a new blueprint for fashion editorials
London-based sustainability and fashion-tech agency Techstyler and creative production house BBLS Studio have brought together pioneering fashion brands and platforms to create the world’s first sustainable, carbon calculated fashion editorial shoot. The project was delivered by prominent fashion brands sustainability credentials, including London-based Sabinna, BEEN London, Blackhorse Lane Denim, Fabric for Freedom, Marques Almeida and Patrick McDowell. International brands involved include Jacquemus, Gucci and Bottega Venetta, sourced from By Rotation and Vestiaire Collective.
The pervasive mood of glossy fashion editorials has traditionally been one of unattainable ‘perfection’ and prohibitively expensive (aka aspirational) clothing. Some might say it is also elite and increasingly detached from the concerns and motivations of fashion purchasing in an era of the climate crisis, and now COVID-19. Sure, any kind of consumption requires resources and has a planetary impact. However some have more impact than others, and at a time when consumers are being asked to be more conscious and discerning regarding the sustainability credentials of their clothing, there is a lack of clear (but cool) fashion editorials and online content to inspire empowered and insightful fashion consumption – whether it be physical or virtual.
Dress: Patrick McDowell
Boots: Tabitha Ringwood X Patrick McDowell
Earrings: Emma Aitchison
Dress: Voyage London from By Rotation
Boots: Tabitha Ringwood X Patrick McDowell
Further to this, fashion editorials are still working under the legacy arrangement of featuring their advertised brands in their editorials. A review of a cross-section of well-known fashion magazine titles demonstrates a notable absence of the fast-emerging fashion business models that allow consumers to shop more sustainably, and virtually. Except for some upcycled pieces occasionally featured, we could find no inclusion of rental, resale and clothes sharing options in glossy magazine editorials. Recent research has also shown a lack of representation of SME brands operating in the publishing regions of the titles reviewed, who tend to manufacture lower volumes, reducing deadstock and supporting the local manufacturing industry.
With this said, Techstyler has partnered with BBLS Studio, a London-based creative agency that promotes fashion in a context that doesn’t diminish the natural beauty of ‘real’ people and presents fashion that has sustainability credentials. Anyone working in sustainability, or even following the media discourse, will know that sustainable fashion is a confusing and ill-defined term. Is it recycled materials? Is it fair wages and decent working conditions? Is it organic cotton? Is it wearing clothes for more than 30 times? Sustainability is not binary. It has many shades of grey, which leaves it open for misinterpretation, green-washing and downright falsities.
To begin to demystify ‘sustainable’ fashion and present a broader representation of fashion to consumers, Techstyler and BBLS have conducted a fashion shoot where we considered every step of the process and selected clothing and accessories based on these pre-defined sustainability credentials: recycled (contains recycled materials), upcycled (remade from old materials/clothing), rental, resale, local manufacturing (UK), natural fibres only (no synthetic materials used, ie. no risk of microplastic pollution) and digital fashion. To demonstrate the sustainability features of each product in the shoot, symbols representing these 7 characteristics were included in the editorial imagery.
Typically, glossy fashion editorial shoots are conducted on location, often abroad, requiring international flights, transportation of props, sets and clothes. For perspective, when planning the low-impact shoot, Techstyler assessed the resources used for Vogue Italia’s pivotal September issue:
“One hundred and fifty people. 20 flights and a dozen or so train journeys. Forty cars on standby. Sixty international deliveries. Lights switched on for at least ten hours nonstop, partly powered by gasoline-fuelled generators. Food waste from the catering services. Plastic to wrap the garments. Electricity to recharge phones, cameras … ”Emanuele Farneti, Editor, Vogue Italia
In creating an alternative blueprint for low impact fashion editorials, we employed these rules to cut carbon emissions and reduce waste:
- No couriers – all deliveries made using public transport or bicycle
- No single-use plastic packaging or consumables
- No food waste – used homemade food and the Karma app (rescuing leftovers from restaurants)
- No set or studio – all shots taken outdoors with natural light in local spaces
- Makeup used – organic, and cruelty and plastic-free
- Work with local designers and brands, where possible
- Models – sourced in partnership with Crumb Agency, shot with natural hair styling and no retouching
The resource consumption for our low-impact shoot, including preparation and planning, was:
- 90 hours working on laptops
- Approximately 150 emails sent
- 24 camera hours (digital)
- 12 return London Underground journeys of average 9 miles each way
- 10 deliveries and returns by bicycle/on foot
- 2 deliveries/returns by car of average distance 1.5 miles
This resulted in total calculated CO2 emissions of 7.9kg.
By way of a simple comparison with the Vogue Italia shoot, 20 flights from London to Milan, for example, would generate 1,760 kg of CO2, without taking into account any of the other resources used, including electricity, cars, trains and shipping of clothing. This demonstrates what a huge impact shooting locally has on reducing carbon emissions.
“One of the main reasons that we decided to participate in the shoot is that we believe in social sustainability. Social sustainability for us is about community-building and collaboration and through that, increasing know-how in each link in the social chain. We believe that this can only happen if you work locally, with local makers and partners. This was a great opportunity to achieve that.”Han Ates, Founder, Blackhorse Lane Denim
Brands featured in the shoot include Sabinna, designed and manufactured from end-of-roll fabrics in London; Patrick McDowell who operates a slow fashion business model incorporating upcycling and is also locally manufactured and accessories brand BEEN London, which uses recycled materials and manufactures in London, as well as Gucci, Jacquemus, Bottega Venetta and Maison Margiela pieces from Vestiaire Collective and By Rotation.
Innovation agency and sister-company of Techstyler, BRIA, created the digital fashion pieces from their archive knitwear pieces. Although the blueprint we have created is a vast improvement on the traditional shoot format – the reduction in CO2 emissions by our blueprint is clear – we have to concede that this particular collaboration was unsustainable in the sense that the creative output of the shoot was not paid for. The Techstyler X BBLS teams created this as a proof-of-concept to formulate the blueprint for other creative teams to follow.
For more information about the Low Impact Shoot please contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
Concept: Techstyler @techstyler and BBLS Studio Ltd @bbls.studio Art Direction and Photography: Beatrice Tamagnini @beatrice_tamagnini and Nicole Haines @nichai.va Video: Beatrice Lebrun @beatricelebrun_Styling: Alicia Ellis @aliciarobynellis Make up: Billie McKenzie @billie_mua Models: Jess @jessylaw and Danni @dannisp00ner from Crumb Agency @crumbagency Digital Garments: BRIA @bria_uk
3D Digital Artist: Aubrey Parnell @aubrey_parnell Video Editing: Jorgina Elias @jorginaelias Graphics: Marco A Cacioni @m_a_cacioni Production: BBLS Studio @bbls.studio Sustainability analysis and brand curation: Techstyler @techstyler PR & Comms: Jordanne Young @jordanne_littlethoughts
Clothing and accessories partner for the shoot:
Gucci via Vestiaire Collective
Matthew Williamson via Vestiaire Collective
Bottega Veneta via By Rotation
Maison Margiela via By Rotation
Voyage London via By Rotation
Stine Goya via By Rotation
Jimmy Choo via By Rotation
Marques’Almeida via By Rotation
Blackhorse Lane Denim
BRIA digital fashion
Fabric for Freedom
Notes on CO2 emissions calculations:
We used the LNER carbon emissions calculator, which is derived from the DEFRA CO2 emissions factor to calculate transportation emissions, along with Climate Care to calculate email and digital device energy consumption. We were unable to calculate the emissions attributed to the garment and accessories, as this would require Lifecycle Analysis data on each product – information that is not available. We calculated the carbon emissions attributed to the manner in which the shoot was conducted, which is what the blueprint aims to re-evaluate.