Extinction Rebellion’s Funeral Protest Ends London Fashion Week

Niklas HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
Extinction Rebellion protestors stage a funeral to protest the fashion industry's impact on the environment.

The eco-focused movement, created to encourage government action on global climate change and other environmental issues, staged a "London Fashion Week: Rest in Peace" funeral protest after a failed request to cancel the shows.

While New York Fashion Week consisted of an array of experiential fashion performances, London Fashion Week went back to more traditional runway presentations. But the week ended with another type of performance — a funeral staged by Extinction Rebellion (or XR), the British movement founded in October 2018 that is focused on creative events intended to push the government to action on global climate change, conservation and other environmental issues.

Titled "London Fashion Week: Rest in Peace," the staged funeral was intended to "commemorate the lives that have been lost due to climate change and ecological collapse," XR spokeswoman Sara Arnold told the Evening Standard. The funeral processed down the Strand to the central venue of London Fashion Week, where protestors wearing white with blood-like red streaks across their chests were stationed earlier in the week. Participants in the funeral were clad in black, wearing veils and carrying white roses, some carrying black coffins labeled with XR logos and the phrase "Our Future." Others, part of a performance-based protest group dubbed The Red Brigade," dressed in red with matching head pieces and faces painted white with contrasting crimson lipstick.

Described on its site as "an international apolitical network using non-violent direction action to persuade governments to act on the Climate and Ecological Emergency," the group also held a protest outside of the Victoria Beckham spring 2020 show.

In June, Extinction Rebellion urged consumers to join them in a yearlong fashion boycott with a pledge "not to buy new clothing or textiles" for 52 weeks to curb the adverse effects of fashion on the earth. The pledge encourages a fashion philosophy of "share, repair, rewear and relove." A July letter from the group entreated the British Fashion Council to cancel London Fashion Week, calling out the huge environmental impact of the $2.4 trillion industry and, in particular, fast-fashion brands.

Earlier this month, just prior to the start of New York Fashion Week, the new book Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes by style reporter Dana Thomas hit shelves, chronicling the negative impact of the disposable fashion business on the environment, society and more, while also urging consumers to buy less.

The fashion industry has been making larger efforts to clean up its act.  This summer, fashion designer Stella McCartney (long at the forefront of sustainable, ethical fashion at the luxury level) was named a sustainability advisor to global luxury group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. At the G7 Summit last month in France, Kering CEO Francois-Henri Pinault (known for his leadership on sustainable business practices in the industry) presented a Fashion Pact of sustainability goals signed by 32 global fashion companies, representing 150 brands. Last week, Kering-owned Gucci announced its commitment to 100 percent carbon neutrality to offset supply chain greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainability was a theme at some spring 2020 shows, such as the presentation of a capsule collection called Re:Style designed by New York-based fashion designer Maria Cornejo using leftover Hyundai Transys car seat waste. The eco-conscious British designers Vin + Omi opened London Fashion Week with their spring 2020 collection, created out of fabric fashioned out of nettles from Prince Charles’ garden. "You can screw each other, but stop fucking the planet," said the voice of Debbie Harry, who walked the runway, over a loudspeaker before the show began.

The Vin + Omi presentation was held at the Savoy, and the design duo have further crafted uniforms for the doormen out of the hotel’s plastic waste, which are set to debut next spring along with a special scarf to be peddled in the gift shop.