Exclusive – Welcome to the world’s first-ever digital green carpet

This year, Eco-Age is moving its revolutionary Green Carpet Fashion Awards online, celebrating fashion’s commitment to sustainability with an innovative, solution-based virtual event.

In the past decade, sustainability consultancy firm Eco-Age has connected with fashion’s biggest environmental innovators.

Some of its recent collaborations include Candiani, an Italian production company that supplies sustainable denim for big fashion labels, and Diesel, which earlier this year launched a new upcycling collection that re-purposes old materials from leftover stock.

Eco-Age offers brands expertise in all areas of business, including event-planning, supply chain management, and textile creation, and has helped to bring new-age green ideas to an industry in desperate need of a sustainability shake-up.

Until now, fashion has relied on constantly updating lines, styles, and trends to meet the ever-changing demands of consumers. Its fast-paced nature requires the supply chain to function at a rate that’s devastating our environment and creating up to 10% of the world’s annual CO2 output.

Given the industry’s focus on delivering a different range of products every single season, it’s unsurprising that brands have been reluctant to meet the increasing demand for greener practices. Environmentally conscious production is time consuming and expensive compared to traditional, more wasteful methods, and requires companies to rework their internal systems from the ground up.

The pandemic and subsequent closing of nearly all retail stores has provided consumers with an abrupt but necessary opportunity to reflect, however, and re-consider if they really want to engage in seasonal trends that move at break-neck speeds. A push for more socially responsible and eco-friendly practices has emerged in 2020 and big bosses from retail stores like H&M have promised that ‘post-pandemic fashion will be sustainable and affordable’. The appetite is growing, and the coronavirus crisis has only sped things up.

Buying in cyberspace amid the Covid-19 pandemic

In fact, if history is anything to go by, crises are often the breeding grounds for renewal. Experts and industry specialists have hinted that this sudden halt of consumerism could be the industry’s saving grace and an urgent opportunity to re-invent. Eco-Age is one such specialist.

Founded in 2009 by Livia Firth, the sustainability consultancy is acknowledging this new, unique opportunity and aims to prove that ‘beyond any reasonable doubt ethics and aesthetics are a match made in heaven’. It’s using the 2020 edition of its famous Green Carpet Fashion Awards to further spread the message that fashion has no choice but to embrace sustainability – and embrace it now.

Dubbed the ‘Oscars of Fashion,’ the awards were launched three years ago in partnership with Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI) to celebrate the work being done to reduce the industry’s environmental impact across the globe. Celebrities annually grace the green carpet to share an exclusive look into their wardrobes, showcasing treasured pieces alongside a call to action that encourages the world to become active citizens in sustainable fashion.

The awards are designed to highlight the ‘commitment of fashion houses to sustainability, as they work to embrace rapid change, while preserving the heritage and authenticity of small-scale producers’. The Green Carpet Fashion Awards are becoming an important part of the fashion calendar, and will be going ahead entirely digitally this year as lockdown and social distance measures remain in place across Europe.

Speaking with the company’s communications manager, Rebecca Hesketh, I learned that Eco-Age has fittingly placed the theme of togetherness and rebirth front and centre for this year’s edition, aiming to encourage new collaborative initiatives under the principles of social and environmental justice.

‘We’re taking this time to properly hit the reset button,’ she says. ‘By hosting a digital event we are able to reach a much wider audience and spread the message that as harmful and detrimental to people’s lives as Covid-19 has been, we’re now able to rethink where we are, learn some valuable lessons and implement some genuine change.’

With the ‘big voices in the industry’, as Hesketh puts it, being the key to communicating this message, it’s essential to have Eco-Age’s partner brands on board because ‘they’re the ones with the most influence.’

Eco-Age works solely with brands who encourage a regenerative cycle of second-hand fashion as well as selling one-of-a-kind pieces – those respected on platforms like Instagram for being vocal about their stance on sustainability.

Of the designers involved in the event, there are several who particularly stand out for their work with sustainability. To name a few, Prada has launched a ready-to-wear collection made entirely from regenerated nylon, Tommy Hilfiger recently announced an inspiring sustainability strategy titled Make It Possible, and Reformation has dedicated an entire advisory board to accomplishing a series of holistic commitments.

These brands are shifting the axis on which the entire industry operates, proving once and for all that it is indeed possible to create memorable looks that don’t cost the earth.

Directed by Grammy-nominated Giorgio Testi and produced by Pulse Films, the show will fuse augmented reality and holograms created using real-time game engines with cinematic footage to re-invent the traditional red carpet.

‘As the first event of its kind, we truly believe this will transform the way fashion approaches these things in the future,’ explains Hesketh. ‘Together we must exploit this moment to shape a future for our industry that puts the planet and people at the centre of its business.’

In terms of waste-reduction, digital events like this are hugely beneficial because they eliminate the requirement for mass-production of clothing. Not only will the GCFA accomplish this, but it will provide viewers with a global perspective of the work being done by manufacturers, designers, and individuals to create and promote sustainability in fashion.

Green Carpet Challenge, BAFTA, Livia Firth

‘Moving the event online means that we can give everyone an equal voice and open up the exclusivity of fashion to the masses,’ says Hesketh. ‘This is so important to us because we strive to make it easier and more accessible for brands to connect with their consumers, especially on the theme of sustainability. The thought that it’s not actually that much harder to make the switch to using sustainable materials in a collection is a key mindset we’re trying to drive everyone towards.’

Organising a digital event amidst such a difficult time is born out of Ego-Age and CNMI’s desire to continue participating with a tone of voice that encourages solidarity and hope.

The NPO’s chairman stresses the importance of regaining the spirit needed to generate a ‘concrete response’ and ‘incredible dreams’ at a time of high vulnerability, an inspiring approach that Firth also touches upon: ‘Arundhati Roy referred to this period as a ‘portal’ – a gateway between one world and the next,’ she says.

‘We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our old modus operandi. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. This is the strong message that will emerge from this year’s GCFA. We have been the first to celebrate sustainability and fashion and to shine a light on the disruptors and game changers in our industry. This year we wanted to do the same even in the way the event itself is produced and delivered.’

The Green Carpet Fashion Awards 2020 will be broadcast worldwide this Saturday the 10th of October on Sky, which has committed to become net zero carbon by 2030. Make sure not to miss this amazing chance to be part of a fashion revolution that’s building new communities and helping companies genuinely protect nature’s resources for years to come.

For more information, visit the official Green Carpet Fashion Awards website here.

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