It may last just five days, but official stats show that LFW gulps down 30,000 Lavazza espressos and 20,000 bottles of Evian as it rushes 32,000 miles between shows in chauffeured Mercedes Benz cars. Fashion Week is a fast-paced shiny showpiece where the temptation is never greater to do more, see more, spend more. And yet lately London has seen a surge in the sustainability stakes. There are government initiatives; more hybrid and electric buses, a levy on plastic bags, investment in cycle lanes. There’s the Evening Standard’s Last Straw campaign putting pressure on the capital’s restaurants and bars to ban plastic straws. And Londoners’ themselves are getting in on the act – notice the sudden vogue for taking a Keepcup to Pret? In this Antibad City Guide, Daisy Allsup shares ways to enjoy a more sustainable Fashion Week:
Cycle: Santander Cycles cost just £2 for 24 hours of unlimited 30-minute journeys.
On Foot: Plug into a Business of Fashion podcast and brush up as you walk. Or tune in to Burberry’s 17 Years of Soundtracks, Christopher Bailey’s Apple Music playlist that features more than 200 songs, including those used for their runway shows (Adele, Pet Shop Boys, Elton John, The Cure) and Burberry Live events (Benjamin Clementine, George Ezra, Jake Bugg, Tom Odell).
Things to Do
Spring time in London demands a trip to Columbia Road Flower Market, open Sunday’s 8am–3pm. Bustling crowds only add to the jubilant offering of flowers, plants, trees, herbs and bulbs. Unusually for London, the entire street is made up of independent shops - over sixty of them – from art galleries to delis to vintage clothes stores. Stop at proper East End boozer, the Nelson’s Head for a pint on your way home.
Celebrate sustainable fashion at The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, a major showcase of artisan talent and ethical production brought about by Eco-Age with the support of the British Fashion Council. With Burberry and Stella McCartney representing the UK, the looks will be shown at Buckingham Palace on 19 Feb before opening to the public at Australia House on the Strand from 21 Feb.
Visit the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey and explore arguably the most popular and affordable item of clothing on the planet, the humble T-Shirt, at the Cult-Culture-Subversion exhibition on until 6 May. Afterwards, dip beneath the railway arches to Maltby Street Market, where artisan street food stalls and quirky bars pack out the Ropewalk every weekend. Browse for antique homewares at LASSCO (the London Architectural Salvage and Supply Co) who have an outpost here with a timber yard, workshop and salvage depot as well as a restaurant and bar.
Drop in to the Garden Museum and for a small exhibition of beautiful Botanical Portraits by Kate Friend, on until 18 March.
For a healthy yet hearty breakfast head to 26 Grains in Neal’s Yard, where their bowls of hand-rolled oats come topped with nut butters, rhubarb compote and cacao nibs.
Brunch is served at the Clerkenwell Kitchen where the short and simple menu emphasises quality with organic produce coming only from small scale producers.
At lunchtime, opt for Feng Sushi above Itsu or Yo! As well as sustainable fish sourcing, their sushi comes in biodegradable packaging with bamboo chopsticks.
Tea time calls for a proper cuppa, and where better than Good + Proper Tea on Leather Lane which specialises in loose-leaf brewing. Their square sourdough crumpets are a must.
Pre-theatre, make a beeline for fashion favourite, Spring. The Scratch menu, available every day from 5.30–6.30pm offers 3 courses for £20 entirely made up of ‘waste’ produce that would otherwise be overlooked. Think beetroot tops blitzed into simple soups, yesterday’s bread turned into warm bread pudding with a spoonful of last year’s gooseberry jam. Scratch is just part of the Spring’s environmental effort; Skye Gyngell plans to make the entire restaurant plastic free by 2019.
For dinner, try St John the original pioneers in nose-to-tail eating right next to Smithfield Market. South of the river, Plot is pulling crowds to Tooting with its changing seasonal menu of British small plates.
If you’re staying with someone overnight and need a gift, stop in at Sally Clarke’s shop on Camden Street and pick up a bag of her legendary chocolate truffles, jars of homemade jam, crunchy granola and other delectable treats. For over 30 years Sally has been championing British produce at her Kensington restaurant where the set menu is strictly seasonal and created according to what’s available each week.
Find the fashion crowd at newly-reopened Kettner’s Townhouse in Soho, where the 33 bedrooms have been refurbished with scallop green velvet headboards, Egyptian cotton sheets, Georgian timber floorboards and 1920’s art nouveau chandeliers. Push the boat out and book the Jacobean Suite that has its own private entrance and features a freestanding copper bath.
Surprisingly eco-conscious, the Zetter Hotel is just one of a handful of hotels in London to hold a Gold Award for Green Tourism. The hotel’s own 1500-foot bore-hole beneath the building provides the water for the bathrooms and cooling systems, as well as for the spring water served in the bar. Guests can borrow Brompton bicycles free of charge for whizzing about town.
Kit Kemp has earned Firmdale Hotels (Ham Yard, Charlotte Street Hotel etc) a reputation for interior design but they deserve recognition for their excellent sustainability credentials too. Check in to Number Sixteen, their South Ken townhouse with its leafy garden and Orangery where you can relax over the papers with breakfast.
Creatives on a budget should check out Green Rooms, where preferential rates are given to those working in the arts’ with an en suite room from just £89.
With locations across London from Ealing to Shoreditch, Triyoga offers mindfulness and meditation sessions as well as yoga, pilates, barre and more. Holistic treatments are available at many of their studios from reflexology to acupuncture and homeopathy. For facials, manicures and pedicures, Cowshed is hard to beat. Their signature products use natural botanicals from sustainable resources.
Gardens & Walks
London’s oldest botanic garden, Chelsea Physic Garden is an oasis of calm in the centre of town. Check out their events program or while away a few hours amongst the plants. Escape the big smoke with a walk in Richmond Park and stop for a cuppa and a slice of cake at the original Petersham Nurseries.
By Daisy Allsup for Antibad