As part of the shift, Copenhagen Fashion Week is launching a sustainability action plan that will require brands to meet a range of goals or otherwise be excluded from the official calendar. Brands will have 3 years to meet the 17 sustainability standards, which include zero-waste runway shows, a commitment not to destroy unsold garments, and the use of at least 50% organic or recycled textiles in their collections.
It is also planned to reduce the negative climate impact of fashion week. Single-use plastic bottles are already banned; the plan is to reduce emissions by 50% and become zero waste by 2022. Plastic hangers will be banned by 2021 and "digital solutions" are being considered as a way to reach a global audience without forcing all participants to board planes to attend.
This decision follows a year where sustainability has become a buzzword. While not the most nefarious part of the industry, fashion weeks have come under increased scrutiny for their waste and excess, and have become places of protest and activism. Extinction Rebellion staged protests, at London Fashion Week last September. Also at London Fashion Week, designer Roland Mouret made a crusade against hangers which he called "the plastic straws of the fashion industry". The Swedish Fashion Council canceled Stockholm fashion week in July, hoping to find a more sustainable alternative. During New York Fashion Week, the industry's first carbon-neutral fashion show took place, courtesy of luxury designer Gabriela Hearst.
Copenhagen Fashion Week organizers hope the requirements put in place will spur the industry to become more responsible, beyond its participation in the fashion week itself.
"Everyone in the industry, including fashion weeks, needs to be accountable for their actions and willing to change the way business is done," Thorsmark said. “The timeframe to avert the devastating effects of climate change on the planet and humans is less than a decade, and we are already witnessing its catastrophic effects today. Simply put.”