Pollution redefines fashion

Fashion can create pollution. But can pollution create fashion?

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When models at Beijing’s fashion week hit the runway in anti-smog face masks we could not ignore the effects of pollution on fashion.

Normally when we talk about fashion’s polluting effects it can be too easy to ignore. But this time, pollution stole the show.

As models paraded down the catwalk in their iconic fluorescent white anti-smog masks, it hit me, just how pollution could redefine fashion.


Fashion has always been capable of addressing changing needs fast, the show in Beijing demonstrating how designers now need to think about how Chinese customers can dress fashionably whilst protecting from the effects of pollution.

The show was reported to be hugely popular with the Chinese market, an important customer the big international fashion houses are desperate to impress. Anyone who has visited capitals like Beijing or Shanghai will notice the tribes of iconic white face masks, maybe soon these face masks will be in a Burberry check.

Fashion has also always been a reflection of our times. The Beijing show highlights the harsh reality of how pollution is inhibiting our lives in a way we cannot ignore. The masks on the runway defined the show and inspired the rest of the look. Here pollution has created fashion.

Will pollution continue to define fashion?

In another respect, pollution as an after-effect of fashion defines an increasing amount of press surrounding fashion. For example, look at Charlie Brooker today in the Guardian here. If press like this continues, could negative externalities like pollution redefine fashion in the mind of the consumer?

Photo and inspiration courtesy of Progress.org here.


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