The Fashion Swamp: Danish Envy and Australian Fashion Week in Peril
Copenhagen Fashion Week is GOALS but Afterpay has pulled out of funding AFW.
News & Reviews Magazine
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The piece you’re reading now is by Divya Venkataraman. Divya is a writer, editor and presenter based in London. She writes across fashion, culture, travel and sustainability for publications like The Guardian, Harper’s Bazaar and more. Previously, she was an editor at Vogue Australia, GQ and Vogue Living, and also contributed regularly to Vogue Australia’s print editions. She has also been a regular contributor to the Sydney Morning Herald. Her work has appeared in publications such as British Vogue, The Australian and Meanjin.
What don’t the Danes do better? They’ve made a real welfare state a reality, they’ve got gorgeously bikeable cities, and they’re mostly implausibly leggy. (I see them and I hear Bridget Jones saying, ‘She’s got legs up to there! Mine only go up to here!’) Copenhagen Fashion Week took place earlier in August and it was a timely reminder of how in this arena, they’ve got it under control too.
Last season, January 2023, was the first time that Copenhagen Fashion Week implemented the sustainability action plan they revealed back in 2020. They ran two seasons of ‘pilot tests’ but now the practice rounds are over all the brands on the CPHFW schedule had to meet 18 minimum requirements before they were allowed to participate (and this continues to be the case this season).
The requirements are expansive and bold. Brands have to commit to not destroying any unsold pieces from previous collections. Many are rumoured to do this but none of them admit to it. Instead, the brands at CPHFW have to sell the garments and accessories at discount stores, or find a way to repurpose them. Fur is also banned, though most have already phased that out anyway. Brands also cannot use single-use packaging in stores or online. And crucially, they have to show that at least 50 per cent of their collection is made from ‘certified, preferred, upcycled or recycled materials’. The reality of ‘certified’ materials is a complicated one—in 2022, the NYT published a piece on how widespread organic cotton fraud is, and how certifications can be manipulated—but putting actual numbers onto requirements is a big step forward.