Hysteria in London has died down and the fashion frenzy has boarded a luxury jet to Milan. Left behind is nothing but delicate hangovers, a new-found appreciation for flat shoes and mountains of empty coffee cups.
There’s a legacy at London Fashion Week for championing up-and-coming British designers. In fact, us brits are known for the wild, wonderful and Avant-Garde. However, despite 2018 being a year of debuts and homecomings is LFW really keeping up with modern London?
This year we welcomed home our very own Victoria Beckham who has decamped from her usual New York slot to come back for her 10-year anniversary. Another top designer Mary Katrantzou also celebrated her decade in the industry by hosting a show in the capital. Alexa Chung showed us she meant business by making her London Fashion Week debut, joining the much-anticipated reveal of Riccardo Tisci’s new Burberry collection. We had models wearing breast pumps on the runway, and some even ditching the well-known backstage chaos for face masks and massages. There’s no doubt fashion is taking us forward in their own mustard and ruffle loving direction, but is it following the real times?
London is aiming for a greener future with new schemes constantly being brought in to make the city eco-friendlier. We recycle, up-cycle and everything in between, and as a former fashion student I know it’s hammered home that you will not succeed as an up-and-coming designer if you don’t join the sustainable fashion band wagon.
However, why should it be down to the new designers to enforce change? Surely the big dogs should be heading up this party. Let’s not forget Burberry’s scandal of burning £28m worth of surplus stock last year – it seems like they could do with a lecture in sustainability and inventory forecasting. Previously at Fashion week it’s felt like concern for the environment was big news. Maybe it’s out of trend or, in the words of Regina George, “like, so last year”.
We need to remember that London is also one of the most diverse cities in the world. Our 2011 census revealed that 40.2% of the city’s population was of a different ethnicity. However, in February’s fashion week only 34.6% of shows represented models of colour. We also embrace coming in all shapes and sizes. A surge of relatable influencers and models coming from normal working-class backgrounds has encouraged our younger generations to work with what you have. This year we saw the beautiful Winnie Harlow open the show for House of Holland, but a part of me still feels like it’s seen as a publicity stunt. Plus-sized models are still few and far between, and representation across the board is lagging far behind and isn’t reflective of what makes up modern British culture and people.
I’m certainly not on my own with brands being wildly criticised for having a token model. Showcasing one plus-sized, or trans, or ethnic model on your runway for a PR stunt is not encouraging permanent change. Only when it becomes a regular occurrence will it ever be accepted as the norm.
I am by no means saying we haven’t taken strides in recent years, but it’s definitely time the industry took a long hard look outside the Fashion bubble and brought itself up to date.