Why both London and New York fashion weeks are set for controversy this year13th Aug 19 | Beauty
One is plagued by political troubles, and the other is facing environmental issues.
Fashion month is fast approaching, with New York’s sartorial event taking place from September 6 – 14 and London following from September 13 – 17.
However, both New York Fashion Week (NYFW) and London Fashion Week (LFW) have been plagued with difficulties before they’ve even started.
Here’s everything you need to know about the troubles both events have run into, and how it may potentially affect the runway shows we’re so used to seeing twice a year.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) runs NYFW, and the troubles it has encountered are mainly political.
You might have seen recent calls on social media to boycott gyms like SoulCycle and Equinox because of their ties to Stephen Ross, the billionaire real estate developer who recently hit the headlines for throwing a re-election fundraising event for Donald Trump at his house in the Hamptons. His wife Kara Ross, a jewellery designer, is on the board of the CFDA, and attended the fundraiser at their house.
Ross’s development company is behind the newly updated Hudson Yards, which is a venue featured heavily on the NYFW schedule. This has caused prominent designers like Prabal Gurung to openly speak out against Ross, and say they would not be showing at Hudson Yards.
On finding out the Ross’s hosted a fundraiser for Trump, Gurung wrote on Twitter it “is appalling, shocking and an indication of their integrity and values”. He added: “My goal here is to start a dialogue and maybe, hopefully, change some minds. I was previously in conversation with Hudson Yards’ The Vessel as the venue for my brand’s upcoming 10 year show during NYFW. When I heard about this fundraiser, I chose to pull my participation.”
According to Fashionista, the CFDA – which is headed up by Tom Ford – has refused to kick Kara Ross off the board, despite calls for her dismissal. This has caused designers like Dana Lorenz of Fallon Jewellery to cancel their membership to the organisation.
Stephen Ross made a response to the outcry last week in a statement saying: “I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions… I have been, and will continue to be, an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability, and I have and will continue to support leaders on both sides of the aisle to address these challenges.”
Overall fashion is a fairly left-leaning industry – NYFW barely goes by without a few protests on the catwalk targeting Donald Trump, so these associations aren’t sitting particularly well. Just think back to Philipp Plein’s 2017 show when many fashion editors refused to sit next to the president’s daughter, Tiffany Trump.
As public figures like Chrissy Teigen, Billy Eichner and Gurung cancel their memberships to Equinox, will these associations with the Stephen and Kara Ross affect NYFW as well?
Fashion has an environmental problem. According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, the textiles industry produces 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year, more than international flights and maritime shipping combined.
Climate activism group Extinction Rebellion wants to do something about this, and has written to the British Fashion Council (BFC) begging for the cancellation of LFW. It writes: “London Fashion Week sets a global precedent. It creates the desire that results in the consumption of fast fashion and beyond.
“Fashion should be a cultural signifier of our times, and yet the industry still adheres to an archaic system of seasonal fashion, adding pressure to relentlessly create new fashion from new materials. The embodied emissions, as well as damaging cultural resonance of fashion weeks, is not something the planet can afford.”
According to Extinction Rebellion, the BFC agreed “we are facing a climate change emergency and all need to act,” but fashion week will still go ahead as usual. Extinction Rebellion later posted on Instagram: “We will not stand by while the natural world is being taken from beneath our feet. We will send a clear sign to the fashion industry that business as usual is leading us to extinction.”
This suggests that the organisation will disrupt the five-day event. It has already organised something called “London Fashion Week: Rest in Peace”, and Ramón Salgado-Touzón, of Extinction Rebellion’s fashion action group, told the Times: “We are planning non-violent direct action civil disobedience.”
This is all in a bid to “shut down” LFW, and will focus more on preventing people from getting in and to shows rather than dramatic storming of the catwalks. If crew, models and fashion editors can’t make it to the shows they need to – which are part of a jam-packed schedule spread all over the city – fashion week could be thrown into disarray.
© Press Association 2019