MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s fashion elite and celebrities such as film stars Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore and Colin Firth gathered at a “green-carpet” event on Sunday at Milan’s fashion week to urge greater environmental sustainability in the global fashion industry.
The black-tie gathering was the closing event to the city’s six-day fashion extravaganza, a week after London’s fashion week declared itself fur-free for the first time.
Fashion brands have begun paying more attention to their companies’ impact on the environment and their production methods as customers are becoming increasingly ecologically aware in their choices.
A total of 13 awards were handed out at the second edition of the ‘Green Carpet fashion Awards’, promoted by Italy’s national fashion association, CNMI, and sustainability consultancy Eco-Age, founded and directed by Italian film producer Livia Firth, the wife of Colin Firth.
“Fashion can be very beautiful and lucrative, but to be here for a real purpose for me is important,” model Elle Macpherson said.
Winners, who have demonstrated commitment to and investment in change, included McPherson and the cobblers of fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo SpA.
Colin Firth told Reuters that the event, held at Milan’s La Scala opera house, meant that the message could spread and “inspire all sorts of other people”.
Moore said she was impressed by the commitment of everyone in the fashion industry toward sustainability, with people “really taking responsibility.”
“No one industry can tackle climate change and the sustainability issue by itself,” Blanchett said, adding the fashion industry, however, was influential enough to spearhead change.
CNMI President Carlo Capasa said sustainability was not just about fur but upgrading rules on the use of chemicals, recycling, production methods and work conditions.
The CNMI is drawing up a set of guidelines, some of which are already published on its website.
A growing number of luxury groups, including Versace, Gucci and Armani, have given up fur in their collections. Others are finding new techniques to make their supply chains more green, including dying techniques and recycling.
“Sustainability is important as it is the future. There is only one way forward”, Livia Firth said, adding that fashion companies had to look to sustainability to be profitable in the long run.
But brands, producers, designers and industry experts agreed the process was initially costly and would take time.
“You have to start somewhere … (it) takes years (and) you can’t change overnight, but you have to start, be courageous and have a vision,” Livia Firth added.
Reporting by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Peter Cooney