Hosted by luxury sustainability platform Blank, the free public showcase during New York Fashion Week aims to spotlight the processes, methods, materials and new creators (among them Apparis and Olistic the Label) making collections with lower carbon footprints and sustainability ingrained from the get-go. The event will be held during the day of Sept. 10 with a VIP dinner to follow suit at an undisclosed location in downtown Manhattan.
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Blank has already held successful events in London, Los Angeles and San Francisco drawing 200 attendees, but founder Brittney McDonald sees New York as an important proof-case for showing that sustainability is synonymous with luxury.
“Whether at NYFW or in a different curated exhibit, the objective is always for people to leave with awareness of the brands, designers and solutions available to them and the long-term impact that has on the carbon footprint,” McDonald told WWD. “So when given the choice between a ‘regular’ brand or a sustainable one, they feel empowered and compelled to choose the sustainable option. And over time those actions collectively help lower our carbon footprint.”
Confirmed designers include Apparis (known for its colorful faux furs), Olistic the Label (a luxury label boosting organic sericulture and natural fibers), Ethiquette (a semi-couture eco-fashion house offering upcycled pieces) and Phi 1.1618 (whose name is a play on the “golden ratio” of sustainable design). Further, Blank looks to secure four more sustainable designers or environmentally geared material innovators to round out the showcase. Designers can apply or seek partnership opportunities by emailing any inquiries to Blank.
Designers are vetted by Blank’s brand values which espouse authenticity, education, inclusivity and representation. Quality, price and accessibility are also determining factors. But McDonald insists that the most important factor in selecting designers is finding those who are thinking of sustainable solutions at the onset of product creation.
“That can be done in a variety of ways, including upcycling material, using alternative materials and borrowing from legacy formulas that actually extend the use of materials,” she said. “All innovative in their own right, but with each approach creating sustainable impact to the carbon footprint at the start of the process, rather than just offsetting based on what was created.”
With the advent of digital shows, fashion week has managed less spend and impact. Last September, 21 designers (or roughly 23 percent of the 91 designers on the fashion week calendar) planned digital activations for NYFW, including Zero + Maria Cornejo, Harlem-based denim designer Oak and Acorn, and more. Digital shows were listed in a series of recommendations in a robust study on the impact of physical shows by organizer Council of Fashion Designers of America, together with the Boston Consulting Group.
But the return to in-person events in the U.S., despite looming and ongoing health public health emergencies, still boasts its appeal to touch and visual-oriented industries like fashion. McDonald’s goal with Blank’s first New York Fashion Week debut is to “change the way people perceive and engage with sustainable fashion.”
“Sustainable fashion does not equate to lesser quality, material [or] design. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma and perception of sustainable fashion not being ‘luxury,’ she argued. “That is simply not true.”