But it’s here, at the zenith of British design creativity, that new sustainable ideas are showcased. And the idea of designer fashion – which is often hand-crafted, high quality with smaller production runs than the high street – is echoed through Dame Vivienne Westwood’s iconic memo to “Buy Less, Choose Well, Make it Last.”
Sometimes the anxiety of living a sustainable life is overwhelming but this isn’t the time to let doom overpower you. Especially when it comes to fashion. No-one needs new clothes but a new-to-you item can lift your mood, signal solidarity and let you express your personality. It also helps to buoy the economy. Pre-Covid, almost 900,000 people were employed in the UK fashion industry, which contributed £32 billion to the GDP.
Right now, when climate change dominates every discussion and fast fashion is vilified (rightly) for its role in polluting the planet, attending London Fashion Week can feel a little… incongruous. Rome is burning yet we’re looking at fabulous new dresses, dahling?
However, when there are a growing number of designers at LFW making great strides towards sustainability it’s difficult to stay depressed. The innovations we spotted offer optimistic opportunities for change and they look incredible too.
With a mix of actual catwalk shows, appointments and film screenings over the five days of LFW we had an opportunity to get up close and personal with the fabrics and chat with our favourite designers. For the past few seasons husband-and-wife duo Preen by Thornton Bregazzi have been building more considered elements into their collections. This season was the least environmentally impactful yet. The recycled wool knits are just the thing to snuggle up in while single-use plastic has been transformed into fluid georgette. Viscose (wood-pulp) dresses swished like silk and a limited edition dress was made up from a patchwork of previous seasons prints. The boldest innovation? Clever nut buttons made from leftover pulp and reformed as a plastic replacement.
Before creating a new season, Osman asked, “What happened to last season’s collection?” and pondered how to make clothes with a purpose beyond simply satisfying commercial expectations. The result? 15 slick looks made from TENCEL™ Luxe – a fibre created from sustainably sourced wood pulp which is spun into a silk-like thread. It’s bio-degradable and approved by the Vegan Society as well as being made in a closed-loop process, so no chemicals are leaked into the environment. The drama in the silhouettes signalled a no-compromise stance on design while the taffeta, lace and satin fabrics were truly exquisite.
Over the lockdowns, Edeline Lee decided to use up the fabrics she had in her studio to create her new collection. And with a colossal 53 different shades, a rainbow range was born. The fluid dresses, tops and skirts come in clever colour combinations (like rust and blue; coral, blush and mustard; and khaki and turquoise.) Each piece is as joyful as it is considerate. When fabric production is the single most polluting part of the fashion chain why make more?
Likewise upcoming designer Harris Reed also used existing elements – in their case, second-hand bridal and groomswear from Oxfam – for a spectacular demi-couture collection while Richard Malone revealed a collaboration with Mulberry. Bio-synthetic cereal waste was turned into a leather-feel material then combined with leather from environmentally-accredited tanneries for a futuristic twist on Mulberry’s classic bags. Now you can make every part of your wardrobe more sustainable we’re so here for it.