In September, London Fashion Week became the first major fashion week to go fur-free. This choice followed a survey of the designers, by the British Fashion Council, which aimed to encourage businesses in the industry to improve their ethical and environmental standards. In recent years there has been an increase in anti-fur protesters at Fashion Weeks and this may have resulted in more brands moving away from selling real fur. This development has the potential to induce an industry-wide movement that could reduce waste and unnecessary cruelty within the fashion world. This change was certainly reflected in some of the shows at London Fashion Week.
“WHY DID THEY KILL BAMBI?”
Just a day before the BFC’s decision to do away with fur, Riccardo Tisci announced that Burberry would put an end to destroying unsaleable products and that they would become fur-free as part of their five-year responsibility scheme. This puts Burberry at the head of a recent wave of designers deciding to eliminate fur, definitively setting a precedent for other brands to follow.
In his anticipated debut show titled ‘Kingdom Come’, Tisci delivered a memorable debut that made good on the brand’s new environmentally conscious stance. The show featured distinctive suiting with chest-mounted bands in place of ties and a decidedly British silhouette, sheer polka dots, thigh harnesses and animal prints such as ermine, Dalmatian and Swakara. However, it was the deer printed men’s shirt which read “WHY DID THEY KILL BAMBI?” that was the star of the show. This tongue-in-cheek slogan is clearly sending a message to brands that have yet to make the break with fur, whilst referencing the iconic British band The Sex Pistols. This results in a subtle conjunction of satire and British culture that culminates in a thought-provoking piece.
Tisci has taken Burberry in an innovative and forward-thinking new direction. Whilst it was particularly exciting to see his take on the traditional Burberry look, perhaps it is the new effort to end large-scale waste in the industry as well as the use of fur, which is the true success of the show.
“CONSUMPTION IS THE ENEMY OF CULTURE”
Vivienne Westwood’s collection was similar to Tisci’s new direction for Burberry in that she followed an emphasis on the importance of sustainable fashion. Presented as a video and a lookbook rather than a show, Westwood stunned with a visual reminder of the wasteful nature of the fashion world as the shoot featured props such as fans, smoke and a fiery backdrop. The collection was explicit in its intention, with t-shirts scrawled with slogans such as ‘I fought the law’ and ‘buy less’. The pieces were all made sustainably to reflect the theme: the wool ribbed knits, the recycled jackets and hoodies and the rough-hemmed shirts were all made to abide by the Oeko-Tex sustainability standard. According to Westwood, the anarchic style of the collection was meant to convey the image of revolutionaries fighting for the good of the environment. Westwood intensifies this theme with a statement “Consumption is the enemy of culture” that accompanies the video. Westwood has been an advocate for sustainability for far longer than Burberry (she banned fur in 2007 after a meeting with PETA) but both are equally heading in the right direction.
AN ANNIVERSARY TO REMEMBER
For the landmark tenth anniversary of her eponymous brand, Victoria Beckham confirmed that her label would continue to remain fur-free. However, anti-fur activists protested outside the venue. Beckham decided to bring the show from New York to London for the momentous occasion and the collection was a triumphant homecoming. In the show, Beckham produced new takes on clean, simple cuts with striped dresses, trench coats and angular skirts. The severe lines were softened with lace accents that broke down some of the more mannish silhouettes of suit trousers and jackets into elegant ensembles that demonstrated a true example of business chic. The collection proved that sustainability doesn’t have to be obvious or explicit to be effective. Hopefully, Beckham will develop the brand’s ethos further over the next ten years to become even more cruelty-free and sustainable.
By Freya Alsop
Image: Wonderland Magazine