Climate Change Activist Group ‘Extinction Rebellion’ Stages Protests at London Fashion Week

Ella Chochrek

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Consumers are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious— and Extinction Rebellion wants to make sure everyone is aware of the ways fashion contributes to the planet’s degradation.

The climate change activist group, known as XR, has been staging protests throughout London Fashion Week, which began Sept. 13 and ends Tuesday, Sept. 17.

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On the first day of LFW, XR held a die-in at The Strand, with protestors covered in fake blood symbolizing the lives lost due to climate change. A funeral procession is to be held Tuesday, with the days between marked by protests outside of shows — including the Victoria Beckham presentation on Sunday.

Extinction Rebellion is a peaceful group, but it means business. The large-scale protests are just another in a long list of actions XR has taken. It occupied London’s busy Oxford Circus in April — resulting in 12 million pounds of lost revenue for local businesses, according to New West End Company, a business management company representing the preeminent London West End fashion district. XR met with the British Fashion Council in July, asking that fashion week be canceled and replaced with a people’s assembly on the climate emergency; when BFC did not meet these demands, the protest was planned in place of such an assembly.

During fashion month, the industry travels to global destinations to parade, see, and buy fashion, [and] it creates the desire that results in the consumption of fast fashion,” XR wrote on its Facebook page. “Fashion should be a cultural signifier of our times, and yet the industry still adheres to an archaic system of seasonal fashions, [applying] pressure to relentlessly create new fashion from new materials.”

Meanwhile, London Fashion Week is home to Stella McCartney, who’s long been vocal about her use of responsibly sourced, vegan materials. The designer, who even included XR activists in a campaign, said the group has a right to speak up.

“The youth today is standing up for change and telling us that our house is on fire,” she said. “The science has proven clearly it’s time to shift how we work in this industry collectively and create a better future. If you think about the civil rights and feminist movements, making change and getting the world to listen is not easy and more than well worth a slight moment of inconvenience.”

As an industry, fashion has taken recent strides toward sustainability. Some of the buzziest rising brands — like Allbirds, Rothy’s and Veja — have a focus on using ethically sourced material. Just this week, Gucci made headlines when the Italian luxury label announced it was going 100% carbon neutral, including with its spring ’20 Milan Fashion Week show.

With contributions from Fiona Ma.

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