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Samantha Politano

The Green Catwalk: Runway Shows Get Sustainable

By: Sabrina Wirth

Let’s talk about Fashion Month! If we are to go back to the roots of this global, traveling event, it can be traced back to World War II, when New York held a “Fashion Week” in order to give retail buyers alternatives to French fashion. Since then, it expanded to London, Milan, and Paris, introducing the latest collections from trendy and established designers, and injecting new momentum into local, consumer culture. But these days, the promotion and the momentum is created by Influencers, and purchases are more often made online – from anywhere in the world- than in brick and mortar stores. In order to continue making strides towards lowering the carbon footprint within the fashion industry, we’re going to have to rethink the necessity of these glamorous Fashion Weeks (twice a year and in multiple cities) around the world. According to a recent article in the NY Times, “the travel undertaken by buyers and brands resulted in about 241,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year… equivalent to the annual emissions of a small country — say, Saint Kitts and Nevis — or enough energy to light up Times Square for 58 years.” When we think about sustainability in fashion, do we even consider the impact of travel?? A staggering statistic from states that “travel to New York fashion week accounts for the most carbon emissions (37% of all emissions) followed by Paris (28%), London (18%) and Milan (17%).” Ayayay!


Women holding Dior bag while walking onto Dior airplane

Woman about to board a plane while holding Christian Dior bag. Image Credit: Ordre


Until we find a more environmentally friendly business model for Fashion Week, we’d like to applaud the many great initiatives that are already out there to counteract the carbon footprint. Below are a few that we’re excited about:


1. During Spring/Summer Paris Fashion 2020, Louis Vuitton had a very minimal set-up, consisting of a catwalk and stadium seating constructed entirely out of wood. Even the wood was sourced from sustainably managed pine forests in France. The wooden construction was later repurposed for an artistic collaboration that Louis Vuitton had with ArtStock, which extended -and created a new life- for the material.


Louis Vuitton: Spring/Summer Paris Fashion 2020 Catwalk


2. In Paris for this Fall/ Winter show, Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri, created a collection inspired by the natural world, and vowed to replant the 164 trees used during its 10 minute fashion week show to allow them to continue growing in a sustainable environment:


Dior Fall/Winter 2020 environmental runway show

Dior Fall/Winter 2020 collection is presented in the Jardin des Tuileries on February 25, as an initiative to preserve the environment. Photo: Christophe Archambault.


3. In Milan, Marni’s fashion director Francesco Risso created a collection that finds “beauty in the leftovers”, sending a message about low-waste and giving new life to textiles that might have otherwise been thrown out as by-products.


Marni recycled clothing line FW 20'

Marni recycles and collages fabric in the FW 2020 runway collection. Photo: Antonio Calanni/AP


4. Stacey Bendet, founder and CEO of Alice and Olivia, said in a press release, “What’s old is right again…We ought to take time to appreciate the beauty of what’s here, and make it new.” Her fashion show included items co-designed with Zero Waste Daniel, the zero-waste fashion pioneer known for producing fashion with – as its name suggests – no waste. Their collaborations breathed new life into previous designs by applying materials from past seasons to the new collection. And set pieces were sourced from NYC’s antique store, Newel.


Alice and Olivia FW 20, no waste line

Alice and Olivia F/W 2020 collaboration with Zero Waste Daniel. Photo: Alice and Olivia


5. Gucci is tackling the climate crisis by going completely carbon neutral in their operations (including fashion shows) and throughout their entire supply chain. Environment, Humanity, and new Models (no, not catwalk models, but models of production, i.e. applying technical innovation to improve efficiency in its production and logistics).


Gucci's green runway

Gucci’s green runway. Image Credit:


It’s inspiring to see so many luxury brands follow in the footsteps of pioneers Stella McCartney and Eileen Fisher by making their runway shows more green. The fashion industry still has a long catwalk to walk, however. There is enough clothing in this world to clothe the entire population, and then some. So do we even need “Fashion”? What are we going to do about all the excess? Being part of the Tomorrows community gives you access to information about style, sustainability and parenthood so stay up to date on the future of fashion, so be sure to join With us, you’re contributing to one of the largest digital parent communities for quality hand-me-downs, connecting you to like-minded, environmentally conscious parents. Be the movement.


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