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Sustainability Played a Role at London Fashion Week - Just Don't Call It 'Eco'

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Sustainable designers were showcased alongside mainstream counterparts, but ‘green’ terminology remains off-putting. 

Cara Delevingne in the Topshop catwalk show during London Fashion Week. Did sustainability figure? Credit: Justin Tallis/PA. 

The Christopher Raeburn show during London fashion week. Credit: Ian Gavan/Getty Images.

With 58 catwalk shows and 24 presentations over five days, London Fashion Week 2014 reasserted the capital’s status as a leader in the global fashion industry last week, while its sustainable fashion initiative Estethica, entered its 17th season.

The initiative is co-curated by Orsola de Castro and Filippo Ricci, founders of green label From Somewhere, together with the British Fashion Council. Since it was founded in 2006, it has supported more than 100 designers from over 20 countries. This year Estethica exhibited a selection of designers – four emerging and eight established – chosen for their ethical credentials and design acumen.

“When we started I was the only one speaking the language,” De Castro explains. “We were the first to look at the design first and give sustainability equal importance, offering designers like Christopher Raeburn (2008 winner of the Ethical Fashion Forum’s Innovation competition, whose most famous collection uses redeployed military fabrics) genuine incubation.” 

Estethica’s more established designers – including Auria, Pachacuti and Eden Diodati – were showcased in the Designer Showrooms at Somerset House, while emerging sustainable designers – Flavia La Rocca, Katie Jones, Louise De Testa, and Wool and the Gang – were shown nearby.

Commenting on the rise of Estethica’s reputation, De Castro says: “Initially I had to sit here, to sell and pull in press. Now they come to see us.” The duo have carved out a space for Estethica as a front-runner in the sustainable fashion movement.

For Diana Verde Nieto, founder and CEO of Positive Luxury, whose directory of brands taking steps toward sustainability includes Burberry, Moshi Moshi and Nicholas Kirkwood, the word sustainability can be limiting. Terminology is often a sticking point in dialogue throughout London Fashion Week with “eco” and “green” assumed to imply judgmental or worthy attitudes. Through Positive Luxury, Vieto aims to use language as a bridge instead of a barrier, associating sustainability with aspirational qualities such as high quality craftsmanship and superior materials. 

Read more at The Guardian