Copenhagen Fashion Week Celebrates Sustainability Milestones By Adding More Targets

copenhagen fashion week sustainability
Image courtesy Copenhagen Fashion Week

Ahead of its 2022 events, Copenhagen Fashion Week has published its annual sustainability report detailing the progress of its 2020-2022 Sustainability Action Plan.

Despite having to postpone some targets due to the Covid pandemic, Copenhagen Fashion Week says it was able to reach most of its targets last year, as well as introducing new efforts, including an increased focus on social responsibility and partnerships around the 2023 Sustainability Requirements. Those include Copenhagen International Fashion Fair, the Norwegian Fashion Hub, Oslo Runway, and the Icelandic Fashion Council.

The 2023 Sustainability Requirements were reviewed by an international panel of experts, including Orsola de Castro of Fashion Revolution, Professor Dilys Williams from the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, and Professor of Biological Oceanography Katherine Richardson.

Image courtesy Copenhagen Fashion Week

“The progress made during the second year of our Sustainability Action Plan shows the potential of our strategy and three-year targets to inspire and push fashion companies to embrace more responsible business practices,” Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week, said in a statement.

“We strongly believe that the new Nordic partnerships we entered around the 2023 Sustainability Requirements set a major milestone that fosters stronger industry alignment and we’re very excited to seek out new partnerships internationally during this coming year.”

Thorsmark says it is intensifying efforts to become a more sustainable event and platform.

Sustainability efforts in Copenhagen

Copenhagen Fashion Week has been working to develop its sustainability efforts since 2019. Danish fashion brand Ganni’s founder Nicolaj Reffstrup serves on Copenhagen Fashion Week’s Board of Directors and Sustainability Advisory Board. Ganni has been increasing its own sustainability initiatives, including replacing animal leather and entering the secondhand market.

The Fashion Week event is aiming to reducing its climate impact by 50 percent. It’s also rethinking its waste systems; this year is expected to be the first year it achieves zero-waste, minus any Covid protocols.

The event vehicles are all electric, as are the shuttle bus services. Plastic waste will be collected by Denmark’s SmallRevolution, which turns plastic, such as hand sanitizer bottles, into podiums for the event. Plastic is also being reduced backstage with a ban on plastic hangers and garment bags. The event also scrapped fashion week merchandise such as t-shirts. And all of the event’s food offerings are vegan or vegetarian. On-site water stations replace single-use bottles.

This year will see the introduction of carbon offsetting fees to ensure brands offset emissions generated during fashion week. For brands who already offset, the fee will be waived. But by next year, all brands presenting at the Fashion Week event will need to off-/inset their show emissions in order to be eligible to exhibit.

But the event says the bigger picture is the most important one: how it will set new standards for the industry to adopt “necessary, comprehensive change.”

“All industry players—including fashion weeks—have to be accountable for their actions and be willing to change the way business is done.”

Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week

According to the event organizers, by next year, 1,600 brands will comply with standards including using at least 50 percent certified organic, upcycled, or recycled materials across all collections, keeping unsold clothes out of landfills or from being destroyed. The brands will also use fully sustainable packaging, and include zero-waste set designs for all Copenhagen Fashion Week shows.

Image courtesy Copenhagen Fashion Week

“Although unable to directly influence the every-day decision making of brands, we will continue to use our role and our voice to make sustainability more attractive, to guide brands and to accelerate the industry’s sustainability efforts through our three-year plan, that will set new standards for brands presenting at Copenhagen Fashion Week,” reads the event website.

“We will remain ambitious, share our learnings and promote transparency. We strongly believe that every step toward more responsible business practices counts and that the sum of our efforts will ultimately drive the change we desire.”

Copenhagen Fashion Week says it’s putting an emphasis on collaboration between all stakeholders in the industry, including trade shows, industry events, industry associations and, fashion companies, to push the change forward.

“All industry players—including fashion weeks—have to be accountable for their actions and be willing to change the way business is done,” Thorsmark said.

“The timeframe for averting the devastating effects of climate change on the planet and people is less than a decade, and we’re already witnessing its catastrophic impacts today,” she said. “Put simply, there can be no status quo.”

Copenhagen Fashion Week runs February 1-4.

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