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Fashion Week: The Eternal Challenge Between Design, Economy, Rights, and Sustainability

Fashion Week: The Eternal Challenge Between Design, Economy, Rights, and Sustainability

The Fashion Week is one of the most anticipated moments in the year for the fashion industry and considered a must-attend for many. It involves a series of events in different cities worldwide, with the most famous being the Fashion Weeks in Milan, Paris, London, and New York, attracting thousands of visitors, movie stars, designers, and journalists from around the globe for the presentations of new collections. It is widely known not only among industry professionals but also for its visibility.

But what do Fashion Weeks imply for society and the environment?

Society

From a societal perspective, Fashion Weeks offer designers an opportunity to express their creativity and allow people to discover new fashion trends. Additionally, Fashion Weeks generate a significant amount of work for models, photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists, and others in the fashion industry.

However, Fashion Weeks are often criticized for being exclusive, inaccessible, and non-inclusive. They are an expression of the rampant consumerism characterizing contemporary society.

Ethical and labor-related issues in the fashion industry worsen during the runway shows. If you thought "The Devil Wears Prada" was exaggerated, you're not entirely wrong—it often portrays the "dark side" of the fashion industry, with a frenzy of everyone working under extreme hours, particularly leading up to events and runway shows.

But it's not just about the design aspect: the production and supply chain in the fashion industry are often sources of abuse. In many countries worldwide, textile factory workers are paid very low wages and forced to work in precarious and unsafe conditions.

These ethical and labor-related issues in the fashion industry are not only a problem for the workers involved but also have a negative impact on society and the environment. The lack of regulation and low labor costs have led to large-scale production and excessive clothing consumption, significantly affecting the environment.

It is crucial for fashion brands to commit to ensuring transparency in their supply chain and adopting ethical and sustainable policies for their product production. Relevant authorities should ensure the respect of workers' rights and their safety in the workplace.

But there is a way to take action: you can join the "Good Clothes, Fair Pay" campaign and sign the petition to urge fashion companies to adopt ethical and sustainable policies for their product production.

good clothes fair pay

Signing the petition is a concrete way to exert pressure on fashion brands to commit to transparency in their supply chain and adopt ethical and sustainable policies for their product production. This way, we can contribute to making the fashion industry more sustainable and responsible.

If you're interested, you can find the petition on the official "Good Clothes, Fair Pay" website.

Taking action is important because only together can we make a difference and build a more sustainable future for the fashion industry and our planet.

Environment

From an environmental standpoint, Fashion Weeks pose a serious problem. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting globally, and Fashion Weeks contribute significantly to this issue. The runway shows require the use of a considerable amount of materials for sets and marketing, such as fabrics, paper, and plastic, which often end up being discarded. After the shows, the garments will have a journey, including photoshoots, shootings, and then sales and discounts – an interesting article describing the journey of runway clothes can be found on The Post.

Moreover, Fashion Weeks require a substantial expenditure of electricity, especially for lighting and air conditioning. But that's not all.

From February 21 to 27 in Milan, there were 165 events reported in the Italian National Chamber of Fashion's calendar. According to Confcommercio, out of 103,000 arrivals for Milan Fashion Week 2023, at least 45,500 were foreigners. Now, think about the emissions from the travel of visitors worldwide, both international and internal, if these are the figures for one edition in one city (considering that each brand also has its own location to showcase).

We understand well that, although it is one of the most polluting industries globally, fashion is also one of the most profitable.

In 2022 alone, Italian fashion revenues exceeded expectations, with a turnover rising by 18% to 98 billion euros, considering related sectors like eyewear, jewelry, and beauty, according to an article from Corriere della Sera.

We know that the economy is crucial, and the sector is one of the driving forces, especially in Italy.

What has been asked for years, with Fashion Revolution being one of the first promoters, is greater transparency in the system and, above all, ethical and fair-paid work.

We can no longer continue to say "THANK YOU" to such a system if it does not make changes to its chain.

As Cecilia Frajoli Gualdi, co-founder with Fabio Pulsinelli of the Dress the Change project, says, "Talking about fashion now means talking about social rights and environmental rights. It could seem strange ten years ago, five years ago, not now," quoted from an interview with L'Espresso.

Let's talk about it and try to solve the problem at its roots, one step at a time, but let's not pretend anymore.

Let's make conscious choices; if you can, buy from artisans or designers here on Appcycled. If you like vintage, there's only the choice of which market to go to or choosing between Vinted or Vestiaire Collective.

If you prefer big brands, I recommend checking out this beautiful Fashion Transparency Index report, which contains a review of 250 of the world's largest fashion brands and retailers ranked based on their level of transparency regarding human rights, policies, practices, and environmental impact.

In short, let's inform ourselves, spread the message to those around us, and try to do our best by not letting ourselves be deceived only by the exterior of things.