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Author: Lynda Rowland, Posted: Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 09:00

The climate emergency was high on the agenda at the recent London Fashion Week.

Extinction Rebellion protested by blocking roads to try to get the event cancelled due to the impact it believes the fashion industry is having on the environment.

However, the show went on and top-end handbag designer Anya Hindmarch launched a new bag made from recycled plastic bottles and coated with recycled plastic windshields. She marked this with an awareness-raising initiative when she closed all her five London Stores and filled them with 80,000 plastic bottles. Viewed through the shop windows, these represented the number of bottles purchased globally every six seconds.

Her new bags are part of a range called ‘I am a Plastic Bag’, which references her ‘I’m Not a Plastic Bag’ product, which was launched back in 2007. Whilst 13 years ago it was all about raising awareness about the escalating use of plastics, Hindmarch is now highlighting the need for what she calls ‘circularity’, or recycling what is already out there, not making more and, consequently, keeping existing material out of landfill.

Her £5 a time canvas totes from 2007 were produced in partnership with Sainsbury’s and at the time the supermarket chain saw a 58% reduction in demand for single use plastic bags at the tills in just one year. The campaign was ahead of its time and caused quite a sensation. I remember having to dash to my local store as soon as I found out about the bags’ arrival, as they sold out almost immediately each time a batch was delivered.

The new range is not being launched in the same way, and her loyal customers will pay high-end prices for the sleek new tote bags but, once again, Anya Hindmarch is getting her message across effectively.

A surprise royal visitor to London Fashion Week also exemplifies the concept of recycling and sustainability in the context of her own wardrobe.

Princess Anne is actually the President of the British Fashion and Textile Association, which is a subsidiary organisation of the British Fashion Council, but is probably not best known for her fashion choices.

Whereas over the years Princesses Margaret and Diana, and more recently the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex, have been regarded as style icons, Anne has always been known as more of a pragmatic rather than glamorous dresser.

The Princess was at London Fashion Week to present the Queen Elizabeth II Award to jewellers Alighieri for their commitment to sustainability and ethical practices.

Anne, who is known for her frugality in clothes-shopping, is being seen as an unlikely influence this year with her neat suits, block colours, blouses and penchant for re-working and re-wearing items over and over again. The fact that she has managed to keep her trim figure and trademark hairstyle for many decades has obviously helped her stick to her own personal style!

Design house Preen were also thinking about the climate crisis with a beautiful show featuring their signature feminine dresses but, this time, they were made from off-cuts from previous collections, as well as the ubiquitous recycled plastic bottles. They also demonstrated their moral consciousness by donating the waste textiles from their manufacturing to initiatives which have been set up to teach sewing skills.

So, London Fashion Week may be seen as a time of self-indulgence for the industry, but its message is increasingly one of sustainability, eco-awareness and promoting new ways of dressing.

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