‘A New Awareness’ Spotlights Sustainable Fashion in Milan

Samantha Conti

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MILAN — The Milanese might not have taken to the streets to shout about climate change over the weekend, but that doesn’t mean they’re not thinking about it — or committing to change. During Milan Fashion Week, designers, campaigners and eco-advocates got together at the 10 Corso Como outlet space for a multiday exhibition of sustainable ideas and collaborations.

The exhibition, “A New Awareness,” was organized by Sara Sozzani Maino, head of Vogue Talents and Vogue Italia deputy editor for special fashion projects, who brought on board 10 Corso Como, Fashion Revolution Italy, Politecnico di Milano School of Management and WRAD Living.

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“We wanted to bring ‘behind the scenes’ work to the forefront, talk about the suppliers, the fashion industry workers. We want to help from the bottom up,” said Dr. Hakan Karaosman, researcher at Politecnico di Milano School of Management, during a walkthrough of the space.

He said young consumers are not only buying less than their elders, they’re asking more questions about what they are buying, too. Their purchasing habits are shaped by intangible values like diversity, equality and transparency, “and they need answers,” he said.

By 2025, Karaosman added, Generations Y and Z will represent 45 percent of luxury goods consumption, which is why the worlds of fashion and luxury need to make changes and speak up now.

Among the exhibitors was Duran Lantink, a Dutch designer based in Amsterdam who specializes in cutting up dead stock, designer and branded clothing, and splicing them into new looks.

He gets his stock from stores such as Browns and Liberty in London, and said his mission is not only to create something new, but to end “brand dictatorship” and telegraph the message that brands are producing too much stuff.

The award-winning British designer Bethany Williams was there, too, showing off her latest collection, which is made from recycled and organic fabrics. She works with a variety of charities, and this season is donating 20 percent of proceeds from her sales to Spires, in South London, which helps protect women living on the streets. She has also been working with women at the San Patrignano drug dependency program, training them to work with textiles.

Earlier this year, the London-based Williams won the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design, which recognizes the role the fashion industry plays in society and highlights designers who are making a difference through sustainable practices or community engagement.

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