Is there a future for fashion week?

The fashion industry is under intense scrutiny, built on an outdated linear system that is more damaging for the planet than aviation and construction combined. With the growing concerns over the future of fashion, the catwalks of NYC, London, Milan and Paris have (in the main) blindly ignored the need for change, fuelling the debate for scrapping the concept of fashion weeks entirely. Copenhagen is not typically one of the most high profile fashion weeks, but with the growing rise of Scandi-chic and influential brands like Ganni and Cecilie Bahnsen gaining a mass following, it has been increasingly attracting a global audience.

Cecilie Bahnsen AW20

Copenhagen Fashion Week

On 28 January 2020, the start of Copenhagen Fashion Week AW20, CPHFW CEO Cecilie Thorsmark unveiled the new Sustainability Action Plan 2020-2022: Reinventing Copenhagen Fashion Week – Reducing negative impacts, innovating our business model and accelerating industry change.

“All industry players – including fashion weeks – have to be accountable for their actions and be willing to change the way business is done. 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. Put simply, there can be no status quo,”

Cecilie Thorsmark, Copenhagen Fashion Week CEO

By 2023, CPHFW it is set to be zero waste and any brand wishing to show will have to comply with 17 minimum standards, including using at least 50% certified organic, up-cycled or recycled textiles and only using sustainable packaging and zero-waste set designs for shows.

You can read more about it here.

A Show Without Clothes

Carcel AW20 “Show”

This wasn’t the only radical aspect of CPHFW… The fashion week was opened by up-and-coming label Carcel, which took the opportunity to stage a show without clothes. At the end of it, guests were invited to take to the catwalk themselves, a reference to the need for us all to take action to change the industry together.


There was another shift from the norm at CPHFW as there was a definite focus on vintage and second hand fashion. Berlin based second-hand store “Out of Use” took their exclusive pop-up event to Copenhagen for the duration of fashion week: a first for them. Cladding CPH’s streets in vintage gear, Sissi Pohle and “Burberry Pat” succeeded in creating a desirable buzz around building vintage head-to-toe looks. Sissi herself is a well known model and influencer, working with brands like Zalando, Burberry and more alongside building her new vintage venture.

You can find more about Out of Use on their website, or visit the new concept store H&M Mitte Garten that stocks a curated Out of Use edit.

Fashion Weeks’ Relevance

This now brings us to the start of fashion month, where not surprisingly, it has lost a bit of momentum. New York has struggled for the past few seasons to hold onto it’s most influential and largest designers, with so many of them now either opting for a seasonless approach or showing elsewhere (Tom Ford’s relocation of his AW20 show to LA on the very first day of NYFW being the most significant change).

Backstage Tom Ford SS20

As a trend forecaster it’s been fascinating to watch the shifting of influence away from these seemingly important fashion weeks, polarising the fashion industry into two camps; the faster-than-fast fashion brands who rely heavily on the catwalk for quick-fire trends, or the designers like Stella McCartney, Carcel and others, pushing for change in this damaging industry.

I hope that as the first catwalk season of the new decade, Copenhagen Fashion Week’s bold and necessary move will inspire and ignite passion in the organisers of the more high-profile fashion weeks, persuading them to stand up and act against fast fashion, rather than keep fuelling the unprecedented momentum it has built.

Wherever your fashion priorities lie, it’s an exciting time for change in the fashion world. Let’s hope it’s changing for the better.

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