Virtual fashion weeks could be here to stay

And Miss Rona ain’t to blame for it. A new CFDA report details why.

by Mahoro Seward
12 October 2020, 11:56am

Eckhaus Latta SS21. Photography Darian DiCianno/

The last four or so weeks have played host to the most surreal fashion month in living memory, though we’ll forgive you if it passed you by (go catch up here, if that’s the case!). This season, the ongoing pandemic forced many -- editors, buyers, influencers and all the rest -- to forgo their (at least) biannual pilgrimages to New York, London, Milan and Paris, and take it all in through screens from the comfort of their own homes. Naturally, not everyone is on board with this new normal of fashion presentation, pining after the sense of community and spectacle that physical fashion weeks offer. But according to Sustainability by Design: Rethinking New York Fashion Week, a report released by the CFDA — the organising body behind New York Fashion Week — digital fashion shows may be something we’ll have to start getting used to in the longterm.

Miss Rona’s not to blame here though. Instead, the findings of the enquiry are in relation to that other big existential threat we currently face: the climate crisis. Created in partnership with The Boston Consulting Group, Sustainability by Design: Rethinking New York Fashion Week offers a holistic overview of the impact that the city’s biannual event has on both the local and global environment, looking into areas including event production, logistics, transportation, and public relations.

The findings show that a typical NYFW generates up to a whopping 480k tons of carbon dioxide, with the responsibility for the majority of this tied to the air transportation of guests to and from the event. Accommodation comes in as the second most significant source of emissions, generating up to 1480 tons of carbon dioxide per season. In plain terms, it’s made clear that a huge obstacle on the road to making fashion weeks more sustainable affairs is the vast number of people that turn up to them.

For the next fashion week, set to take place in February, the CFDA has announced that it is working on a series of virtual events for industry participants, details of which will be revealed closer to the time. In the meantime, though, you can read the full results of the Sustainability by Design: Rethinking New York Fashion Week report here.

New York Fashion Week