Sustainability on the Catwalk:
AW 17/18 Fashion Weeks

Post-fashion week, after the runways have been dismantled and the paparazzi have retreated, a clearer sense of the key trends to emerge. In the case of the past month’s shows, one clear trend came through: sustainability is something to celebrate. 

Politically provocative, socially-conscious fashion shows are nothing new. Vivienne Westwood and Katherine Hamnett were channelling their views into runway collections decades ago. But this season there was a marked, broader shift as many brands demonstrated commitments to producing collections in a sustainable, ethical manner.

Safia Minney, founder of ethical online retailer People Tree, and now Managing Director of sustainable footwear brand Pozu, says the shift is part of a collective desire to quite literally clean up our act when it comes to consumption. “Our closets are full. Our landfills are full. Our minds are full of imagery. Sustainability is being seen as a new way of life; simplifying your life and living in line with your values.”

Gabriela Hearst

Gabriela Hearst at NYFW (Picture credit: Gabriela Hearst/Instagram)

At NYFW, Nicholas K switched all its leather dyes over to vegetable-based treatments, with co-founder Christopher Kunz telling reporters he is planning a trip to Peru to build a more clear, vertical supply chain with its manufacturers.

This talk of transparency is not new, but due to consumer pressure is shifting to become the norm. “Transparency is being expected and demanded by consumers,” Safia Minney told Positive Luxury, “It can deliver the true cost of our fashion and instantly move the dial.”

In Paris, Stella McCartney sat her activist guests front and centre in her audience. These influencers included PETA representative Pamela Anderson and actress Salma Hayek – a board director at the Kering Foundation, which works to end violence against women.

Setting for Gabriela Hearst catwalk show (Picture Credit: Gabriela Hearst/Instagram

Setting for Gabriela Hearst catwalk show (Picture Credit: Gabriela Hearst/Instagram

Back over in New York, brand to trust Gabriela Hearst extended her commitment beyond the outfits on display, by proudly putting on a resourceful and waste conscious fashion show. Chairs were borrowed or taken from the designer’s own home and topped with cushions made with leftover cashmere yarn and transformed by ethical knitwear company Manos del Uruguay. The metal used for the catwalk flooring was donated after the show. Better yet, 30% of her collection was crafted from dead stock fabric. 

Hearst signed off an Instagram post after her show by stating that the show was made “mindfully, creatively, and professionally.” Watchwords for the future of fashion.

Olivia Gagan