This week I've been lucky enough to visit the world's biggest lingerie show in Paris, which was on again for the first time in 2 years. It's a joy and a privilege to travel again, even when it takes twice as long and costs twice as much, and I'm grateful for the opportunity.
Paris this year was one of enormous contrasts. There's some absolutely great stuff and some that is a worry.
In 2020, following the Burberry incineration story, the French were the first to introduce a world-first, anti-waste-law to ban companies from destroying unsold or returned goods. Among other things, the law covers designer clothes, which must now be reused, redistributed, recycled or donated - GREAT STUFF!
They will be the first to add carbon rating labelling to clothing and they will also be the first to ensure clothing has a 'passport' detailing the location of every step of its production - weaving/dying/printing/making - BRAVO!!!
Where products contain more than 50% synthetic fibres (recycled or not) the statement - "releases plastic microfibers into the environment during washing" must be on all labelling - WOOHOO!
In addition, a staggering 51% of french women currently buy vintage, and half of an entire floor of the flagship Galleries Lafayette is given over to quality vintage clothing - can you imagine that in DJs? Harrods or Harvey Nichols?!
Then THE BAD, to be honest, I was shocked at the over-use of the words 'eco', 'sustainable' 'recycled' and 'green' which seemed to be on every material as well as finished products. Things have changed so much in the 7 years since i first went and was the only freak looking for compostable materials. I stood in front of stands with 'ECO' in the brand name, looking at rows and rows of nylon underwear and wondering what exactly the 'eco' was referring to?
I also watched a panel on sustainability where one of the largest lingerie brands on the planet talked about using 'some recycled lace' in 'some of its ranges', which of course means they still ALL end up in landfill for 200 years. Astoundingly, all 7 panellists had a single-use plastic bottle of water in front of them whilst there was a water fountain 10m away. Is this the best we can do?
There's a long way to go before we are actually walking the talk. In the end, consumers have very limited capacity to impact a product, it's up to brands, and the designers are most responsible for creating products in a way that ensures they leave minimal impact on the planet through washing, and at end of life.