When the scientists, students and delegations across nations came together to speak on behalf of climate change at COP26, why should the fashion industry be left behind?
Leading British brands Burberry, Phoebe English and Stella McCartney are coming together with the British Fashion Council and the UK’s GREAT campaign at Cop26 to showcase the UK’s commitment to climate action through fashion innovation.
GREAT is the UK’s flagship international marketing campaign, the theme of which is to encourage the world to ‘see things differently’.
The GREAT from Britain and Northern Ireland Campaign will partner with the British Fashion Council to host GREAT Fashion for Climate Action, a showcase of UK innovation on November 9.
The event will showcase several designers who will demonstrate the UK’s commitment to tackling climate change through their collections. These brands are weaving their message of climate action into their products to encourage behaviour change in consumers.
The event will include brands like ‘Mother of Pearl’ who launched their first fully sustainable line, ‘No Frills’, in 2018. Natural fibres such as organic cotton, wool and Tencel™ make up the vast majority of their collections and since then has infiltrated all its learnings into the entire Mother of Pearl world. British-American model, Arizona Muse, who will be speaking at the show, will be wearing clothing by Mother of Pearl.
Amy Powney, Creative Director, Mother of Pearl said that it is no longer about one brand, the fashion industry requires an entire system reset and a shift in consumer behaviour.
“We need to get back to valuing clothes as beautifully crafted pieces, not throw away objects.The system needs to slow down, we need to invest in brands with the right values and consider closed loop systems which encourage us to rent, repair, recycle and resell, replacing impulse purchases and fast fashion methodology,” said Powney.
The other brands include ‘Burberry’ which has committed to become Climate Positive by 2040. To achieve this, it will accelerate the reduction of emissions across its extended supply chain by 46% by 2030 and become net zero by 2040, 10 years ahead of the 1.5°C pathway set out in the Paris Agreement. Burberry, has already cut its market-based emissions by 92% since 2016 and is on track to be carbon neutral across its own operational use globally by next year.
Pam Batty, VP Corporate Responsibility, Burberry said that faster and bolder action is needed to create a resilient, zero carbon future. “Burberry is thrilled to contribute to the GREAT showcase, which demonstrates how impactful collective action can be. It is essential for the fashion industry to use its influence by investing in more sustainable solutions and we sincerely hope that other businesses feel inspired to take action and make a positive change,” said Batty.
Priya Ahluwalia transforms recycled materials like deadstock and vintage clothing into upcycled work. The label combines elements from the designer’s dual Indian-Nigerian heritage and London roots. It explores the potential of vintage and surplus clothing by giving existing material a new life through various textile and patchwork techniques.
Another well-known fashion brand at the event would be Stella McCartney, the pioneer of sustainable fashion, working with a US company to develop a new plant-based material, Mylo, an “un-leather” grown from mycelium, the vegetative part of a fungus. McCartney is the pioneer of sustainable fashion, and an early adopter of an environmental profit & loss statement.
In 2016, they launched recycled Re.Verso™ cashmere, which offers the same qualities as virgin cashmere yet with seven times lower environmental impact. In 2019, they presented the Infinite Hoodie in collaboration with Evrnu® by Stella McCartney collection which is made from regenerated, discarded textiles and is itself infinitely recyclable.
Another brand present at the event will be Phoebe English who have developed less extractive fashion methods using only non-virgin resources, reducing fibre miles, manufacturing in London, setting up regional fibre supply chains, utilising plant dyes, and now working towards regenerative and circular design systems connecting the studio activities to our soil systems.
As per the government of UK, The fashion industry produced around 2.1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2018, equalling 4% of the global total. This is equivalent to the combined annual GHG emissions of France, Germany and the UK.
With estimates suggesting the clothing and footwear industries are responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, British fashion brands lead the way in innovation to address the industry’s climate challenge.
In 2019, the British fashion industry directly contributed £35 billion to the UK GDP (representing a 9.38% increase from 2018). Fashion remains a major UK employer with 890,000 jobs supported across the industry.
Fashion industry therefore poses a great challenge where sustainability needs to be introduced keeping in mind the number of jobs that are caret in the industry.