SUSTAINABLE fashion is big news in the fashion capitals of New York, London and Madrid.

At this year’s BAFTA’s, actors were asked to take a worthy look at their wardrobes for the red carpet. Some did, including Kate Middleton, who wore a recycled gown from 2012, and Saoirse Ronan who was dressed in discarded satin.

And now Madrid has hosted its first ever Sustainable Fashion Week, syncing with New York. After oil, fashion is the world’s most polluting industry. 

With 30 national and international designers showing their wares at the innovative Talent Garden and two other venues in the capital, the most striking element of the shows was their inclusiveness. 

Models of all ages, sizes and colour embodied the idea of ‘slow’ fashion by walking with deliberate care down the runway while the familiar voice of Greta Thunberg in the background reminded us of the perils of unbridled consumption.

The older women received the most enthusiastic applause, presumably for their gutsy approach to ageing, rather than the outfits they were modelling, many of which were not that easy to carry off. 

Fashion shows in general have a habit of rolling out designs that look anything but prêt-a-porter and Madrid’s SFW was no exception.

Like rye bread – better for you but a hard chew compared to white – this was wholesome fare. Think shorts and tank tops fashioned from hemp sacks, Japanese-style robes sat far enough off the chest to invite a draft and untreated leather bags buckled at angles. Who knows, they could catch on. After all, who would have thought we would buy into jerseys adorned with steel studs?

The polar opposite of the lycra-filled threads they are challenging, these designs are clearly taking us in a new direction, one we can feel good about inside. And for those of us who struggle to look stylish in hemp, they might at least drive us to shop less or go vintage.

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