Paris Fashion Week is arguably the fashion peak of the year and everyone who’s anyone in the fashion world is in attendance. This year, the Louis Vuitton fashion show concluded the week long exhibits, and it made headlines not only due to the juxtaposing elements of art and authenticity in the clothing pieces but the addition of a runway crasher.
In the midst of the show, Marie Cohuet, a member of Extinction Rebellion, stood up, joined the models, and walked the length of the runway with the large sign “Consumption = Extinction.” After making it to the end of the runway, she was escorted out by security but not before solidifying her place in numerous photos. Exctincion Rebellion is an environmental organization that uses nonviolent methods of disobedience to raise awareness and compel government action in environmental issues. This particular protest was a general critique of the largely wasteful nature of the fashion industry and the environmentally harmful effects it produces.
The fashion world is no stranger to runway protests and has quite a history of being a platform for advocates. These protests range from fur to mental health advocacy. There are also the famous videos of Gisele Bundchen being targeted by PETA members.
Recently, sustainability has been a major movement in the fashion industry with luxury houses finally beginning to promote and practice both ethical and environmental methods of production. Celebrities are re-wearing gowns on the red carpet and Livia Firth is spearheading awareness by hosting the Renaissance Awards to honor young environmental activists. Luxury fashion brand Chloé just became the first of its kind to earn a B Corp Certification. The B Corp Certification is a rigorous set of standards that require companies to report on various areas of its impacts in order to be granted the certification. Brands such as Patagonia have made the list but no luxury brand has before Chloé. Certifications such as that one are necessary since there is still such a large grey area surrounding what it means to be sustainable or “environmentally conscious.” By outlining clear expectations, these brands can now be held accountable by respected organizations.
All of this is well and good, and any movement toward sustainability is better than no movement, but I must say that the Louis Vuitton protestors have a powerful point. What it does all boil down to is that there is far too much consumption. People buy clothes to wear once or for only a short period of time and then dispose of it. It’s a two-way street because often the “cheap” clothes people are buying are not meant to last and thus brands trap the consumer in this cycle. Whether the item breaks or shrinks may not even matter because trend cycles happen so fast that people believe they need a constant flow of purchases to stay stylish. The key to sustainability is investment and longevity. Believe me, I completely sympathize with the struggle of the pricier sustainable clothes but resale is always an option as well as just being aware of trendy clothes and ultimately avoiding them. Invest in a pair of comfortable classic jeans, some nice sweaters, and maybe a pair of Vejas and you’ll be set for a while, and the earth will thank you.