Fashion Advertising is an arena that, over the past few years, has evolved into an artistic entity of its own. As brands seek to communicate a message that extends beyond the products they are putting on display, those at the top of their game have shunned traditional handbag shots and replaced them with extravagant montages that present a broader and bigger picture of luxury. From clothes burning scandals to eye-opening BBC documentaries, a series of turning points have gathered pace and we sit at the cusp of what could be the most significant year yet for sustainable fashion. 2019 is poised to be a watershed year for fashion and sustainability as more and more designers – particularly those belonging to the younger generation – are looking for new ways to ensure their clothes are produced are as environmentally and ethically consciously as possible.
The goal of fashion advertising is to connect potential customers with the brand. A new level of fashion-focused scrutiny has popped into the limelight upon a wave of heightened environmental awareness and activism, catalyzed by the culture of immediacy and reactionary causes to the wastefulness of the previous generations. 2018 witnessed the value of the ethical clothing market increase by 19.9 per cent according to Ethical Consumer. With 34 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds and 29 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds withholding spending when a product has a negative impact on the environment, the fashion industry needs to catch up, if not for the planet then at the very least for its bottom-line.
As brands clamor to prove their green badges, the number of sustainable women’s wear items has jumped 128 per cent. Even Versace, which has long been an emblem of excess, has given itself a sustainable makeover. You can now find organic cotton T-shirts for sale on their site but the bigger story is their new sustainable concept boutique. Designed by Gwenael Nicolas, it has been awarded a gold level rating by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
The first iteration of the boutique opened in Bal Harbour, Miami Beach and while it’s expectedly gold and shiny, it points to the dawn of a new era in retail design for the year ahead. Versace, alongside Burberry, Gucci, DKNY, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Jean Paul Gaultier, Diane Von Furstenburg and DKNY, announced fur will no longer feature in its collections. London Fashion Week was the first of the major cities to declare fur-free status in September 2018. As big brands race to retrofit their operations to fall in line with eco-expectations, a new breed of designers are building brands on green foundations from day one, signalling the start of a new outlook in fashion:
One where sustainability, luxury and aesthetics sit in harmony.
“There’s no bigger luxury than our future” – Donatella Versace
Innovative new designers and sustainable makeovers get us somewhere but fashion, a disparate and broadly unregulated industry, has so far been controlling its own narrative; highlighting the good and burying the bad. For all the talk, all the ‘green-washing’, fashion continues to pollute, abuse and overuse. However, public discourse around the issue has caught the attention of bodies that can make real, sweeping reforms and it’s that which may be set to incite real change in 2019.