Published: Oct. 20, 2021 By

woman holding sign at fashion showThe last day of Paris Fashion Week was Tuesday, Oct. 5. The week was full of impressive styles from Balenciaga, Miu Miu, Dior and more. But in a surprising move at the closing Louis Vuitton show, a protester invaded the runway holding a large cloth sign reading “Overconsumption = Extinction” before being tackled and taken away by security.

The protester cited the activist groups Les Amis de la Terre, Youth For Climate France and Extinction Rebellion France on the bottom of the banner. Meanwhile, other protesters set up shop outside of the Louvre with more signs and posters.

This is not new for Fashion Week

Other activist groups have been known to crash the runway in years prior, for exposure. Extinction Rebellion actually pulled a similar stunt back in spring 2021 at Dior’s show. The sign that time read, “We are all fashion victims.” Extinction Rebellion has been very vocal about their thoughts about the fashion industry: “Fashion Week is a week of shame; catwalks have no place in the climate emergency,” said one anonymous protester in spring 2021. This year, the group posted on Instagram: “The planet is burning, but fashion looks elsewhere.”

Extinction Rebellion protested in September 2019 with an even more subversive campaign where they completed “‘Die ins’ and a Funeral.”

Environmentalism in high fashion: faux or growing?

There is no doubt that there is an overconsumption issue in the fashion industry -- brands make countless numbers of clothes that are worn once and then thrown away. The amount of clothing in landfills and warehouses is shocking.

However, there seems to be at least some level of self-awareness happening. In 2019, Dior partnered with “Coloco, a collective of botanists and urban landscapers, to create a Paris Fashion Week garden, an ongoing sustainability project.” The parent company of Dior and Louis Vuitton, LVMH, appears to actually care substantially about the environment. In 2020, they published a 144-page Social and Environmental Report where they say they were able to reduce the emissions from their energy consumption by 36.5% in 2020. They have pledged to raise this number to 50% by 2026.

These initiatives don’t seem to present evidence of greenwashing. Indeed, it is clear that the company is trying to make a real change in their operations due to the climate crisis. The real question then becomes, is it enough?

Meanwhile, in a show at Palais Garnier Opera house on Monday, French brand Etam had models “‘Dance with Mother Earth’ in light colors and flower crowns to raise awareness of the company’s sustainability commitments.”

The good thing about high fashion

The best thing about high fashion is that it does not follow fast trends; these brands are committed to making limited edition and high quality pieces that last a lifetime. But most of that revenue isn’t going back into the environment; it’s going into the pockets of the wealthy.

All fashion needs to make a change to do good. LVMH has made great strides and set a good example for other brands to follow, but there is still room for many more improvements in the industry.

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