High-End Fashion Brands Are Pushing Greener Practices to the Runway

New York, London, Milan, Paris – fashion week may not want to curb its CO2 emissions, but the brands are showing them how they should.

The environmental impact of the fashion industry extends far beyond just clothing production. Fashion week’s carbon footprint is a significant part of the industry’s environmental impact. The massive travel, hotel stays, and transportation for attendees result in high greenhouse gas emissions, with New York Fashion Week alone emitting about 48,000 metric tons of CO2, according to a CFDA report,[1] the equivalent of burning 52 million pounds of coal.[2]

However, the demand for sustainable fashion is driving change. More brands are integrating eco-friendly production methods into their collections to reduce their environmental impact. This year, even Copenhagen Fashion Week set a new standard, setting a list of sustainability requirements for all brands who want to participate in the event in 2023.

Some major fashion houses are taking steps in the right direction. These steps include hosting carbon-neutral fashion shows, leaning on local and artisanal craftsmanship, and adopting environment-friendly retail stores.


La mode, en vert

For its 2023 menswear showcase in Morocco, Saint Laurent aimed to host a zero net carbon event by implementing measures to minimize its environmental impact.[3] These measures featured offsetting emissions, utilizing recycled materials and equipment, and supporting local communities through philanthropic efforts and impact assessments in various cities of the country, including planting fruit trees and installing an irrigation system, digging a well and adding solar systems, and setting up a garden to educate children about sustainable practices and local biodiversity conservation.

The year of the traditional green practices

American fashion designer, Angel Chang, has embraced sustainable fashion by showcasing traditional techniques passed down through 14 generations of Chinese herbalists. Her garments are produced by hand and locally, using all-natural, in-season materials, without electricity, plastics, synthetic chemicals, or fossil fuels, resulting in a zero-carbon release.[4]


Striving for the environment’s La Dolce Vita

Fashion icon Prada is pushing in a similar direction by embracing eco-friendly retail stores.[5] As a testament to its efforts, the Italian brand has received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard certification – a widely recognized third-party measure that aims to make a positive impact on communities.

Fashion brands are prioritizing sustainability by offering more eco-friendly products, embracing circular fashion, and using alternative raw materials, while also increasing transparency with clothing traceability and digital passports. For example, Zegna has launched its fully traceable Oasi Cashmere line, with QR codes allowing consumers to track the journey of the clothes from fiber to finished product.[6]

Brands such as Stella McCartney, Balenciaga, and Hermès use mycelium leather as a sustainable alternative to animal leather.[7] Moving towards a circular economy with initiatives like second-hand retail, recycling, upcycling, and repairing, Fashion East is leading the charge with its entire 2023 collection made from deadstock material.[8]

We all know that the road fashion brands have to take is long and complicated, but it’s a great sign when the big names in the game are making strides like these.



[1] “Could sustainability make a bigger impact at next year’s Fashion Week?,” thred.com. Available at: https://thred.com/style/could-sustainability-make-a-bigger-impact-at-next-years-fashion-week/#:~:text=According%20to%20CFDA%20reports%2C%20New,environmental%20impacts%20of%20their%20events.

[2] Equivalency calculator. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator#results

[3] “Saint Laurent’s Desert Fashion Show in Morocco Will Be Carbon-neutral,” wwd.com. Available at: https://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/saint-laurents-desert-fashion-show-in-morocco-will-be-carbon-neutral-1235253485/

[4] “Behind Angel Chang’s Electricity-free Fashion for Spring 2023,” wwd.com. Available at: https://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/fashion-reviews-angel-chang-spring-1235315997/

[5] Sustainability trends 2023: 7 ways retailers will make a difference,” thefutureofecommerce.com. Available at: https://www.the-future-of-commerce.com/2022/10/13/sustainability-trends-2023/#jumplink4

[6] “Milan Fashion Week Men’s A/W 2023: Gucci to JW Anderson,” wallpaper.com. Available at: https://www.wallpaper.com/fashion-beauty/milan-fashion-week-mens-aw-2023

[7] “How Fashion Can Swap Leather with Mushrooms,” forbes.com. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/walterloeb/2022/06/10/is-there-a-future-of-for-leather-in-fashion/?sh=50e520fa7817

[8] “Fashion East,” vogue.com. Available at: https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-2023-ready-to-wear/fashion-east


Author: Giuseppe Scandariato