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LFW: Let's Talk About Ethics Baby

21/02/2017 16:28 | Updated 22 February 2017
Victor VIRGILE via Getty Images

London Fashion Week blew in and out of town in a flurry of colour, sequins and PVC. The great and the good of the fashion world descended on the capital to view the latest collections form the best in British design talent and there were some beautiful shows from Mary Katrantzou to Erdem to big ticket Burberry, giving us hints as to what we'll be wearing come the autumn (or, in Burberry's case, next week - their collection is available now. Yes, now. That's just how fast fashion has become.) For all the glamour and the undoubtedly impressive British talent, from an ethical fashion view point LFW is a tough nut to crack.

This is mainly because ethics and sustainability as a theme seems to come fairly low on the agenda. Whereas in the past (pre-2016) the Estethica initiative showcased top ethical and sustainable design talent in one particular area of LFW, now there is nothing to tell you if what a designer is doing is ethical or not. Labels or genres can be found - New Gen, Future British, Headonism... the list goes on, but nothing flying the flag or supporting up and coming sustainable talent. As a buyer searching for sustainable brands it makes it pretty tough. Yes, we can visit each and every designer and ask them about their production but a bit of extra work for us is not the issue here.

The fashion industry needs to be more vocal and more proud of doing things the right way - ethical production should be something we are shouting about from the roof tops, not shying away from. Perhaps it is about perception. Perhaps it is to do with a lack of clarity on what is classed as sustainable fashion (a term that doesn't sit well with many in the industry). In fact in this 'post-truth' world what we crave and what we need is transparency (and no, I'm not referring to Erdem's delicate devore; pretty as it was).

The British Fashion Council is attempting to tackle the issue - as a part of its Positive Fashion campaign. For 2017 they have pledged to "celebrate press practise and provide a platform to tell good news stories that facilitate change". Fingers crossed it bears fruit - talking openly and positively about sustainability and ethics is so important in raising awareness and encouraging designers to do more. In addition, they have created a database of UK manufacturers which aims to make it easier for designers to gain ethical supply chain certificates. It is a start but there is so much more to be done - not least in terms of funding ethical talent.

Political references have been a feature of this season's shows - from overt slogans to the symbolism of the return of the corset, to the grand Dame Vivienne Westwood's Climate Revolution event at the re-opened Fabric. The real Fashion Revolution needs to be more than a passing trend. By producing collections in an ethical and sustainable way that respects and protects both people and planet, fashion brands can have a real and positive impact on some of the biggest issues of our time - human rights, climate change and sexual discrimination. It's time designers put their money wear their mouths are and harness their potential power to make a difference.

Those that follow ethical fashion will have noticed the appearance of a new Instagram account from sustainable fashion's pin up girl, Emma Watson. @The_Press_Tour features impeccably styled outfits worn by Emma on her promotional tour for Beauty and the Beast. Granted we can't all afford Stella McCartney and Oscar De La Renta, and we certainly can't all have the ethical credentials of our clothes individually verified by Eco Age (though you can make a start by shopping at ethically minded stores like Gather&See). But the essence of what she is doing is exactly what we need to see more of in the British fashion industry and that is talking about and celebrating clothes that are made in the right way. Let's hope that, come next LFW, a whole lot more of London's fashionistas are following Emma's lead and giving credit to how their own clothes are produced. It's high time that ethical fashion to take centre stage.

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