Oct 9, 2020
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CFDA analyzes environmental impact of NYFW in new study

Oct 9, 2020

The Council of Fashion Designers of America is adding to its sustainability initiatives with a new analysis of New York Fashion Week's environmental impact. 


Released in partnership with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), 'Sustainability by Design: Rethinking New York Fashion Week' features a 'comprehensive executive summary' and report on the environmental impact of NYFW, as well as a 'Playbook for Positive Change.' The study was originally scheduled to be published in April, but was postponed due to Covid-19, and -- according to BCG estimates -- the pandemic has cost the global fashion industry between $480 billion and $640 billion thus far.

The executive summary and report include an assessment and analysis of NYFW’s current ecosystem, including event production, logistics, transportation, and public relations, the CFDA said, while identifying priorities and opportunities to transform the season of fashion shows and presentations.

The study found that the typical NYFW - -in contrast to the predominantly digital September season -- generates up to 48,000 tons of carbon dioxide, and that air travel to the event is by far the largest contributing factor each season.

The study also found that the greatest reason for the absence of sustainability-related targets for NYFW among participating organizations was that sustainability is not "top of mind" when it comes to decision making. 

To provide action steps, the study's playbook offers guidelines and strategies for improving NYFW's environmental impact catered to a range of creatives, including small to mid-sized designers and brands, event producers, and those working in public relations and editorial. 

“In February, when the CFDA and BCG launched the focused study, nobody could have anticipated the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Steven Kolb, CEO of the CFDA said. 

“The new reality demanded we all radically rethink and reset every aspect of the fashion system, and are resilient and innovative in the way we address the urgent climate change and pollution related impacts of our industry. The study’s findings and recommendations provide useful guidance to fashion stakeholder New York and are also intended to also serve the global fashion industry.”

Members of the report's steering committee include Gabriela Hearst, Virginia Ritchie of Tommy Hilfiger; Hillary Taymour of Collina Strada; and Lucie Brigham of United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP), among others. 

In preparation for next February's NYFW, the CFDA said it is planning to hold a series of virtual engagements to guide fashion week stakeholders via education and collaboration with BCG and support from UNOP and the Conscious Fashion Campaign. 

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