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Unsustainability and the Evolution of Sustainability in Fashion Week

Words by Bethanie Ashton

It’s no new knowledge that the environmental impact of the fashion industry is gravely damaging to our planet, though until recently when Fashion United released data on the impact of Fashion Week specifically, we realized how crucial the digitization of our industry including its events, really is.

The report stated that some 10,000 industry members (buyers, stylists, celebrities, designers) would fly into New York City to attend shows, previews and wrap parties, resulting in the release of between 40,000 – 48,000 tons of carbon dioxide.  While it takes approximately 6 trees to offset one ton of carbon dioxide, some basic math will show that 288,000 trees are required to “undo” the damage caused by New York Fashion Week. This is the equivalent of 20% of the total amount of trees in New York City, to combat one week of fashion.

Digital shows during the pandemic gave our planet a needed break from greenhouse emissions, and though Milan SS22 hosted some 42 runways, the novelty of the digital-class continued with 23 shows (more than half presented as digital runways) in partnership with brands like Audi and the “Green Future” at Fashion Hub.

Initiatives to encourage environmental and social sustainability didn’t stop with vegan material innovations and runways streamed on the big screen; two flashmob performances by PETA and Brazilian artist, El Nino de Favela demonstrated the need to eliminate animal product from fashion; and, the need to explore gender diversity - which on a local level, significantly lags.

On Tiktok, @CameraModa Festival Organizers initiated a panel of international creators to discuss Milan Fashion Week with the hashtag #DietroLeQuinte. Their influencers were selected by Pulse Advertising with an aim to stimulate reflection on current issues such as gender diversity, integration and equal opportunities in fashion.

As the sun has set on the first season of Fashion Week post-Covid, there are some healthy, greener takeaways for buyers and key growth areas in marketing activation for brands, such as digital showrooms and AI as well as several vested agencies like ONE30M and RunwayBuy to consult on technology and eco-transformation. We can’t wait to see how Fashion Week continues to evolve sustainably in next year’s major events.  

O2 Monde shoes: a sustainable alternative 


-P2 Carbon stats at NYFW – Luxiders 

-P2 Tree stats in New York City – AAA Tree Service NY

-P4 TikTok Influencer Panel –