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Evolution of Fashion Week

- Credit to Leah Traill

February is upon us, and with it the “Big Four” Winter/Fall Fashion Weeks: New York, Milan, London and Paris. Last year, Fashion Week changed drastically, with cancellations, digital collections and restricted physical events. That being said, Fashion Week has always been changing. One aspect in particular has been gradually yet persistently growing: the sustainable fashion scene.

Sustainable fashion has been around for a long time - in 2004 the Ethical Fashion Show was held for the first time in disused warehouses, mostly consisting of Bohemian styles. However, sustainable fashion struggled to gain traction in the broader fashion world until the early 2010’s. This was partly driven by Messe Frankfurt, the world’s largest trade show organiser, who procured the Ethical Fashion Show and Greenshowroom and began to demonstrate to a global audience that casual, active and luxury fashion could be sustainable.

Since then, sustainability has become established in the world of fashion.

In 2017, Milan Fashion Week launched the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, to celebrate the best in sustainable fashion. That same year, Helsinki Fashion Week became known as the world’s first sustainable fashion week, where all participants must adhere to sustainable production.

Fast forward to 2019, where an avalanche of designers and brands announced commitments and green progress during Fashion Week. This includes Kering, the luxury brand company that owns Gucci, who promised to become carbon neutral across its entire supply chain and the British Fashion Council launching the Institute of Positive Fashion to gather resources and campaign for fashion sustainability.

A number of these commitments focus on swapping to eco-friendly materials. There has been a trend towards sustainably sourced fabrics, as indicated by the market share of certified cotton increasing from 5% of global cotton production in 2013 to 25% in 2019. Likewise, the market share of recycled polyester has also increased from 9% of global polyester production in 2009 to 14% in 2019.

This trend is a good start, but not enough to fight growing pollution and climate change. We need to accelerate this movement, and fashion week has the power to do so - as styles are inevitably replicated and reproduced. Phoenxt hopes to be part of this movement by providing innovative technology that turns waste fabrics into new fabrics. We must all work together to encourage sustainability in fashion for a better and brighter future.

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