Extinction Rebellion escalates disruption of London Fashion Week with 2020 ultimatum
Image courtesy of Extinction Rebellion / Stephan Lacandler
- Extinction Rebellion UK continue its ask for a cancellation of London Fashion Week and are joined by Caryn Franklin MBE, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Labour Behind The Label, Livia Firth of Eco-Age, Safia Minney MBE, UN officer, Simone Cipriani of Ethical Fashion Initiative, TRAID, and The Sustainable Angle among others.
- On Monday 10th February, Extinction Rebellion delivered a letter to British Fashion Council calling on it to “cancel September 2020 fashion week” and “ immediately start work on an emergency action plan that aids stakeholders through change.”
- Extinction Rebellion have creative disruptions planned on Saturday 15th February together with XR Youth, Animal Rebellion and XR Internationalist Solidarity and more, and will escalate further in September if demands are not met.
Extinction Rebellion's Letter to BFC
On Monday 10th February, Extinction Rebellion delivered a letter demanding the cancellation of September 2020 fashion week and an emergency action plan that supports BFC’s stakeholders through transition into a new format: one that directly addresses the underlying issues of obsolescence, overproduction, and exploitation. And, as a government funded body which uses a Political Engagement Programme to lobby for the industry, Extinction Rebellion calls on the BFC to lobby for the 3 demands bill and “propose the legislation needed to stop the fashion industry’s exploitation of planet, people and animals.”
“It is now 2020, the year we must start to see meaningful reductions in emissions if we are to avoid irreversible breakdown, and yet we see no credible plan from industry leaders. We are back at London Fashion Week to deliver an ultimatum; the industry must address the core of the problem and also admit the change needed is not possible without governments stepping in,” says Alice Wilby, sustainable fashion consultant and member of Extinction Rebellion’s Fashion Action team.
The letter is signed by Caryn Franklin MBE; Centre for Sustainable Fashion; Fashion and Textile Research Centre, Nottingham Trent University; Labour Behind The Label; Livia Firth, Eco-Age; Martina Spetlova, designer; The Sustainable Angle; TRAID; Safia Minney MBE FRSA, REAL Sustainability Centre; UN Officer, Simone Cipriani, Ethical Fashion Initiative; Vin + Omi.
Extinction Rebellion have asked the British Fashion Council for a “reply to this letter before London Fashion Week that confirms your commitment” to the demands.
As the second season Extinction Rebellion has asked for a cancellation, the group plan to build pressure until their demands are met. They encourage others from the industry to join in support of the demands. Bel Jacobs, animal rights campaigner and member of the Fashion Action team says, “despite Caroline Rush and the BFC saying that they would declare emergency, there is no emergency action but tweaks to business as usual. We need to know how emissions and the loss of biodiversity will be addressed.”
View the full letter here.
The industry is changing but its footprint only grows
In 2019, Stockholm cancelled their fashion week. Copenhagen Fashion Week introduced environmental and ethical standards for its participating brands, following the lead of Helsinki Fashion Week. 56 companies entered The Fashion Pact, agreeing to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050.
But whether it is fast fashion on the high-street, or luxury fashion paraded at global fashion weeks, the desire for constant newness that fashion promotes is fundamentally unsustainable. Government failure to hold the industry to account for its true environmental and humanitarian cost results in ongoing overconsumption and waste.
The Global Fashion Agenda reported that despite all the talk of change, a transition towards sustainable practices is plateauing at a time when it needs to accelerate. Progress is also far outweighed by the growth in consumption. The industry is set to grow by 81% between 2019 and 2030, increasing its climate impact by 49% . Despite talk of circularity, only 1% of clothing is recycled into new clothing.
As said by Caryn Franklin MBE, “Creatives and visionaries are delivering radical solutions to tackle waste and toxic output.” But as they are subject to an unsustainable system, this often doesn’t result in meaningful change. A sustainable, circular or regenerative industry is only possible with the urgency needed through major government intervention.
The British Fashion Council and London Fashion Week are failing to support and protect the British fashion industry through changes needed and are now lagging behind the pioneers. Franklin adds: “London Fashion Week as it stands, is no longer best practice. With this realisation, the UK fashion community looks to the British Fashion Council for a transformational leadership position on future imperatives.”
“It would be wonderful to see the BFC finally take a lead on sustainability and work with the industry to try and achieve true and measurable solutions to this urgent issue we all face,” says Livia Firth, Co-founder and Creative Director of Eco-Age.
Professor Dilys Williams FRSA, Director of Centre for Sustainable Fashion, a research centre based at London College of Fashion joins the campaign, saying: “We ask all involved in fashion to place earth and equality first, to respond to XR demands and to recognise those designers and fashion practitioners who create prosperity in social, ecological, cultural and economic dimensions.”
The BFC is again exhibiting ‘best practice’ in a ‘Positive Fashion’ space, but neither this, nor the participants of the tradeshow must adhere to environmental or ethical standards. “It is not enough for garment brands to use the climate emergency to generate yet more profits through the creation of so- called ‘sustainable clothing lines’. They need to do more and the British Fashion Council must support, encourage and pressure them to commit to real change,” says Labour Behind The Label.
The system needs a deep revisioning: “Instead of fashion weeks, what we need are events that enable people to think, to imagine a future, not this useless carousel. We are quickly moving towards the extinction of life as we have known it up to now. What are we doing about this crisis? Business as usual. As I write, we are in another round of this mad (maybe beautiful, eye-captivating and useful for traditional business) carnival“, says Simone Cipriani, UN Officer, Founder and Head of the Ethical Fashion Initiative.
Safia Minney speaking at the Extinction Rebellion Funeral March in September 2019. Image by Leo Bordelle.
Fashion Act Now 2020 action
One year on from their first action at London Fashion Week, Extinction Rebellion are present for the third season to make it clear: ‘This season’s must have is the continuation of life on earth.’
Outside the main London Fashion Week venue, 180 The Strand, we’ll have creative actions, music, block printing on second hand clothing, speeches, food and family activities. Through this action, Extinction Rebellion wants to use the power of creativity to vision a better world.
This action is organised by XR Fashion Action. They will be joined by XR Youth, XR Internationalist Solidarity, XR Art Factory, Animal Rebellion, XR Families, XR Samba Band, Red Brigade and Asad Rehman of War on Want.
Fashion Tell the Truth: The Ongoing Campaign
The letter to the BFC is part of Extinction Rebellion’s continuing campaign to persuade fashion to Tell the Truth about the climate and ecological emergency, to act in accordance and back the Three Demands Bill.
XR Fashion Action
XR Fashion Action is a group of industry practitioners within Extinction Rebellion. They are behind the industry-facing Fashion Tell The Truth campaign, the Cancel LFW campaign and the Boycott Fashion campaign urging people to stop buying new clothing and materials.
About Extinction Rebellion
Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.
Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.
Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:
- Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
- Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
- Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
- In the UK, come to one of our events, join the Rebellion Network and let us know how you can help out.
About Rising Up!
Extinction Rebellion emerged from the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.