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Rethinking Fashion Week: Copenhagen’s New Sustainability Standards

February 04, 2020

The choices consumers make every day have a significant impact on the environment. Choosing sustainable products encourages systematic changes to follow suit. From leading fashion brands to supermarkets, restaurants and governments, serious power lies in the decision-making and choices made at a systemic level. 

Setting New Standards 

One example of how this power can be used for good was highlighted this week. Copenhagen Fashion Week’s Chief Executive, Cecile Thorsmark, announced new sustainable standards that brands will now be required to meet if they wish to participate. What’s more, Thorsmark hopes the fashion week will become a leading platform for activism while promoting positive environmental change.  

As the Guardian explains, “As part of the shift, Copenhagen fashion week is launching a sustainability action plan that will require brands to meet a range of targets or face exclusion from the official show schedule.”

“Brands will have three years to meet the 17 sustainability standards, which include bringing in zero-waste set designs for their shows, pledging not to destroy unsold clothes and using at least 50% organic or recycled textiles in their collections.” 

The Fashion Industry as a Global Actor 

Since Thorsmark’s appointment in 2018, the Chief Executive has made some swift and significant changes to promote and encourage an environmentally-friendly culture. 

For instance, in a 2019 press release, Copenhagen Fashion Week banned single-use plastic bottles. The press release stated, “Copenhagen Fashion Week is an event of considerable size and impact, which is why we strive to reduce our footprint on our city - and our planet - through positive change.”  

“Acknowledging our role and privilege as a global actor in the fashion industry, we furthermore see it as our moral obligation to inspire everyone around us, including other fashion weeks, consumers and the industry as a whole.” 

What’s great to see is a festival recognizing its role as a global body with the ability to influence, change and ultimately help the climatic crisis that the world now faces. 

When it comes to disproving the detrimental effects our actions are having on the environment, climate denialists are scrambling for legs to stand on. Simply consider the Australian bushfires and it becomes clear that changes must be made on both an individual and systemic level if we wish to ‘win’ the fight against climate change. It’s important to recognize that the word win here is a precarious one. Why? Because the environmental degradation that has been caused as a result of the planet’s warming may have irreversible consequences. 

However, the sustainable stance Copenhagen’s Fashion Week has taken and continues to promote is an example of what is possible. Thorsmark isn’t the only one embracing more sustainable ethos in the world of fashion. Both New York and Stockholm have also made positive changes. 

As the Guardian states, “The Swedish Fashion Council cancelled Stockholm fashion week altogether in July, hoping to find a more sustainable alternative. At New York fashion week, the industry’s first carbon-neutral fashion show took place, courtesy of the luxury designer Gabriela Hearst.”

The Verdict

In recognizing the international actions being made by powerful countries such as Stockholm, New York and Copenhagen, it’s clear that the entire fashion industry is rethinking their very core. Consumers have never been more aware of the negative impact that fashion has on both people and the planet. Consequently, there’s also never been more pressure, and rightly so, to employ more sustainable standards. 

If systemic changes can be made and industry practices tread lightly on the earth, powerful and collective positive action can be effectively enacted and realized. From fashion week to supermarket chains, each plays a part in supporting a circular economy that prioritizes and celebrates sustainability. 

What’s more, if we begin to rethink our attitude to sustainability in the same way that Thorsmark has, we can recognize what an opportunity (rather than a burden) it presents for development, innovation and long-term growth. 

Whether you’re looking to learn more about what you can do to embrace sustainability in your everyday, or you’d like some insight on the topic, we’re here to help. No matter what your question or query, our friendly, responsive and knowledgeable team will be sure to provide you with the answer you’re looking for

We look forward to hearing from you and wish you all the best on your sustainability journey!

By: Sophia Llewellyn



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