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Sustainability at the Baftas: the future of fast fashion in the film industry

ByAilsa Nixon

Feb 14, 2020

At this time of year, the array of sensational red carpet looks is enough to excite anyone with even the faintest interest in fashion. The influence of award ceremony style has become as such, where celebrities are just as likely to be remembered for their outfits, as they are for their accolades.

But this year, in an effort to promote sustainability, Bafta encouraged guests to either re-wear something they already owned or to hire an ensemble, instead of buying something new. Sustainable fashion guides were created by the London College of Fashion, in order to help with this.

A spokesperson for Bafta explained: “Sustainability is very important to Bafta, and we’re doing more than ever before… Where sustainable choices are unable to be made, Bafta is offsetting, as well as giving guests the tools to offset their own travel and make sustainable fashion choices.”

The changes come after it was revealed that the fashion industry produces approximately 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Furthermore, a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation claimed the amount of clothing bought has doubled in fifteen years, but the number of times an item is worn has fallen by 20%. It is clear that the industry has to do something; but was the sustainable awards ceremony a success?

Some celebrities did jump on board, with the Duchess of Cambridge donning an Alexander McQueen dress she first wore in 2012. The Duchess’s outfit repeat has been celebrated on several Best Dressed lists, proving that the right dress has the power to make a statement on more than one occasion. Additionally, Joker star Joaquin Phoenix announced that he would be wearing the same suit to every awards show this year, in a bid to reduce waste. The actor first attended the Golden Globe Awards wearing a custom-made tuxedo by Stella McCartney and has sported it for every ceremony since.

TV presenter Laura Whitmore also supported the decision, sharing her delight in an Instagram post: “This year @Bafta film awards are going carbon neutral. They’ve also asked for everyone to wear something they already own! Love this idea.” However, the Love Island host did go on to add that all of her award ceremony looks “were all worn and loved again by other people.”This is typical of red carpet fashion. After gowns have graced the red carpet, their wearers usually return them to their designers, who collect them for their archives. Where this isn’t the case, garments are normally resold or reused. It is rare that red carpet fashion is discarded, suggesting that this section of the industry is already relatively sustainable.

This could explain why, despite the recommendations, many celebrities stuck to their regular red carpet routine; pulling fashion from recent couture and the pre-fall collections. Perhaps they saw no issue with the way things normally work; or, perhaps, Bafta simply issued the advice too late for them to come on board?

With designers like Stella McCartney pioneering ethical materials for their new lines, and models like Jade Mcsorley setting up swap-shops, in response to the vast amount of clothing they come into contact with on a daily basis, it would appear that Bafta is far from the only organisation attempting to move towards sustainability.

There does seem to be substantial evidence that the fashion industry is changing; sustainable materials are beginning to be prioritised and re-wearing of garments is being encouraged. Although Bafta may not have had the sustainable impact they aimed to, it was definitely a step in the right direction. In our age of manic consumption, seeing the stars we look up to embracing a new form of fashion, could be revolutionary; if Kate can rock an outfit repeat, maybe we can too.

Image: Hyrabould via en.wikipedia.org