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Copenhagen Fashion Week hits 35 out of 37 sustainability targets

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Image: Copenhagen Fashion Week; Helmstedt SS23

Copenhagen Fashion Week has shared a status update on the third and final year of its first-ever sustainability strategy, first announced in January 2020 to offer a radical new approach to make real change within the fashion industry, as it continues to hold itself accountable and maintain transparency.

In a statement, Copenhagen Fashion Week said it had successfully met 35 of the 37 targets set for its 2020-2022 Sustainability Action Plan and hit 13 out of 14 targets for this year. However, it did not achieve its target of reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent compared to 2019, mainly due to its hospitality programme accounting for nearly 90 percent of its total emissions.

Copenhagen Fashion Week has implemented some carbon emission-cutting initiatives though, such as ensuring that hospitality guests from neighbouring countries travel by train and by offsetting the carbon emissions of its hospitality programme and all other operations of fashion week in collaboration with Climaider.

It has also reduced the average carbon footprint per guest for catering by 77 percent, while the total carbon footprint for catering was reduced by 16 percent due to more events taking place in 2022 compared to 2019, helped by only serving vegetarian and vegan foods at its events. It has also reduced carbon emissions for printed material by 55 percent and cut out merchandise completely.

Commenting on why it did not meet its carbon emissions goal, Copenhagen Fashion Week said in the annual report: “We believe that our ability to impact the global industry to accelerate its sustainability efforts is interlinked with our position as an internationally visited and acknowledged fashion week.

“As an agenda-setting fashion week whose sustainability efforts are looked at and recognised by the wider industry, Copenhagen Fashion Week has deliberately chosen not to reduce the number of international guests at our events, even though doing so would immediately and significantly lower our carbon emissions due to fewer flights and allow us to reach our initial climate goal.”

Copenhagen Fashion Week shares update on 2020-2022 Sustainability Action Plan

Other significant milestones from the event's initial sustainability plan include implementing a zero-waste policy, including a ban on single-use materials, such as plastic bottles and cutlery, in any part of the event production for brands on the official show schedule and for its own events.

Copenhagen Fashion Week’s Sustainability Requirements were also selected by the government-funded programme (Grøn Genstart) Fremtidens Tekstilkrav as the framework to train 50 SMEs in the Danish fashion and textiles industry to lead to targeted action. That framework has also been adopted by the trade fair CIFF, Norwegian Fashion Hub, the Norwegian fashion event Oslo Runway and the Icelandic Fashion Council.

In addition, the autumn/winter 2023 showcase, taking place from January 31 to February 3, 2023, will mark the first season where all participating brands must meet 18 minimum sustainability standards to be part of the official schedule. This includes ensuring that all brands must offset or inset their show emissions to be eligible to showcase.

Copenhagen Fashion Week pushes ahead with sustainability goals for 2023-2025

In 2023, Copenhagen Fashion Week states it will launch its new 2023–2025 Action Plan, which will map out a new pathway for the event for the next three years. The plan will expand on its initial sustainability plan, as well as set new targets to “further intensify our collaborative approach with external stakeholders”.

Copenhagen Fashion Week added in the report: “Our vision is to continue being an agenda-setting platform that uses its voice to accelerate sustainability efforts in the fashion industry. Copenhagen Fashion Week approaches sustainability holistically by focusing on environmental and social challenges and by acknowledging cultural and behavioural aspects that are crucial in the long run to reinventing and innovating business models.

“That is why Copenhagen Fashion Week aspires to lead by example by being not just an inspirational fashion event but an organisation that comprehensively addresses sustainability not only for our benefit but that of the brands and partners we work with. We are excited to share our continuous strategic effort on sustainability with you soon and we hope it will inspire you to act.”

Copenhagen Fashion Week