared to last year: 35 designers on New York’s Fashion Week S/S 2024 with a focus on sustainability confirming the growing movement towards responsible fashion, according to Business of Fashion.
Most of them are emerging designers such as Dauphinette with repurposed materials , Studio 189 and Zankov who use sustainable natural and recycled fibers, just to name a few. Hillary Taymour is one of them, although she can’t be considered a new designer because she founded Collina Strada in 2008, she is continuing to use her collections to educate people about the preservation of the environment with deadstock fabrics and eco-friendly materials. This confirms that more small brands have decided to choose the path of sustainability like the new generation of consumers. It’s clear that the Fashion Week is evolving and embracing a new concept of luxury with a positive environmental impact, however it doesn’t have precise norms as Copenhagen requests in its Fashion Week.
Specific requirements are necessary for the brands in order to participate at the Fashion Week, showing a responsible approach on all fronts, so that the general public can understand and ascertain about the transparency of the brands. The runway show is appealing for people and especially young generations, they are fascinated by everything that happens around this event. Refined location, curiosity around the concept with new creative directors, parties, young celebrities like Rosalia and Timothée Chalamet. It is certainly an opportunity to talk about sustainability and influence consumers’ decisions for their fashion purchases. They take inspiration to recreate outfits and look for the style who represents them more. New generations have the awareness of the importance of sustainability, and they have all the tools to find information about the impact of the human footprint on the planet. It’s not just about cool apparel, what drives consumers to buy a garment is the value of the brand and they know there are many options. Indeed, according to the research service Statista in 2022 the largest consumers of sustainable fashion in the U.S. were Generation Z and Millennials .
In other words, could Fashion Week be a model for responsible fashion?
It is well known that this event is very important and it takes months of work for each brand, and they predict how much it may impact the overall commercial aims of the company. Luxury brands set trends and influence the entire fashion industry, and when high-end brands include sustainability into their presentations they are sending a powerful message, that sustainability is not desirable but necessary. In such a manner a renowned brand can inspire and embolden other designers to follow its example. What identifies a brand as sustainable, it’s not just about using eco-friendly materials but also safe working conditions and adequate income for workers, minimize textile waist in the production, reusing scraps, reducing the use of plastic within the company, prefer craftsmanship and local production highlighting “the good quality that lasts”; collaborating with vintage platforms, promoting upcycling and recycling practice, which is what the designer Jose Alexander did in the backstage of the New York fashion week and featured on NYC Vibe.
To become a sustainable brand requires effort in terms of changes in the whole company; investing financial sources, creating a strategic plan, developing sustainable creative approach, dedicating research processes and most importantly thinking with sustainable values. It’s a massive change but in a world where consumers are more than ever aware and inclined to buy garments that come from an ethical and sustainable production, thus Fashion Week can inspire responsible businesses. It is a constantly evolving market and currently a sustainable approach is appealing more than ever.