The travel carbon emissions of the fashion industry’s attendance at major international fashion weeks - including New York, London, Milan and Paris – have been measured for the first time. The figures are released today in a report – Zero To Market - by fashion technology company ORDRE.com in collaboration with climate change consultancy, the Carbon Trust.
Over a 12-month period, the carbon emissions of buyers from 2,697 retail organisations and 5,096 ready-to-wear designers participating in international fashion weeks, over the four major fashion seasons, were measured.
Combined, the industry emits 241,000 tCO2e a year from the travel associated with wholesale buying practices. “For decades the industry has been addicted to the travel associated with participating in the international fashion week circuit. For the first time, the carbon impact of this travel has now been quantified. We are an industry that thrives on innovation and now is the time to start thinking about the business of fashion differently.” Simon P Lock, Founder & CEO, ORDRE.com
The research has also identified the following:
• Travel to New York fashion week accounts for the most carbon emissions (37% of all emissions) followed by Paris (28%), London (18%) and Milan (17%).
• Total emissions of 241,000 tCO2e are equivalent to the annual emissions of a small country, such as Saint Kitts and Nevis, or the consumption of 27 million gallons of petrol or the electricity used by 42,000 homes for a year.
• The fashion industry spends an estimated US$1.4 billion on travel in order to attend the four major fashion weeks.
• For an individual fashion buyer, the business travel element of their personal carbon footprint is 12.1 tCO2e – this is two times higher than the average carbon footprint for a global citizen (5.28 tCO2e).
“While the emissions measured in this study are likely to be a small percentage of the fashion industry’s total emissions, it is a highly visible part of the industry where positive change has the ability to be influential across the supply chain and other industries.” Pauline Op de Beeck, Sustainable Fashion Lead, Client Manager, the Carbon Trust
ORDRE.com is hoping that the report's findings will start an industry-wide debate on the sustainability of the international fashion week circuit and, ultimately, to the adoption of more sustainable business practices. ORDRE.com is already contributing to sustainable practices through the development of virtual showrooms for the wholesale collections of designers using ORB360 technology that is providing an alternative to travel.
Key points for discussion raised in the report include:
Making fashion week schedules more sustainable by: collapsing and curating schedules, combining men’s and women’s events, and showing main and pre collections at the same time.
Making fashion shows, showrooms and presentations more sustainable by: limiting locations to defined areas, encouraging the use of shared venues, establishing sustainable production codes, and embracing digital technology to present collections.
Reducing the impact of travel by: avoiding business class which has far higher carbon emissions per passenger, choosing train travel over flying where possible, and the greater use of electric vehicles, sharing houses rather than booking hotels, and working with travel companies that have robust sustainability polices.
The industry’s leading sustainability body, the Global Fashion Agenda, is positive that the Zero To Market report will help improve understanding of the real impact of fashion.
“The conversation about the fashion industry’s environmental footprint has focussed on the supply chain, however, the entire fashion system has to be taken into account, including the impact of the industry’s mechanism: continuous creation of new collections and trends fueling the demand to present new products, global fashion weeks, trade shows, runway shows and all related travel” Eva Kruse, CEO, Global Fashion Agenda
Notes to Consider:
- The research considered the carbon emissions of buyers from 2,697 retail organisations and 5,096 ready-to-wear designers.
It is likely that the figures are an underestimate given that the research looked at just a sample of the total number of retailers, brands and buyers attending and did not include the emissions generated by others who attend fashion weeks, such as the media and influencers.
The travel undertaken by retailers, buyers and designers in order to attend four major fashion weeks around the world - New York, London, Milan and Paris - and over four womenswear and two menswear seasons a year were assessed. Participation and attendance at additional major fashion weeks and trade shows was also included in the dataset.
The Carbon Trust analysis considered carbon emissions from:
• air travel to and from showroom destinations for retailers and designers • the transportation of the collections to the various showroom locations • intra-city travel covering retailers and designers travelling to various appointments • hotel stays of retail buyers and designer staff; and • travel from hotels to showroom locations and from airports to hotels.
Emissions associated with the running of showrooms were not included, as the aim of the calculations was to determine the emissions associated with the travel aspect of the ready-to-wear buying process.
The full Zero To Market report has been released here on ORDRE.com
Read Elizabeth Paton from The New York Times point of view here
For further information:
ORDRE.com: Lucie Villemin - [email protected]
The Carbon Trust: Press office - [email protected]
The Global Fashion Agenda: Dana Shou - [email protected]