Published yesterday, the January edition of Vogue Italia does not feature any photoshoots – a first in the fashion magazine’s history. The move is intended to highlight the environmental impact of fashion photoshoots. Instead, Vogue Italia commissioned eight illustrated covers by artists who produced their work without travelling or shipping clothes. The money saved in the production of the issue will go towards financing the restoration of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia historic house, severely damaged by recent floods.

It’s easy to be cynical about one-off, eye-catching sustainability plays. But there are underlying lessons here for every brand:

GREEN PRESSURE. The world has turned upside down. An airline company is discouraging air travel, a major band says it won’t go on tour, and now the most influential voice in fashion has ditched photoshoots. What’s driving it all? Yep, this shift is so crucial we’re going to keep hammering it: in 2020, attitudes towards sustainable consumption finally reach a crucial tipping point away from aspirational, and towards necessary. Less a cause for kudos when noticed; more a matter of shame when absent. So, if leading brands are already setting this tone, what can you do to help your consumers avoid eco-shame in 2020?

MOMENTS OF TRUTH. In his editor’s letter, Vogue Italia editor Emanuele Farneti revealed the resources used for the September 2019 issue’s photoshoots, the biggest of the year: 150 people, about 20 flights and a dozen or so train journeys, 40 cars on standby, 60 international deliveries, lights switched on for at least 10 hours non stop, partly powered by gasoline-fuelled generators, food waste from the catering services, plastic to wrap the garments, and electricity to recharge phones and cameras. The January 2020 edition sees Vogue acknowledge this skeleton in their closet; much as National Geographic did in ‘The Race Issue’ back in 2018. These bracing moments of honesty can make serve as a powerful way to realign a brand, and win back the trust of consumers. Stepping into 2020, what moves will you make to address your ‘skeletons’ and achieve greater transparency?

 

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