Sustainability Together: Sustainable Fashion Week at Hachette UK

Sustainable Fashion Week at Hachette UK

There’s no secret anymore that our planet is in a state of emergency, and we are way off track addressing it. The human race has never existed in a world with CO₂ levels this high, and the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions. Producing just one white cotton shirt equates to the same level of emissions as driving 35 miles in a car, and the world is using 400 times more pieces of clothing than it did two decades ago.

In response to this crisis, the Sustainability Network at Hachette UK, a leading book publisher, hosted a series of sustainable fashion events to coincide with London Fashion Week, designed to inspire change, challenge norms, and champion a fashion-forward future that’s green and bright. Speaking out against fast fashion within our organisation has been a journey filled with pride, frustration and hope. Let me share with you some of the aims, considerations and experiences we encountered along the way.

With a background deeply rooted in both sustainability and fashion, having worked for multiple fashion houses and magazines while completing a BA degree in Geography at UCL (before my career in book publishing), I embarked on this journey with a clear vision: to ignite awareness among our colleagues and encourage a more sustainable approach towards fashion. However, I quickly realised that, despite the growing global concern over the climate crisis, engaging people on this topic remained a daunting challenge. 

One of the biggest frustrations I encountered was the reluctance of some to even broach the subject of sustainability. However, creating our Sustainability Network (now with 317 members) has been a huge opportunity to engage those who seem to shy away from discussions, either out of fear or a sense of helplessness regarding the overwhelming nature of the climate crisis. We knew that to effect real change, we had to transform our fears into tangible avenues for action.

Thus, members of the network huddled together, and our Sustainable Fashion Week was born. The week of events kicked off with a thought-provoking author panel, featuring sustainable fashion authors Bay Garnett, Safia Minney, and Skye Pennant. By fostering dialogue on pertinent issues facing the industry and encouraging practical solutions, we hoped to provide a more conscious alternative to the fast-paced, consumer-driven narrative of London Fashion Week.

Skye also led a hands-on mending workshop, equipping employees with the skills to breathe new life into preloved garments through the art of darning. Sustainable sewing kits were distributed across our national offices, empowering individuals to continue their mending journey beyond the workshop. Later in the week, our commitment to conscious consumption took centre stage with a clothes shop event, culminating in a vibrant display on our 6th story. Any remaining garments were lovingly donated to TRAID’s 12 charity shops in London.

By inspiring our colleagues to engage with sustainable fashion, we hope to create a ripple effect that extends far beyond the confines of our office walls. Though it’s true that protecting our planet is a global effort and our personal attempts on a day-to-day basis may seem futile, doing nothing while our planet burns (literally) is too negative to fathom. Powerful players in politics and business will only urgently act to protect the health of our planet if it is economically viable for them to do so. As such, it’s up to us to reflect on our choices, speak out and live as sustainably as we can to put pressure on governments and businesses to initiate drastic, positive change.

While the road ahead may be fraught with challenges, I am filled with hope that together we can create a more sustainable future for generations to come – one where fashion isn’t just about style but also about stewardship. And that is a journey worth embarking on. 

Sustainable Fashion Week at Hachette UK