New York Fashion Week sets the stage for more sustainability shows in September, and one promises to be unlike the others.
Hosted by luxury sustainability platform Blank, New York Fashion Week’s free public showcase aims to shine a light on processes, methods, materials and new designers (including Apparis and Olistic the Label) creating collections with a low carbon footprint and with sustainability ingrained from the start. go. The event will take place during the day on September 10 with a VIP dinner to follow at an undisclosed location in midtown Manhattan.
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Blank has already held successful events in London, Los Angeles and San Francisco, attracting 200 attendees, but founder Brittney McDonald sees New York as important proof to show that sustainability is synonymous with luxury.
“Whether at NYFW or another curated expo, the goal is always for people to walk away with knowledge of the brands, designers and solutions available to them and the long-term impact this has on the carbon footprint,” McDonald told WWD. “So when given the choice between a ‘normal’ brand or a sustainable brand, they feel empowered and compelled to choose the sustainable option. And over time, these actions collectively help reduce our carbon footprint.
Confirmed designers include Apparis (known for its colorful faux furs), Olistic the Label (a luxury brand that promotes organic sericulture and natural fibers), Ethiquette (a semi-couture eco-couture house offering upcycled pieces ) and Phi 1.1618 (whose name is a play on the “golden ratio” of sustainable design). Additionally, Blank is looking to recruit four other sustainable designers or innovators in eco-friendly materials to complete the showcase. Designers can apply or seek partnership opportunities by emailing any inquiries to Blank.
Designers are controlled by Blank brand values that embrace authenticity, education, inclusivity and representation. Quality, price and accessibility are also determining factors. But McDonald’s insists that the most important factor in selecting designers is finding those who think about sustainable solutions from the very beginning of product creation.
“This can be done in a number of ways, including recycling materials, using alternative materials, and borrowing from legacy formulas that actually extend the use of materials,” she said. “All innovative on their own, but each approach creates a lasting impact on the carbon footprint early in the process, rather than simply offsetting based on what has been created.”
With the advent of digital runways, fashion week has managed to reduce its spend and impact. Last September, 21 designers (or roughly 23% of the 91 designers on the fashion week calendar) scheduled digital activations for NYFW, including Harlem-based denim designer Zero + Maria Cornejo, and many others. Digital shows were listed in a series of recommendations in an in-depth study on the impact of physical shows by organizer Council of Fashion Designers of America, in conjunction with the Boston Consulting Group.
But the return to in-person events in the United States, despite the looming and ongoing public health emergencies, still claims its appeal for tactile and visual industries like fashion. McDonald’s goal with Blank’s first New York Fashion Week debut is to “change the way people think about and engage with sustainable fashion.”
“Sustainable fashion is not synonymous with inferior quality, materials [or] pattern. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma and perception that sustainable fashion is not “luxury,” she argued. “That’s just not true.”
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