OUR LETTER TO THE FASHION INDUSTRY: CULTURE, TELL THE TRUTH
There's no fashion on a dead planet. We beg you, use your talent to sustain all life not just business as usual.
To all creatives, crafts-people, artisans, makers, technicians, business people, influencers, role-models, campaigners, connectors and problem-solvers who have worked tirelessly to change the fashion industry...
Please know that Extinction Rebellion act with love and respect and ask for truth and justice.
We are not shutting down London Fashion Week.
We are not ending fashion or creativity.
We are not asking for Fashion Weeks to be banned.
We are not ending catwalks forever.
We are not stopping business, dead in its tracks.
We are not punishing small sustainable brands.
But a dead planet will.
We are all faced with a choice; wait till we are forced to stop as a result of this crisis or start the hard transition ourselves.
This is an emergency. The Amazon is burning and the permafrost is melting - both crucial tipping points that bring us right to the cliff edge of runaway climate and ecological breakdown. The UN Secretary General has warned us that humanity faces a 'direct existential threat' if we do not change course by 2020 but the radical action needed to avoid collapse has not yet begun.
Nature is at its knees and we need unprecedented mobilisation to regenerate the planet, cutting carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and halting the loss of biodiversity as quickly as possible. And so, we ask you to consider this: If London Fashion Week goes ahead in September, fashion designers, regardless of whether they are ‘sustainable’ or not, will be showing collections for 2020. And, if Fashion Week continues next season, the subsequent production will be for Autumn of 2020 through to 2021. This goes past the deadline the UN has warned us of.
Why is this industry - one perceived as a definer of the zeitgeist - not acting on the warning signs, and instead focusing on showing clothes for a season that marks the turning point we must adhere to in order to avoid catastrophe? Can fashion claim to be cultural if it is so out of sync with the times?
We challenged the British Fashion Council to follow in the footsteps of Stockholm, who have cancelled their fashion week and are investigating how they can transform themselves into a platform relevant for this day and age. As Extinction Rebellion, we stand firm in the need to call for cancellation. It’s our duty to ask for what is necessary to mitigate this crisis, instead of what is perceived as achievable within our current systems.
In our letter to the British Fashion Council, we asked that the fashion industry convene for crisis talks, and as a platform to declare a climate and ecological emergency. We have talked to the BFC about setting up a People’s Assembly which would help work out a way in which the industry can transform itself. We have also discussed how declaring an emergency can be done and how we can all use London Fashion Week as a platform to educate people on the crisis we find ourselves in.
Like all of you, we want a planet fit for generations to come. This requires total systemic change from our governments. You may ask then, why we call on the fashion industry, particularly the event of London Fashion Week to act? For the political will, we need culture to lead the way and tell the truth.
If London Fashion Week is indeed a demonstration of culture, it has a responsibility in this time of crisis. At this time of unprecedented existential threat, the most influential industry on the planet is duty bound to use that influence to help save the planet. This is not about the worst culprits or blaming or shaming but about what we can achieve collectively with the power of creativity and culture.
You all say you value sustainability, so ask yourself, how can you use the culture of fashion to help sustain life on earth, instead of using ‘sustainability’ as an attempt to sustain business as usual? Let’s face it, however ‘sustainable’ it is, clothing can not save us from this crisis.
Ask yourselves, how can fashion’s communicative power be used to alert people to this crisis? How can you use this last fashion week, this narrowing window of opportunity to save life on earth before it’s too late?
The alarm is sounding but only when someone takes the initiative to leave the building, will others follow. Will you do it? Or will Fashion Week be, once again, a celebration of newness that paints over this crisis?
We are in a total emergency. Our species and all species rely on what you do now. Fashion has the power to change the world, but not through business as usual. Instead we must wake people up to their power as citizens. Collectively we have the power to resist the system that is killing us.
Join us at London Fashion Week on September 17th, 2019. We will end London Fashion Weekwith a funeral procession to pause and reflect on all life lost and that will be lost to this crisis before we start a new chapter.
True culture can flourish on the streets using its power for meaningful change. What can our creative minds achieve? Our imagination and collective action is the limit.
We beg of you, don’t get distracted by our tactics and use of language. More than ever, we must come together and focus on the real issue here. Dividing each other over semantics will slow down the progress we need at this crucial time. Our planet is dying and our life support system is being taken from beneath our feet. If we realise it and act now, we have the power to change our course. The alternative is heading for extinction.
With love and rage,