Paris Fashion Week, renowned for its opulence and innovation, provides a captivating yet sobering glimpse into the world of high fashion. Having recently experienced the event firsthand, E&M author Ona Marina de Vilallonga found herself torn between admiration for its creativity and concern over its environmental impact.

The allure of Paris Fashion Week lies in its extravagant displays of haute couture and avant-garde trends, each collection adding to fashion’s evolution. However, amidst the glitz and glamour, I couldn’t ignore the impact of consumerism at the event. The constant chase for newness and extravaganza fueled overconsumption, showing the fashion industry’s contradictions. From lavish runway shows to extravagant parties, the event epitomizes a culture of excess. As a consumer I could see how this glamorous and fascinating display of not just clothes but lifestyle portrayed globally during fashion week, is an efficient way to generate new materialistic urges that cloud our environmental awareness and responsibility.

As Alec Leach, author of The World is on Fire But We’re still buying shoes aptly notes “The industry expertly hacks human psychology, playing with deeply rooted themes like status and belonging in order to keep us lusting after new things, fueling those same out of control shopping habits that are trashing the planet.” Paris Fashion Week epitomizes this cycle.

Having the opportunity to see a runway show in the flesh, I found myself torn between admiration for the beauty and innovation of new collections and the sobering realization of their role in perpetuating consumerism. While the allure of these collections is undeniable, they also serve as constant instigators of consumerism, fueling the desire for novelty and perpetuating the cycle of overconsumption. This internal conflict underscored the inherent contradictions within the fashion industry, where the pursuit of creativity and innovation often collides with the imperative for environmental responsibility.

Seeing how the industry thrives on novelty and constant turnover and the influence that the fashion industry has globally, it is apparent that fashion will continue to be produced in the long run. Considering this, what became very apparent to me personally was the importance of taking ownership over our shopping habits. Supporting brands that make small efforts into breaking this relentless cycle of trends is a good way to start. Witnessing Paloma Wool’s dedication to responsable practices such as producing with local suppliers reaffirmed the importance of supporting such initiatives.

Paloma Wool is a Barcelona based contemporary fashion clothing brand with a unique blend of artistic expression, sustainable practices, and avant-garde design, that recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary. One notable aspect of Paloma Wool’s approach is its embrace of inclusivity and reduction of production quantities. The brand’s unisex section not only promotes gender-neutral fashion but also contributes to minimizing waste by offering versatile pieces that appeal to a broader audience. By designing with inclusivity in mind and producing in smaller quantities Paloma Wool demonstrates a thoughtful approach to fashion that prioritizes both sustainability and accessibility.

Another small differentiating factor that I found to be very important is its dedication to reeducating consumers about the value of each piece and promoting versatile styling options. During my time assisting the show and working at the showroom, I saw firsthand how they present each piece of the collection with endless possibilities. This simple yet effective strategy encourages consumers to reimagine their wardrobe and give each piece a long cycle of use by wearing it in different ways. By promoting versatility and creativity in styling, Paloma Wool fosters a mindset of mindful consumption and maximizes the lifespan of each garment.

Moreover, behind each design lies a meticulous design team that prioritizes durability and wearability. Paloma Wool invests in thorough research and development to ensure that their products are not only aesthetically pleasing but also built to last. By focusing on quality craftsmanship and durable materials, the brand empowers consumers to invest in pieces that they can cherish for years to come. This emphasis on longevity not only reduces the environmental impact of fashion but also cultivates a sense of satisfaction and pride in ownership.

As highlighted in the BoF 2024 Fashion Report : “fashion supply chains could be under increased scrutiny amid incoming regulations on several fronts. This includes new sustainability rules in the European Union and the US, which will require brands and manufacturers to double down on initiatives aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions and waste, while building business models that protect and preserve natural resources.” As we eagerly anticipate further regulations and sustainability standards within the fashion industry, it becomes increasingly crucial for consumers to take proactive steps in the meantime. While new regulations, such as those emerging in the European Union and the US, are set to hold fashion supply chains more accountable for their environmental impact, consumers can make a significant difference through intentional and meaningful purchasing decisions supporting brands that align with their values, consumers can drive demand for eco-friendly practices and contribute to a more sustainable future for fashion. By supporting brands like Paloma Wool, consumers can actively participate in mitigating this impact and fostering positive change.

In conclusion, Paris Fashion Week should serve as both a celebration of creativity and a stark reminder of the urgent need for environmental responsibility in the fashion industry. It’s imperative that we rethink our approach to fashion consumption and support initiatives that prioritize sustainability, versatility, and durability. Only then can we truly transform the fashion landscape for the better.

 

Text & Photo by Ona Marina de Vilallonga

Leach, A. (2021b) The world is on fire but we’re still buying shoes: Casimir Books. McKinsey & Company. (2024). State of Fashion. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/state-of-fashion

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    Hi, I'm Ona Marina. I'm a Marketing grad but have always been fascinated by the world of fashion and its different intersections with politics, art and sustainability. You will find me assisting stylists around the world or working on my own brand.

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