Can fashion keep its cool … and help save the planet?

The catwalk world of glamour and luxury hides a business that thrives on wasteful consumerism. Now the climate crisis is forcing a rethink

In the last days of August, an influx of slender women to midtown Manhattan signals the onset of fashion week, the biannual round of catwalk shows. After passing on to London, Milan and then Paris, the prevailing sensibility coheres into an agreed style.

Only this season, the last of the decade, that sensibility may be about to evaporate. A summer of fire in the high Arctic and the Amazon was capped by something to celebrate; the arrival in New York harbour of the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg after she crossed the Atlantic on an emissions-free yacht.

Fashion is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions and consumes more energy than airline and shipping combined

Recently the UK protest group Extinction Rebellion announced plans to shut down London fashion week

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