How Sustainable is NYFW?
By: Namra Khan
The much-awaited report: Sustainability by Design: Rethinking New York Fashion Week was just released by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Boston Consulting Group highlighting the environmental impacts of New York Fashion Week.
The impact study-which consists of a 56-page long document that outlines the key environmental impacts as well as how the industry can reduce its footprint is a huge step in the right direction for one of the world’s most polluting industries. From lighting to transportation, public relations, to set design here are some key findings from the report:
It comes with little to no surprise, but transportation tends to make up the bulk of carbon emissions: models, designers, and fashion professionals using air travel produce about 37,830 and 44,520 metric tons of carbon dioxide per season. Sample creation for the collection as well as the production of the set and decor are next in line for greenhouse gas emissions.
CFDA and BCG’s suggestions for solving this? For transportation, it suggests ride-sharing, public transportation, and the use of carbon offsetting agencies. For sample creation for the collections, it suggests NY-based production, renewable energy production, and limiting rush orders that ultimately increase the waste and energy consumption of garments.
The report also suggests reusing samples post-show, using reusable hangers and packaging (rather than plastic garment bags), and donating unused materials. For production, suggestions like using LED lighting, low carbon generators, local and organic catering, and reusable props are proposed.
The report also highlighted eco-friendly resources NYFW designers could use including organizations like Fab Scrap to collect waste sample fabric, the CFDA’s Sustainability Resource Hub which offers sustainable strategies toolkits, and the United Nations Office for Partnerships which helps build public-private partnerships to advance the UN’s sustainable development goals.
Although it was discovered that NYFW generates 40,000-48,000 tons of Co2 emissions, only a small percentage of 1.2 billion tons generated by the global fashion industry, this report provides a foundation for widespread change. Brands like Gucci and Gabriella Hearst are trailblazers for trying to reduce their impacts while other brands still fail to take responsibility.
A particularly regressive attitude from the CEO of LVMH holds true to this: when a protester holding the sign “we are all fashion victims” crashed the Dior runway show, the CEO claimed, “I don’t think we’re destroying the planet…there are industries that pollute much more.” This attitude needs to change, if all fashion brands don’t take responsibility and lead by example, the climate crisis will wreak havoc on communities (particularly communities of color) and the environment.