The buzz topics of Copenhagen Fashion Week 2023: sustainability - of course - and AI. What the fashion industry can learn from this
Source & Copyright by Copenhagen Fashion Week / Ganni Runway SS24
Author: House of Eden
- Copenhagen Fashion Week 2023 is motivating more and more brands to implement ambitious sustainability requirements
- The Zalando Sustainability Award becomes the Zalando Visionary Award and recognizes holistic commitment
- Ganni uses AI as a complementary, values-oriented runway element - away from fashion's widespread skepticism towards technology
Copenhagen Fashion Week drew the fashion world's attention to Denmark's vibrant capital from August 9th to 12th. The fashion capital, which has long since turned the Big Four of fashion weeks into a Big Five, brought together the international fashion scene, renowned names and up-and-coming designers. In addition to the key Spring/Summer 2024 trends, the audience could expect promising newcomers from Scandinavia and beyond, as well as forward-looking concepts that unite the virtual and physical world. In keeping with CPHFW's DNA, of course, under the motto of uncompromisingly striving to accelerate sustainability in fashion. High time for a recap.
Copenhagen Fashion Week 2023: Big stage for even bigger ambitions
Given climate change, the paramount role of the fashion industry, and the general shift toward purposeful and Quiet luxury it's not surprising that the CPHFW is growing and its program is continuously expanding. In the big picture, for many, it even acts as a catalyst for the sustainable development of the sector.
Source & Copyright by Copenhagen Fashion Week / Lovechild 1979 Runway SS24
Ahead of the fashion week, Copenhagen Fashion Week CEO Cecilie Thorsmark spoke to Vogue Scandinavia. As CPHFW continues to evolve not only as a fashion week but also as a platform for the future, its stage for emerging and established leaders must also grow. When implemented, this vision meant not only the expansion of the show timetable, but also of the presentation and event timetable. In contrast to previous editions, the Monday opened as a show day. The entire program included showrooms, presentations, events, dinners, installations - and of course runways.
Whether established brands or newcomers: CPHFW defines mandatory sustainability requirements
Fashion week still insists on its ambitious Sustainability requirements. With these, it introduced a series of minimum standards in six focus areas that cover the entire value chain in the last season (AW23). More precisely, these are 18 mandatory criteria that brands must meet in order to participate. These include the use of at least 50% sustainable, recycled or upcycled materials, zero waste in stage design and show production, and second-life models for material leftovers.
The lineup of the current SS24 edition shows that this approach is motivating instead of intimidating. Several new brands and designers took part. In return, the CPHFW gives them one year to meet the standards. And to increase their commitment if necessary. "We don't see this as an opportunity to lower the bar for fashion week - on the contrary, we see it as an important opportunity to encourage even more brands to urgently accelerate their actions," Thorsmark told Vogue Scandinavia. At the same time, the continued dedication of the experienced show brands is gratifying.
Zalando Visionary Award: Incentive for holistic commitment
A new addition to the Copenhagen Fashion Week 2023 schedule was the inaugural Zalando Visionary Award, which Paolina Russo received for her London brand of the same name. According to the jury, their strong relationships with creative partners and their supply chain, which combines innovation with responsible processes, were decisive.
Source & Copyright by Copenhagen Fashion Week / Paolina Russo Runway SS24
But what exactly is behind the new award? After three years of the Zalando Sustainability Award, the concept was further developed into the Zalando Visionary Award. The ambition behind it pushes a holistic approach: The award puts the spotlight on changemakers who are not only committed to sustainability, but also to design and creativity, innovation and positive social impact. And with the aim of creating meaningful changes for the future.
The application for the award is based on precisely these pillars: creativity and design, social influence and innovation. To be eligible, applicants must excel in disruption in these areas and also meet the sustainability requirements of Copenhagen Fashion Week. Whoever is honored by the international jury, which consists of industry pioneers, representatives of Zalando and the fashion week show committee, will receive prize money as well as support with the show production. For example when looking for a venue or a backstage coordinator.
Ganni uses AI to voice its community and values
Still the Scandi Star: Ganni. The runway of the Danish brand drew the attention of the international scene again this season. Not least because she built her show on the current buzz topics in fashion: sustainability - of course - and artificial intelligence. Contrary to all skepticism, creative director Ditte Reffstrup wanted to inquire about a way that uses AI in fashion with care. That helps to communicate the values of a brand and its community, as well as to understand them on a deeper level.
Together with Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrøm and her studio Artificial Mind, the brand created a personalized GPT tool for this. Means simplified: A tool that works similar to ChatGPT and can generate training-based information. In order to get the essence of what Ganni stands for and the issues that move his fans, the training here was based on diverse data from the brand, as well as online interviews and social media comments from the community. The result: sustainability, socializing and a desirable future - all these values were expressed in the voice of KI integrated. During the show, guests could interact with her and ask questions. The answers came in a soft, computerized voice from speakers attached to trees that lined the catwalk in an avenue. Its content: Ganni's world view, positive energy and the magic of responsible living.
Copenhagen Fashion Week 2023: Buzz around collaboration, next gen materials & diversity
According to the label to Vogue Business, it was never about creating an AI-generated collection. Rather, the aim was to show that artificial intelligence can have its own complementary space in fashion. Without taking over the creative process or its freedom. The fact that this statement is important is proven by the increasing skepticism towards the technology - fueled by the fear that it will suddenly make designers, creative directors and others appear obsolete. But that's exactly what sustainable brands like Ganni don't want. Proving that in the right hands, AI has unprecedented potential to communicate messages more excitingly than ever and create immersive experiences in the phygital world to create. It's about supplementing rather than replacing.
Although the brand didn't use AI for the collection itself, it did serve as inspiration for some designs. Signature styles and silhouettes - floral prints, lace, denim and leather - were complemented by sculpted dresses with organic elements, as well as metallic looks. Worth noting beyond the AI: Ganni unveiled new collaborations with New Balance, Ace & Tate and body positivity model Paloma Elsesser. Her collection also includes models for every body.
Source & Copyright by Copenhagen Fashion Week / Ganni Runway SS24
Parallel to these reveals were three Next-gen materials from the brand's "Fabrics of the Future" initiative features: Oleatex, a leather alternative made from waste from olive oil production; Algreen, biodegradable and recyclable straws made from algae and agricultural waste; and Circulose, a recycled material made from 100 percent discarded textile waste.
Oslo Runway reinforces sustainability claims of participating brands
Less well known to date than the CPHFW but no less exciting: The Oslo Runway, which took place from August 14th to 19th. The Danish and Norwegian fashion event started a partnership in 2022. Their goal: to establish green commitments as a standard across all of their participating brands. This year, the Oslo Runway even introduced the CPHFW's sustainability requirements. All brands must report on their sustainable approach and sign an ethical charter for the fashion industry as well as a diversity and inclusion agreement for models and employees as a prerequisite for their participation.
What does Copenhagen Fashion Week 2023 mean for the future?
The current edition of the CPHFW has proven that sustainability can always be taken to the next level. That ambitious commitment does not stagnate, but grows and can take up more and more areas in fashion. It will be exciting to see how the participating brands will accelerate their sustainable ethos for the coming seasons.
Ganni has also made Copenhagen Fashion Week 2023 an important platform for directly addressing the fashion industry's skepticism about AI. Of course, fears about job takeovers and risks related to artistic freedom associated with artificial intelligence cannot be eliminated by a fashion show. However, the brand has shown that the industry can use technology to create unforgettable experiences. And to immerse people in personalized brand experiences. It can be about storytelling instead of reserved optimization.
Our learning: The relevance of phygital fashion is growing and can become a tool to understand brands on a deep level. At the same time, AI is far from replacing neither good design nor jobs. Rather, it can be integrated into existing processes and enriched in addition. At the same time, however, there will inevitably be challenges that will become more relevant in the coming years.