London Fashion Week was a conspicuously different state of affairs this season. Or at least that’s what the coverage is saying. With the theme of Positive Fashion at large, sustainability was at the core of the SS20 LFW edition and the media is taking note. Describing this season as fashion “in the age of climate activism”, The Guardian maintains that just because trends are moving out of the new and into the old, through reclaimed and recycled collections, it “doesn’t mean the end of fashion.”
But was the 7-day fashion extravaganza anything radical after all? Before the week itself even began, the schedule appeared with a key down the right-hand side. M/W indicated menswear and womenswear, while the addition last year of ‘PF’ let you know which collections were categorised as #PositiveFashion. In actual fact, of the 118 catwalks, presentations and events listed on the LFW itinerary, only 6 were labelled PF.
In spite of the disappointing PF turn-out, I was met with a welcome sight walking into the British Fashion Council on the first day. The main exhibit was dedicated to #PositiveFashion, instantly pointing to the significance of the buzz phrase this season. Perusing the room, I chatted to graduate fashion designers committed to separating sustainable fact from fiction, all of whom had made innovative collections by championing waste creation. Central Saint Martins Graduate Erika Maish showed me her intricate pieces made out of can tops and healing beads, while Azura Lovisa explained the use of horsehair and ‘Ramie’ in her collection, the latter being the oldest eco-friendly fibre found in Asia.
Attempts at Solutions and “saying ‘No’ to London Fashion Week”
Amidst flamboyant catwalk shows that were far from environmentally conscious, the highlights of my week came in the form of two designer presentations, Phoebe English and LFW-boycotting Vin + Omi. I had highly anticipated seeing Phoebe English’s collections in the flesh. Her ‘Attempts at Solutions’ collection this season is characterised by deadstock and surplus fabrics, zero-waste pattern cutting and materials made from regenerated ocean plastic and bamboo silk. The presentation did not disappoint, featuring bare-faced models wearing vivid blue, unisex pieces dyed with ‘natural indigo overstain’ and loose fitting, oversized shirts and dresses made from organic cotton and Tencel. In conjunction with the clothes was a series of tactile mood-boards covered in fabric swatches, placed around the minimal venue in London’s Carousel, Marylebone.
I later found out, at a Positive Fashion panel that week, that Phoebe English was going even further in her bid to shift the conversation around approaches to fashion. She revealed to an audience that she has started a ‘sustainable solutions’ Whatsapp Group with her designer contemporaries. If that’s not progressive, then I don’t know what is.