London Fashion Week Adapts To A New Era:

The message was clear from the start of the latest LFW (14th – 18th February). “Now is the time for drastic change in how we do things. We’re in a different world, a world of emergency”. That was the view expressed by Lynne Franks, consumer lifestyle campaigner and fashion week co-founder”, cited by the Guardian’s fashion editor, Hannah Marriott, on 15th February. The big dilemma, as Andreas Kronthaler, Vivienne Westwood’s co-designer and husband, declared to the same newspaper prior to the five day event, is how to blend environmental activism with the business of selling fashion, especially as “we already have enough clothes in the western world to last us for hundreds of years”.

The Observer columnist, James Tapper, on 9th February outlined “the huge challenges” facing the industry in its quest to become greener: “The UK throws away around 300,000 tonnes of clothes into landfills each year and some studies suggest global textile production creates 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide pa, more than airlines and shipping combined” – a situation which, his Evening Standard counterpart, Lizzie Edmonds, noted on 14th February, is putting increasing strain on the planet’s water resources and materials. That’s precisely why, Tapper pointed out, the search is on for alternative materials (such as mushroom leather and algae t-shirts) with smaller carbon footprints.

University of Westminster

University of Westminster

The British Fashion Council (BFC), in its LFW AW (Autumn/Winter) 20 press release, acknowledged that these are crucial issues which now have to be resolved. It thus highlighted not only the fact that there would be 60 catwalks and presentations, with 73 brands participating in the event, but also that the “Positive Fashion Exhibition” would be the main theme of the Designer Showrooms at the LFW HQ at 180 The Strand. Each exhibitor had been “carefully chosen to demonstrate the provenance and skilfulness of their designs, on the basis of the three strategic pillars of Positive Fashion – namely the environment, people and craftsmanship & community”.

University of Westminster


Among the 36 organisations which had been allotted space in the Showrooms were “Fashion Our Future”, founded by Amy Powney, creative director of “Mother Of Pearl” whose aim is “to strike the balance between our love for fashion and protecting the planet”; “PAMA London”, which describes itself as “the ultimate in luxury fitness wear” and wants “to make women feel good, without harming our planet” and the French company “L’Occitane En Provence”, which professes to combine its beauty merchandise with respect for people and nature and to use eco-refill wrappings for its 25 different product lines”.


The BFC emphasised that “more than ever, designers are taking sustainability to the heart of their collections, especially this season Johnstons of Elgin, Mulberry, Phoebe English, Richard Malone and Vivienne Westwood”. Advance information issued by many of the designers similarly focused on their commitment to the environment. “ToBeFrank & Molyneaux, for example, says it works with a recycling plant in Istanbul that “takes in 800 tonnes of unwanted fabric cuttings which would normally go into landfill” and that it melts down pellets from plastic bottles into polyester yarn, a “fibre which can be used for many types of fabrics”;


Earth Logic”, which featured in the ON/OFF catwalk, states that its priority is “rooting fashion in creativity, community, curiosity and care, instead of profit”; Katie Ann McGuigan’s knitwear is comprised of “recycled yarns and screen prints which are sourced locally, so as to keep the production of her collection close to her studio in London”.

Ashley Williams







Saving the planet is not the only immediate concern for the UK fashion industry. Much of the country’s retail sector is struggling to recover from poor Christmas sales. The Evening Standard (ES) business correspondent, Alex Lawson, reported on 10th January that Superdry’s profits may crash to zero, due to “unprecedented” levels of discounting by rivals “coupled with subdued customer demand”.

University of Westminster

Two days later, the Sunday Times commentator, Sam Chambers, observed that clothing purchases at Marks & Spencer had continued their lengthy decline, down 1.7%, profit margins at such as Asos, Misguided and even Primark were being “squeezed”, but that Boohoo sales had “leapt” in the final four months of 2019.

The Mess, London UK.18th February 2020. Mark Fast shows his Autumn Winter 2020 designs during London Fashion Week. © Chris Yates

House of Fraser (now owned by Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley) and the Arcadia Group, run by Sir Philip Green and which owns Burton, Topshop, Miss Selfridges and Evans, among others, are both facing financial difficulties. Moreover, according to the writer John Arlidge in the ES magazine on 14th February, “coronavirus is the worst thing to happen to fashion since the financial crisis of 2008”.

The Mess, London UK.18th February 2020. Mark Fast shows his Autumn Winter 2020 designs during London Fashion Week. © Chris Yates



“Earth Logic” (ON/OFF)









Burberry has been particularly badly affected: Chinese customers account for 40% of its revenues and it has had to close 64 of its stores in mainland China. Victoria Beckham also admitted to the Metro journalist, Andrei Harmsworth, on 18th February, that “her empire had been hit hard by the global health crisis” – not ideal news considering that her fashion label is rumoured to be making considerable losses and being kept afloat by loans from her husband David.

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 14: A model walks the runway at the TOBEFRANK x Amy Molyneaux show during London Fashion Week February 2020 on February 14, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/BFC/Getty Images)

The Mess, London UK.18th February 2020. Mark Fast shows his Autumn Winter 2020 designs during London Fashion Week. © Chris Yates

Filed under: Media, Society | Posted on February 21st, 2020 by Colin D Gordon

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