Funeral clouds over London Fashion Week
A view from Yasmin Arrigo

Funeral clouds over London Fashion Week

How will the fashion spectacle evolve for the climate-conscious consumer?

RIP London Fashion Week SS20. The end of this season’s show had all the emotion, theatrics and dramatic costumes that the fash pack usually craves. But this was not reserved for the catwalk – this season in London, arguably one of the biggest shows took place out on the streets at Extinction Rebellion’s Funeral for Fashion Week.

The activist group had threatened to disrupt the event and so it did, initially with  a "die-in" that saw protesters lie down in a pool of fake blood and chain themselves to LFW’s main home at Store Studios. But it was the much-hyped funeral that ended the event on a sombre note, with coffins, black veils, white roses and the crimson costumes of the striking Red Brigade performance group. A funeral for LFW – but make it fashion. 

While the British Fashion Council did its level best to work with Extinction Rebellion to encourage debate around sustainability, the cost of fast fashion and the impact of production were always going to be challenging for both the trade and the thousands of consumers who engage with LFW and its plethora of related experiences that liven up the city each season.

The conversation around how we amass clothing isn’t going to dissipate and the chatter around initiatives such as Second Hand September – the Oxfam campaign encouraging people to avoid buying new clothing for the month to raise awareness of the environmental impact of fashion – is only going to intensify. 

It's understandable, then, that statement brand experiences were pretty thin on the ground this season – Extinction Rebellion gave ample notice of its intention to disrupt the event, enabling brands to take a cautious approach and judge consumer mindsets.

While Anya Hindmarch once again stole the show with an audacious maze installation to celebrate the new Postbox bag and Issey Miyake created a quirky music-led experience in honour of its popular Bao Bao bag collection, this season’s consumer experiences predominantly centred on clothing care, customisation and sustainable fashion.

Gap delivered "Denim futures" on Brewer Street, offering a full personalisation service, plus workshops on restoring and reviving old garments, while Mulberry ran a series of free bracelet-making workshops, using offcuts from its new Iris bag.

But one of the most notable pop-ups was Depop’s presence at Selfridges. The digital app and website partnered the department store to bring a bricks-and-mortar experience to the capital, selling second-hand clothing and highlighting ethical fashion with a series of clothing care workshops.

Back on the catwalk, Burberry offset the impact of its show, #Evolution, with its production certified carbon neutral. In a statement on the brand’s Instagram account, Burberry outlined that the flights of guests travelling to London specifically for the show and the build and production of the event were offset through projects that prevent deforestation and conserve tropical rainforest.

It was a lauded move, as while LFW continues to pack a sartorial punch, bringing with it the biannual rush of glamour, after-parties, celeb-packed FROWs and ruffles aplenty, the environmental impact of fashion is rapidly advancing to the forefront of consumer minds, making this a challenging industry to activate in.

And so it will be remembered, dearly departed LFW SS20 – the one where, beneath the sparkle, the steely glint of fashion in the age of climate activism shone through.

Yasmin Arrigo is digital director at Campaign

Picture credit: Ted Dave for Extinction Rebellion