Sustainable Takeaways – from BFW AW19

What sets Berlin Fashion Week apart from the rest is its commitment to sustainable clothing. So much so that there’s an entire trade fair dedicated to the cause: the newly rebranded NEONYT.

 

Water is the order of the day, and at the rate it’s being consumed, polluted and wasted by the fashion industry, clean water is fast becoming the luxury commodity. However, it is possible to make clothes with minimal environmental impact and by collaborating with other industries – from agriculture to tech – not only can the textiles industry become more circular and efficient but others too.

Here we take a look at the key themes and sustainable solutions presented during Berlin Fashion Week AW19.

 

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Fahionsustain concluding panel discussion: Kirsten Brodde (Greenpeace), Alexander Nolte (Stop! Micro Waste / Langbrett), Ángela Suárez Garcia (Inditex), Heike Vesper (WWF), Melati Wijsen (Bye Bye Plastic Bags Bali), Clare Press (Vogue Australia) – Photo: Daniel Gebhardt

“A mosaic of solutions”

 

As Alexander Nolte of Stop! Micro Waste nicely summed it up: “We need a mosaic of solutions.” Some of these are short-term, like the Guppyfriend washing bag to prevent microfibres from entering our oceans, whilst long-term solutions to stop water pollution all together are figured out.

Right now, circular zero-waste models need to be adopted, and tools such as the Higg Index, Jeanologia’s EIM and Circular.Fashion’s Circular Design software can help brands measure and improve their sustainable performance. For smaller labels and emerging designers in Europe, programmes such as Fashion Council Germany’s German Sustain Concept and TCBL’s Business Pilots encourage local production and nearshoring, which can make supply chains more transparent and reduce carbon footprint.

Brands should then better communicate their social and sustainability efforts (without greenwashing) to educate and empower customers to make more informed buying decisions. This would also ideally increase brand loyalty and the success of take-back schemes so that clothes can be reused or recycled properly. Easy-to-understand universal certifications and standards should also be established so that designers, suppliers, buyers and customers all know what they are working with.

Industry reports and mass media indicate that younger generations are more mindful about the ethical and environmental impact of their purchases, so brands should do more to appeal to their future customer base and embrace the power of social media and influencers. From the energy and enthusiasm in the Prepeek blogger's corner to Melati Wijsen “18 year old full-time changemaker,” Bye Bye Plastic Bags NGO co-founder and star panel speaker at Fashionsustain – there is certainly hope for a greener, brighter, more loving future.

 

All companies, organisations, brands and individuals featured in this post took part in or were discussed at the Fashionsustain and #Fashiontech conferences, the Neonyt trade fair and/or offstage events, as well as other trade shows and seminars beyond the NEONYT hub.

Title image: Neonyt Fashion Show, photo by Daniel Gebhardt


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