NOTNot so long ago, London Fashion Week offered a dramatic drama: one battle at a time or between designer egos. But while the climate crisis is challenging the fundamental viability of fashion as an industry, the stakes and temperaments have been raised.

A few hours before the first five-day parade, the Extinction Rebellion climate campaign group organized a "die-in" outside of central London, throwing buckets of fake blood to symbolize the "status quo". quo "for fashion and other industries. leads to the extinction of life on earth. The group demands that the sector be "canceled" and plans to continue to disrupt the fashion week, to end up a "funeral procession of fashion" to be held Tuesday night.

Sustainability is now widely accepted in the industry as being the measure that matters most – at least in theory. In practical terms, there is a lot of resistance to the idea that clothing production should be completely abandoned, but a new generation of fashion designers is approaching fashion with the principle of sustainability.

As a teenager in Liverpool, Patrick McDowell made clothes from unwanted end-of-line fabrics. "I've always done that, so when I heard about sustainability, I thought:" Oh, there's a name for what I'm doing. " "His new collection, Fire Fighting Tunties, inspired by his firefighter father, his mother and his aunts, who" extinguished the fires of the family and saved us from trouble ", is created from surplus fabric offered by Burberry and crystals. from Swarovski and is on display at the London Fashion Week headquarters, using quality raw materials means "it does not look like waste, it's important".

"Our generation has been very egocentric," says designer Roland Mouret, a fashion week veteran for 20 years, at the bridge's headquarters. "We are the generation that has changed from a model of two collections a year to six collections a year. So now we have to take responsibility. "

Mouret is associated with Arch & Hook to create hangers made from 100% recycled marine plastic. After use, they are 80% recyclable, instead of the standard 25%. "The volume of hangers put in landfills last year in the United States could be a structure the size of the Empire State Building," says Mouret. "I'm more proud of this project than anything I've done."

At the same time, online retailer MyWardrobe is reinventing itself as a rental service for the designer clothes it sells, and Harvey Nichols is setting up a shoe and bag tracking service to encourage customers to restore rather than replacing last year's purchases.

But, says activist of the rebellion Extinction, Sara Arnold, "what is happening in fashion so far is not commensurate with the crisis in which we find ourselves."

She points out that clothing production is still growing and is expected to reach 63% by 2030. "We had warm and productive conversations with the British Fashion Council. But for now, the industry thinks that sustainability can help fashion survive. It's not about the survival of fashion, but about the survival of the planet. "

Extinction Rebellion, which caused serious upheaval in the streets of central London in April, provides for two days of "swarming" (described by Arnold as "blocking the road enough to slow traffic but keeping it moving enough so that people do not get upset. ") during the weekend.

"The London Fashion Week has several sites, which can disturb staff trying to travel between them and draw attention to the fact that none of us can continue to function as usual."


Extinction Rebellion protesters stage "murderer" in front of London Fashion Week – video

The shows will be chosen for logistical reasons rather than targeting specific designers or brands. "It's not about blaming or shaming," says Arnold. "We understand that the fashion industry has not created the toxic system we are all in. But that's part of it and it has to change."

A funeral procession will leave Trafalgar Square on Tuesday, September 17 at 5 pm to mark the last day of the shows.

Arnold studied fashion design at Central St Martins before environmental concerns led to the decision not to design or produce new clothes. She has now founded Higher Rental clothing rental company. "During the Second World War, clothes were rationed and ostentatious clothes became unseen. I am not saying that this is what should happen now, but this drastic level of action is relevant since this situation is deeper than the second world war. "

One of the reasons why fashion is a target for climate activists is that it shapes people's aspirations, says Arnold.

"Culture should show the way to deal with this problem, but culture is used to make us believe that everything is fine. Culture is complicit in our destruction, whereas it should take the responsibility to make this existential problem understood.

"The fashion industry has a huge voice and it should use it. When a fire alarm goes off, someone has to get up and leave the room, otherwise nobody thinks the alarm is real. We need fashion to be that person. "

Caroline Rush, Executive Director of the British Fashion Council, says she does not agree with Arnold saying that the industry's sustainable development efforts are just an update. "I think it's more than tweaking. In London, we are seeing companies that are really focused on a much smaller impact on the planet, whether it's through recycled fabric or through circular business models. We hear the message of the rebellion of extinction. Our role is to make information assimilable for fashion companies so that they can take concrete action. "





Caroline Rush



Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council. Photography: Stuart Wilson / CFB / Getty Images

In an echo of the New York fashion week last week, where the choice of Brooklyn Manhattan for many major salons was perceived as symptomatic of fashion wanting to appear less elitist and more in contact with ordinary people, the London fashion week has increased the number of events open to the public.

Alexa Chung, House of Holland and Self-Portrait are all catwalk shows where tickets are on sale, although they cost £ 135. Anya Hindmarch, who has long been at the forefront of evolution towards more inclusive and experiential events – in recent seasons she has floated giant heart balloons on the capital's monuments and filled the Banquet House of a giant ottoman – celebrates its new collection with a maze inspired by traditional red mailboxes installed for four days in a Soho car park, with tickets on sale at £ 12.50.

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