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Extinction Rebellion
courtesy of Instagram/@extinctionrebellion

Extinction Rebellion wants to ‘shut down’ London Fashion Week

The environmental activists are trying to change the ‘culture around consumption’

Extinction Rebellion is back, and this time it’s planning to “shut down” London Fashion Week in order to raise awareness of the environmental damage caused by the fashion industry. The biannual five-day fashion event, which will next take place in September, won’t be disrupting actual catwalks, but rather, delay fashion week attendees from getting to shows on time.

The activist group, which has previously staged roadblocks in major UK cities, stripped down in the House of Commons, and sparked worldwide die-ins in public areas across the globe, has demanded that the British Fashion Council cancel the event, which is due to start on September 13. “For us, this is the last fashion week. We think if fashion week is still happening next season, we're still at the point where we haven’t got to grips with this crisis quick enough,” Sara Arnold, who’s running the campaign, told Dazed.

With a specific focus on changing the “culture around consumption”, areas that will be targeted include the British Fashion Council headquarters in Somerset House and New Bond Street in London’s West End. “The fashion industry has a huge part to play in the current climate disaster,” said Arnold. We’re singling out LFW because they’re thought leaders, they’re cultural leaders, and for that they need to step up and alert people to this emergency. They have to use the platform they have to its maximum potential.”

When asked to respond on what the fashion industry could do to be more sustainable, Arnold said: “Well I think they need to start facing the fact it is an emergency, but really facing it. If they do that, and you realise that it's your life or your children's life at stake, then what are you prepared to do to save these lives.” 

“We don't want to give exact solutions, it's for us to tell people to face the truth, and through our actions we will help people to start facing what the truth is and then it's for them to get into that mindset of what they can do when they really think of it as an emergency,” she continued.

Extinction Rebellion has also planned a “funeral” to take place on the final day of the biannual event on September 17. Called London Fashion Week: Rest in Peace, the event aims to bring a ceremonious event to the fashion week. 

“Join us for a funeral for LFW on the 17th of September, which will pay respect to its legacy and put it to rest forevermore. This will be a time to pause and reflect on the lives already being lost and that will be lost as a result of climate and ecological breakdown,” reads the event description on Facebook.

Responding to Extinction Rebellion’s plans to “cancel” LFW, Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, told Dazed: “We are pleased that we live in a country where we have a right to protest peacefully, and believe that more than any other capital London has an opportunity to be a part of a cultural change around sustainable business practices that put creative product at their core.”

“London Fashion Week is a platform to showcase the very best creative businesses in our country. The unique DNA of London is based around creativity, innovation and cultural change, which is why we encourage the showcase of British businesses engaging in sustainable business practices,” she explained.

Rush carried on to say that September’s fashion week will feature businesses that focus on positive fashion, rather than fast fashion. “The BFC wants to give those designers a platform to demonstrate that business can be done differently. We believe that the platform of London Fashion Week can communicate to both industry and general public, that not all businesses are equal and that those that support a better future are the ones that should be supported to be able to encourage more to adapt better business practices of positive change,” she said.