More designers aren’t just talking the talk with sustainability, but walking the walk too, as proven by this year's LFW.
We’d love nothing more for this to be the last ever Fashion Week sustainable roundup we write. No, really, we mean it. It’s not because we’re done with scribing these – we’re always rearing to put green pen to paper – but because we dream of sustainability becoming such a vital consideration for designers that a curated round-up would be rendered pointless. Why? Well, we’d have to include every single brand.
While ‘sustainable’ is still an attribute of a label – like ‘gender-fluid’ or ‘luxury’ – our utopia is for it to become so necessary to the very idea of a fashion brand, that describing one as it would be as redundant as calling a collection ‘wearable’ or ‘three-dimensional’. Of course, we’re not total dreamers and know that we’re realistically a long way off this; but every LFW we edge closer, seeing a fresh crop of plant-based designs, novel materials and upcycled fabrics. This year was the best yet, featuring everything from natural dyes to Zero Waste production, local woollen mills to recycled wood pulp – here’s what we loved.
Eirinn Hayhow’s ‘Crystal Earth’ collection rocks, literally. Mining inspiration from minerals, its crystal-like patterns are mesmeric, applied to kaleidoscopic crochet and dreamlike dresses. The collections’ dyes are entirely natural – synthesised from locally foraged plants and berries – and every fabric used is either salvaged or sustainably produced. It makes for big summer solstice energy, taking us to the more mysterious, fairytale-like patches of the British countryside where nothing’s quite as it seems…
Dada isn’t just our most common save-this-in-a-rush file name, it’s also one of our favourite art movements of all time. So, when Chilean designer Lupe Gajardo took inspo for it and combined it with Origami, we were obsessed. Billed as wearable art, the pieces meld together orange, fuchsia and turquoise, welding together streetwear and high fashion silhouettes. Ninety-four percent of the collection’s pieces are entirely zero waste, not leaving a centimetre of fabric unused and utilising scraps in ingenious, upcycled ways. It means that every single piece is unique, proving that riches can come from rags when you put love into your craft.
Prefaced with an eighteenth-century newspaper article about Miss Muff’s Molly house, a clandestine meeting place for queer people, Edward Crutchley’s Season 16 draws on period pieces to create maximum drama. The manufacturers have been selected meticulously, resulting in incredible work from historic and sustainable woollen mill Johnstons of Elgin, Hong Kong startup Knitup and prize-winning The London Embroidery Studio. Recycled polyesters are also used for the collection’s brocade bodices and bras, while all silks are organic, and, it’s not anything to do with sustainability at all, but there’s a Last of the Summer Wine inspired jacket for chrissakes.
CSM alumni Osman Yousefzada put the work in when it came to making his ‘I’m Coming’ collection sustainable. Collaborating with muses from three locations special to him – London, St Vincent and Pakistan – the pieces are exquisite examples of artisanal fashion. All the coats are handwoven in silk yarns, taking up to fifty hours to complete, plus the entire collection is made using the concept of ‘Last Yards’, using scraps and fabrics sourced on Yousefzada’s travels and produced in small, numbered runs. Leftovers never looked so good.
The queen of punk’s iconic words still ring in our ears: “Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.” This clear-cut approach to sustainability continued in her new ‘Save Our Souls/l. EAW’ collection, a nautical assembly of diagonal stripes, tapestry patterns, and shades of zesty, refreshing orange. It’s sustainable credentials are bulletproof; ninety eight percent of all materials used are classed as low impact, including recycled cotton, organic silk and wool from regenerative farming. They’re spliced together for pinstripe suits and statement umbrellas, plus there’s a return of the iconic ‘Drunken’ silhouette via shipshape corsets.