Climate Week Versus Fashion Week

Climate Week Versus Fashion Week

September 13th marked the beginning of “Mercedes Benz Week” in New York; September 20th marks the end of Fashion Week and the start of New York Climate Week.

Tamara Giltsoff
  • 22 september 2009

September 13th marked the beginning of “Mercedes Benz Week” in New York; September 20th marks the end of Fashion Week and the start of New York Climate Week – “Climate Week NYC” – an event organized by a partnership that includes The Climate Group, the UN, the UN Foundation, the City of New York, the Government of Denmark, Tck Tck Tck Campaign, and The Carbon Disclosure Project. As part of the week, world leaders will gather today in the largest-ever gathering of heads of State and government on climate change.

“No issue better demonstrates the need for global solidarity,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon emphasized. “No challenge so powerfully compels us to widen our horizons.”

These are momentous times in the city; also such strikingly contradictory times. These two events make for beautifully rich illustrations of the complexities and challenges of global climate negotiations and the task ahead to redefine economies in (what we now are beginning to except is) a finite world. They also make for an illustration of life’s polarity: half escaping ourselves in creative expression, consumption and performance, and half living the hard environmental, social and political realities of globalization.

‘Fashion’ is at the heart of our consumer-driven and status obsessed society; it’s also a symbol of the externalization of the true costs of consumption. “I Shop Therefore I Am’, said Barbra Kruger, but so overwhelmed by the status and meaning of consumption we’ve become it’s now clear we lost our connection to the planetary resources and human capital required to make all the stuff we want. It’s hard to rewind on this.

‘Climate’, on the other hand, is at the heart of a longer term look at the planet and economic system and how and if it will be at all possible to carry on with the rate of fashion cycles and material consumption as we know it, into this century. The climate debate puts a value on carbon and natural resource use, and impact on society and economy, and asks us to rethink industries with this value in mind. Paul Dickenson, the CEO of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) , at their launch event this Monday morning told his audience of Fortune 500 companies who disclosed their carbon that there is one word for the opportunity for growth opportunity in carbon economy: “dematerialisation” – creating value through non-material services that reduce resource use.

The fashion industry and climate change (or ‘environment’) are inextricably linked, but also wholly at odds with each other; they are such a symbol of the human challenges ahead in this transition. Fashion is the fuel that feeds consumerism; consumerism, in its current guise, is the fuel that feeds climate change. It’s incredible to think of these two global events in New York in September literally happening back to back.

The fashion industry, and prevailing ‘consumer spend’, is often used as a measure of the sort activity that defines whether or not our economy is flourishing. Fashion is global, uber glamorous, highly creative and drives wealth – both in the necessity it creates to earn more and more to be able to buy more and more each season, and in driving sales of all sorts of goods (ie, not just clothes). Fashion is the genius at engaging stakeholders (or followers) and getting people to wear all sorts of extraordinary things at a cost to them. Fashion makes a good buck and like many industries it uses a healthy chunk of planetary resources and human capital to keep the spending wheel moving.

The ‘climate industry’ poses a vast geopolitical challenge; for some it is a major threat to the free market and ruling corporations because it presents a ‘limit to growth’, and for others it is a (creative) human challenge, the innovation opportunity of the 21st century and potential for new forms of wealth creation and real prosperity. It is not that glamorous (yet) though it is becoming popularized (see Hugh Jackman participate in the opening ceremony of Climate Week ). Compared to fashion industry it is disastrous at creating following, meaning and a vision for people to follow. It is (obviously) global but still largely the domain of the ‘climating classes’ – senior business leaders, policy makers, NGOs, some investors, and grass-roots entrepreneurs. Hence the girls who Top Shop or cover major fashion pages in Conde Nast publications that have mass followings I’m guessing probably won’t stick around for Climate Week. The ‘climate industry’ is growing in importance, meaning and advocacy, but does not have the power and influence on people that fashion does to create movements, community, creativity and ingenuity. Richard Edelman, CEO Edelman, at the very same event as Paul Dickenson describe the ‘lack of face’ or global symbol for climate change and “losing the communication battle” around global negotiations. Why is a look at these two ‘industries’ and their respective ‘New York Week’s’ in anyway meaningful? I think because the two are inextricably linked, the two are somewhat dependent on each other and both can also learn from each other:

Climate Week Versus Fashion Week-2

(click to enlarge)

As Fashion Week transitions to Climate Week in New York this week I will echo the sentiment of James Cameron rounding up the CDP launch event and start of Climate Week this Monday, suggesting that markets (business) and policy makers need to go boldly and confidently forward with global discussions and agreements (COP15), whilst accepting the seriousness of the science and knowing that these negotiations are also inadequate. What he’s suggesting is a level of collaboration and innovation from industries that gets us to these agreements and then beyond the inadequate targets, into wholly new markets. This may require the sort of movement building and market influence that industries like fashion are so good at; and it will require the industries themselves to reinvent.

More on Climate Week as the week progresses…

[image by The Factionist – ethical apparel]


Lancôme's Newest Campaign Stars A Domestic Abuse Survivor

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Small Urban Pavilions Create A Nature Refuge In East London

These relaxing micro shelters provide a haven amidst chaotic city environments

Travel Yesterday

Travel Laundry Pouch Washes Your Clothes Wherever You Are

The Scrubba Wash Bag helps anyone wash their clothes easily and quickly with just a little water and soap


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Social Media Yesterday

Swipe Up To Register To Vote On Snapchat

The social platform has partnered with TurboVote to help young people easily enroll in less than one minute

Children Yesterday

Battle Card Game Promotes Childhood Vaccinations

An Australian doctor has developed a playful way to inform parents about immunization and entertain kids

Related Expert

Jonathan Balck

Advertising Veteran

Fitness / Sport Yesterday

Oakley And Intel’s Sunglasses Give You A Built-In Personal Trainer Wherever You Go

The sunglasses/earbuds hybrid tracks your performance and lets you know how well your workouts are going

Experiential Marketing Yesterday

UNICEF’s ‘Time Machine’ Tells Stories With Data

An experiential installation at the UN General Assembly reminds us why every child matters

Design & Architecture Yesterday

Watch The World’s Tallest Building Become An LED Display

Burj Khalifa gives a backstage look at how the transformation came to be


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed september 23, 2016

Productivity Expert: The Magic Of The Five-Hour Workday

Stephan Aarstol, Founder of Tower Paddle Boards, explains why the modern notion of office hours needs to evolve

PSFK Labs Yesterday

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

Travel Yesterday

Boeing Wants To Make Your Flight Better With Cloud And Star Projections

The manufacturer is trying to patent a projection system that would allow them to project images onto a plane's interior surfaces

Latin America Yesterday

Colombians Teach Dance To Fund Students’ Education

Chocó to Dance is a platform that shows you how to replicate popular Latin dances to help create scholarships for local students

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: What A People-First Workplace Must Prioritize First

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX on why employee fulfillment is a journey and not a destination

Culture Yesterday

Brand Engagement At The Gates Of The World’s Largest Open-Air Gallery

Tiger Beer and a neighborhood-minded nonprofit celebrate and promote New York's creative spirit by beautifying 100 security gates


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Technology Yesterday

How Technology Can Save The World By Saving Time

PSFK attends the Social Good Summit 2016 to see how new tech is changing the world for the better

Travel Yesterday

Marriott’s Gravity Room Installation Gives Travelers A New Perspective

The luxury hotel chain's #MGravityRoom invites visitors to snap and share pictures of its inverted set up

No search results found.