Mar 01, 2023
by Sofia de la Cruz
In Copenhagen’s FW23 Fashion Week, Sustainability Walked the Runway
by Sofia de la Cruz
Mar 01, 2023

Recontextualized and reinterpreted over time, the way we define sustainable fashion has come a long way in not such a long time, an apparent contradiction always at its core: the word “Fashion,” presuming an ebb and flow of what’s in style, contrasting with the more linear, long-term focus of sustainability.

With that in mind, one can’t help but wonder, what exactly is the role of fashion brands in society today amidst the ongoing climate crisis? Are these two seemingly opposed ideas any closer now than before?

Let’s start by dispelling a myth: the fashion industry is more than just clothes, and sustainable fashion is about more than just about the production and sale of the garments. Take Fashion week’s excessive carbon footprint, for example – briefly down during the pandemic, but in full swing once again now.

Fourteen different fashion weeks took place across the world in 2022, each comprising numerous physical shows and presentations, each with its own audience, and each originating an excessive amount of waste and carbon emissions. Despite these clear top-line arguments, however, workable solutions come up a lot less often than headlines either defending the practice or offering less than constructive criticism.

According to a report by Ordre, fashion buyers and designers (alone) contribute 241,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year by attending fashion weeks in New York, London, Paris, and Milan.

Surely numbers like this highlight the imperative need to shift the conceptual principles of fashion month.

Back in 2019, Copenhagen Fashion Week – more or less a lone bastion of climate common sense – opted to acknowledge this truth. Not with empty criticism, but by introducing a Sustainability Action Plan aimed at incurring long-term change within the fashion industry in two years. They also presented a minimum set of standards that all show-scheduled brands had to conform to if they wanted to take part in the Fall/Winter 2023 showcase.

To this day, CPHFW remains the first and only fashion week to implement this level of sustainability criteria; a rigorous set of parameters that saw each label on the schedule approved by a specialized committee, ensuring brands comply with requirements on strategic direction, design, smart material choices, working conditions, consumer engagement, and show production.

Like CPHF’s own rules to hold itself accountable, these conditions may seem strict – even prohibitive. But, above all, they are necessary. What’s more, hitting 35 of 37 targets back in 2022 – and with an impressive list of progressive designers on the schedule – it has proved to be possible,

Here, with that in mind, we round up five key sustainability lessons we learned from Copenhagen that can help advance the fashion industry to a brighter, cleaner, and ultimately kinder future.


Danish luxury brand GANNI announced their fourth collaboration with Icelandic heritage imprint 66°NORTH to unveil a range of high-performance technical outerwear. The collaboration, which conveys the strong synergy between the two brands, who first started cooperating in 2019, consisted of a 14-piece range that was first revealed during Copenhagen’s FW23 Fashion Week.

In this collection, practicality meets playfulness — pieces are designed for versatile lives on the go and endurance in harsh weather conditions. Standouts include styles made from lightweight, breathable and waterproof GORE-TEX Windstopper recycled fabric with a solution-dyed backer to lower the environmental impact, which is both Bluesign and Oeko-Tex certified.

Furthermore, the fleece base layer styles were built using Seaqual, a 95 percent recycled polyester made from plastic litter from the ocean. Overall, it is easy to notice that the partnership took on a retrospective feel as GANNI’s design team returned to the first GANNI x 66°NORTH collaboration for inspiration while also pulling out some of the most-loved silhouettes and details from its archives.



It is fair to say Copenhagen-based label (di)vision caused quite the spectacle with its “Dressed for Disaster” collection.

Taking cues from end-nineties disaster culture and infused with contrasting kawaii Y2K culture, the maximalist line-up was fun, irreverent and unexpected. Showcased at the ballrooms of the majestic Josty, located in Frederiksberg’s garden in Copenhagen and complete with a live jazz quartet, little could the guests have known the collections finale would entail a unique piece made from a wine-stained tablecloth.

Yet, thankfully, fashion still has surprises for us, and that’s exactly what (di)vision stands for: giving life to the discarded turned grotesque. Since its inception in 2018, the label has become known for its exclusive use of deadstock fabrics along with recycled cotton, natural wools and up-cycled vintage products – which is why most of the FW23 collection was built from pre-existing materials. Moreover, building from their love toward the “creating from what already is” and DIY aesthetic, (di)vision teamed up with Asics to create 25 unique pairs of sneakers, with all profits going to charity.

As a conscious label, (di)vision also offers repair services free of charge for all customers. Previous milestones include the introduction of a scalable cut-and-sew production using vintage t-shirts for their Fall/Winter 2022 collection and the creation of a denim product line from upcycled leg tubes surplus for Spring/Summer 2023.


A. Roege Hove

Conceptual knitwear label A. Roege Hove geared up towards the start of the season by being a Woolmark Prize finalist – a competition celebrating outstanding fashion talents that showcase the beauty and versatility of 100% natural, renewable and biodegradable material Merino Wool. For the FW23 collection, A. Roege Hove’s focus wasn’t on the body but on the infinite possibilities knitwear can offer.

The line-up included beautiful and timeless off-kilter jumpers, slashed miniskirts and chequered jackets. All pieces were carefully produced in their cooperative knit factories in Umbria, Italy and Ireland, under fair working conditions as well as knitted directly into the model’s shape, which created very little waste — this “no waste” production model entails having a +/- 10 percent tolerance in terms of delivered quantities.

Yet, it wasn’t solely the garments the label put its full attention toward when thinking about sustainability. In fact, A. Roege Hove took its zero waste commitment to the show location, The Danish Royal Playhouse, which was ensured to be solar-powered. Overall, the brand’s rich heritage of Danish design and craftsmanship, along with its ability to minimal, conscious and technical making has granted the label quite the media awareness and following.


Henrik Vibskov

Multidisciplinary brand Henrik Vibskov didn’t shy away from working beyond the ordinary, creating enticing universes through advanced and hybrid silhouettes for the FW23 season. Despite the many show-stopping moments Copenhagen Fashion Week witnessed, it would be a fair guess to say many (if not most) would point to Vibskov’s mechanical tomato tree universe as a standout.

But it wasn’t so much how the designer pulled inspiration from Spanish fruit fights, but how it was, in essence, an homage to agriculture that made this show so special. It was also the fact 72 percent of all garments used recycled polyester along with outerwear made from recycled PET bottles — a process that saves water, energy and virgin raw materials. Moreover, TENCEL™ fabric was made from cellulose fibers, and non-toxic dyes and prints.

But knowing Vibskov’s intention is to always implement solutions with environmental awareness, it was no surprise the line-up exclusively featured natural fabrics, all produced in Europe and Denmark. The Danish label has a large section on its website devoted to being transparent about its sustainability practices.



STAMM, which translates to “Scandinavian Globetrotting,” was awarded the Zalando Sustainability Award in partnership with Copenhagen Fashion Week for the FW23 season. The label, known for offering a conscious and balanced mindset, delivered unique designs made for longevity and with consciously sourced materials. The jury was particularly impressed with the imprint’s use of RDS-certified goose down in puffer jackets – although we still have to point out that down is down; it isn’t plant-based and it still has problems – and Indian Khadi, organic handspun cotton, as well as its commitment to transparency and traceability.

On the meaning of receiving the award, Elisabet Stamm (Creative Director) commented: “This achievement is a celebration of a young brand driven by innovation, diversity and aesthetic expression with a conscious mindset. Winning this award will let us expand our network and keep working towards bringing positive change. I also hope to be able to inspire others to create with purpose and believe in exchange across borders.”

Overall, the FW23 runway show, in which vintage-inspired attires stole the spotlight, was inspired by natural human connections. STAMM’s endless dedication to exploring materials composition and transformative silhouettes was extremely present across the line-up, along with its dedication to restoring the use of handcrafted materials.

And, elsewhere in other sustainable Fashion Week news: Oxfam turned heads at London Fashion Week with its second-hand runway show.