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Repost from The Fashion Globe Magazine ( http://www.thefashionglobe.com/greenshows)
TORONTO, Canada — Fashion Week in any city is an opportunity for designers to share their views on trends, ideas and style, for buyers to filter in innovative designs into their stores and for fashion-lovers and style makers to find inspiration and pieces that define their style for the next season.
It is the creations that appear on the runways of fashion weeks around the world that set the stage for what is to be expected from seasons to come. It is also through these annual events that ideas about who we are and what we wear bring our identity to light. As designers, consumers and businesses continue to realise the importance of sustainability in the third most environmentally damaging industry in the world, the increasing popularity of sustainable, green or “eco” fashion weeks in major cities around the world reflects this trend. From Eco Fashion Week (EFW), an annual event that takes place in Vancouver, to the Berlin’s Ethical Fashion Show, these fashion weeks are proving to be much more than just pretty designs walking down a runway.
One great example is Vancouver-based, EFW, which is now entering its 9th season. Its mission is to inform and inspire “the fashion-conscious and sustainable-minded, alike, in a way that harmonises beauty and the environment,” with a belief that style is undeniably linked to innovation and sustainability. The event presents speaker seminars, industry panels and fashion shows to a diverse mix of global VIP guests, buyers, designers, stylists, photographers and the media. Most exciting is their focus on moving away the “hippie stigma” that accompanies sustainable fashion. In their own words: “if you’re looking for granola and hemp, you’ll have to check the snack bar.”
Similarly, The GreenShows LLC (TGS) “is a leading event, education and consulting company dedicated to the luxury sustainable fashion movement” based in New York. Since 2009, TGS has focused on bringing together the luxury sustainable fashion community, which encompasses designers, manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, celebrities, all platforms of media and consumers, through education and events. After hosting 30 runway shows and 2 pop stores in Soho, the East Village, and across other trendy neighbourhoods in New York, TGS made its Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week debut at Lincoln Center in 2012, for a presentation of eight ready-to-wear designers and nine accessories designers.
In a city that can arguably be classified as the fashion capital of the world, serving as headquarters to more than 1,000 fashion companies and holding the largest retail market in the country, an event and organisation of this nature is imperative to the sustainable fashion movement. For Dominique Drakeford, a TGS Ethical Fashion Consultant, New York is “a melting pot of creativity and cutting edge innovation with an illustrious history of style. Subsequently, it has perpetuated a culture that depreciates craftsmanship and worships fast fashion production models with nasty globalised production habits.” Drakeford continues:
On the consumer side, we’ve become an over consuming city with a mantra of disposability. This bitter-sweet NYC mosaic has ultimately created the perfect and arguably one of the most important platforms for sustainable change in the fashion industry.
In discussing the biggest successes of TGS, Drakeford says: “Being in the sustainable fashion business takes heart and unwavering passion. It’s never easy going against mainstream ideologies but we thrive from challenges. The MBFW show created a foundation for what is possible and what the future will look like. Based on that event, we now have a standard to live up to and the world will soon see us propel forward as we become a trailblazer for the Sustainable Fashion Lifestyle.” On the topic of challenges, she comments: “The greatest hurdle was of course due to lack of funding. We don’t think that will be a problem going forward.”
In 2015, the organisation was part of numerous events to bring awareness and education to the fashion community, held by organisations including, NRDC’s NY Council, FIT Department of International Trade & Marketing, Pratt Center for Sustainable Design Studies, Brooklyn Fashion & Design Accelerator, Columbia Business School/ Green Business Club and Parson’s School for Design at the New School. For Drakeford, the increasing discussion around sustainable fashion demonstrates that “luxury sustainable fashion is emerging and slowly becoming accepted on different platforms, although not widely voiced as such.”
With the growth of the Fashion Revolution Day, a social awareness campaign that sparked after the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh, now in its second year of existence and the “myriad of emerging designers and brands that are implementing conscious practices into their designer ethos,” Drakeford and TGS believe that there will be exponential growth in the sustainable fashion industry.
Most recently, TGS has coined the acronym Sustainable Fashion Lifestyle (SFL) for a movement that acts as the epicentre of their next phase. For Drakeford, “TGS is on a mission to become the world voice of SFL… we will report on where and who are the world wide sustainable designers, brands and what are their scenes and popularity like in their home cities, countries and the rest of the world.” Most importantly, TGS realises the industry it operates in. “We are going to be approachable, sexy and fun – making sure that we live up to our mantra of putting on the hottest sustainable events.”
We understand that this is the fashion business so education and awareness has to be done in style!
As fashion evolves, the infrastructure that supports the fashion world is evolving too. This includes regulations that support fashion production, the ideas and education that drive style and the concept of fashion week. As Drakeford points out: “The mainstream luxury and affordable luxury fashion industry has insurmountable issues, challenges and restrictions to achieving quick sustainable growth and the ability to produce and promote all sustainable product assortments and SFL lifestyles.”
Perhaps the next evolution will be mainstream fashion weeks, not off-shoot alternative events, holding sustainability and ethical behaviour as a key value. That being said, the fashion world is definitely stepping onto the right runway.