Paris Fashion Week intends to lead the charge to better understand the environmental impact of fashion shows. Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, the French fashion’s governing body, tapped auditing, accounting and consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers to develop two new tools to measure the environmental, social and economic impacts of its many runway shows.
After 18 months of conception, the tools are set to launch for the Spring/Summer 2022 season slated from 27 September to 5 October, which is expected to be both physical and digital. Before then, men’s and couture shows in June and July will return to physical form after pivoting to fully digital events during the pandemic.
“We have developed a tool that can be duplicated in space and adapted to different types of events,” Pascal Morand, executive president of Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, told journalists on Friday. “Paris is the world’s capital of fashion, and it has been said that Paris is the world capital of digital fashion with online fashion week. It’s our responsibility to develop the necessary tools in terms of sustainability.” An advisory committee around the PwC development included fashion show production company Bureau Betak and PR agency DLX, while 37 stakeholders, including houses such as Chanel, Hermès, Kering, model agencies and venues, also participated in the project.
“All the environmental, social and economic parameters are taken into account; it’s a balance,” said Sylvain Lambert, PWC partner, co-head of sustainability, advising Paris Fashion Week. No estimate of the event’s total carbon emissions in million tonnes was provided. “We have to be wary of preconceived ideas: it is clear that one can think that travel has an impact. But we have to know what it encompasses, and the tool will allow that. We have intuition, but we will wait for the figure.”
Fashion week in Paris as well as New York, Milan and London have been scrutinised for their hefty environmental footprint: the in-person shows call for editors, buyers, models and other talent and attendees to travel across the globe several times a year. A 2019 Saint Laurent runway show staged on the shores of Malibu received criticism for flouting environmental regulations. The pandemic, which forced fashion organisers’ hands to account for digital viewings, offered the industry a chance to rethink its approach to fashion month. Paris organisers intend for the PwC tool, while not a fix-all, to eventually be open-source, allowing for uniform transparency for impact and sustainability across other events.