Redesigning the Runway: How Copenhagen Has Become a Sustainability Frontrunner

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Copenhagen is home to some of the most inspired and coveted brands of the moment. Beyond showcasing Scandi clothing aesthetics, Copenhagen Fashion Week (CPHFW) has firmly cemented itself as a sustainability frontrunner. Relative to other fashion weeks, it is renowned for subverting the status quo and acting as a bellwether for the broader industry.

CPHFW fosters creativity and incentivises responsible design by rewarding brands for their commitments to sustainability. Below we explore some of the key ways in which it achieves this.


Sustainability Report

CPHFW is distinguished by its extensive sustainability strategy. Ahead of the AW22 edition, its latest annual Sustainability Report was released. The report outlines progress made in 2021, while reflecting upon the targets set out in the 2020- 2022 Action Plan, and how these have been executed so far. The resounding message of the report is that CPHFW is well on track to deliver on most targets set, and in fact exceeding in many areas – only one target was not met.

In the Report, CPHFW indicated that ‘Hospitality’ remains a challenge. Hospitality-related emissions increased by 7.3 metric tons in 2021. In order to ensure its sustainability efforts are recognised globally, they believe it remains necessary to maintain the number of international guests. To tackle the accompanying emissions from flights, CPHFW will take this challenge into consideration when setting targets for 2023-2025 as they deem previous ambitions in this area have proven “too optimistic”. They incentivise people to travel via train where possible and for AW22 a carbon offsetting fee for brands was introduced. Carbon offsetting will be mandatory for brands showcasing from 2023.


Sustainability Requirements 

Among the most impressive initiatives from CPHFW, is the extensive list of eighteen minimum Sustainability Requirements with which brands must comply from 2023 – the new international partnerships in line with this were announced in the report.

Significantly, the requirements were selected by government-funded programme Fremtidens Tekstiler as the framework to train 50 SMEs in the Danish industry to lead to further action.

The requirements will now be implemented across brands involved at Copenhagen International Fashion Fair (CIFF), Norwegian Fashion Hub, Oslo Runway and the Icelandic Fashion Council. As a result, from 2023, around 1,600 brands will comply with these all-encompassing standards such as utilising upcycled or recycled textiles in all collections, using zero-waste show sets, not destroying unsold garments and using at least 50% organic materials.

Looking ahead, CPHFW aims to introduce new targets and refine its strategy for 2023 – 2025, whilst continuing to pursue new international partnerships. This will ensure that the benefits of such a comprehensive strategy are echoed globally.



Aside from championing circular fashion via the brands showcasing, CPHFW hosted the talk ‘What role can circularity play in solving sustainability challenges.’

Our Impact Programme Manager, Sandra Gonza, moderated the discussion between Emily Chan, Sustainability Editor, Vogue, Lauren Bartley, Head of Responsibility, GANNI and Laura Coppen, Head of Circularity, Zalando.

Gonza opened with the question: “Everybody seems to be talking about the circular economy, but what does it really imply for fashion and how can we actually use it to create meaningful change within the industry?”

The conversation touched on the fact that there is a long way to go in achieving a circular fashion model, the necessity to reflect upon the social aspects of a circular economy and the responsibility brands have, to consider the entire lifecycle of products.

Hear insights from the panellists and watch the discussion here.


Zalando Sustainability Award

The annual Sustainability Award, presented by our Associate Partner, Zalando, provides both encouragement and recognition for brands exploring more sustainable avenues in their work. This year, Tobias Birk Nielsen’s label, Iso.Poetism, was awarded for its collection ‘The Echoes Which We Remain’ which focused on upcycled and recycled fibres and a low water use dyeing technique. The brand will subsequently receive €20,000 and the opportunity to collaborate on an exclusive collection with Zalando – leveraging sustainable materials, production and distribution methods.

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