Catwalk protest highlights impact of ‘fast fashion’ on environment

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A colourful catwalk show blocked roads in central London as part of a protest highlighting the impact the fashion industry has on climate change.

The Fashion: Circus Of Excess event, organised by activist group Extinction Rebellion, took over the busy junction at Oxford Circus during evening rush hour on Friday.

Traffic was stopped for around an hour while models paraded across a neon pink carpet rolled out across the road.

The protest was part of Extinction Rebellion’s efforts to use “non-violent civil disobedience” to encourage action to tackle climate change.

Models strutted across the x-shaped catwalk in a range of distinctive outfits, cheered on by supporters holding large pink flags bearing the Extinction Rebellion Logo.

Plastic, tartan, denim, feathers and flowers all featured in the designs, with models carrying pink carrier bags, and many sporting pink face masks or face paint.

Some of the outfits had anti-fracking, climate change and “fast fashion” slogans written across them.

One of the models on the catwalk in Oxford Circus (Yui Mok/PA)

Protesters read out poems and sang through megaphones from the centre of the catwalk, while a band played by one of the entrances to Oxford Circus Tube station.

Earlier on Friday, a separate Youth Strike 4 Climate protest saw students also take to the capital’s streets to demand action on climate change.

Dr Eleanor Roberts, from London, who appeared on the catwalk, said their protest aimed to show people they can choose not to consume “disposable fashion”.

The 49-year-old scientist said: “It’s something that people can make a difference, they just don’t buy that new top, they rip up their old ones and sew them together in a different way.

“It’s such an easy, small way but millions of people can make a difference. Look at what happened with plastic straws.”

Models carried banners calling for change (Yui Mok/PA)

She added: “It’s just trying to bring awareness to very specific actions that people can take. I feel a lot of people feel very powerless when it comes to climate change.”

Florent Bidois, 32, originally from France, accused the fashion industry of creating waste and pollution.

The upcycling designer said: “People don’t seem to know about it, how terrible people are with consumerism and fast fashion, disposable clothing, things that don’t last.”

He said the quality of clothing on sale in the past 10 years had “become degraded”, adding: “It’s almost like it’s intentionally made so it doesn’t last”.

Mr Bidois said the “empowering” event showed fashion could be “fun” but people should be careful in their choices.

Pink flags flew over the crowd (Yui Mok/PA)

Father-of-three Tom Hardy, 65, from north London, said he came to support the protest because of his concerns for his children’s future.

“The only way to make government or business listen is to actually close things down because we’ve had 10 years of no action,” he said.

The retired teacher added: “The fashion industry lives on making people think that they need to buy something new all the time. Our point is that is just not sustainable.”

The fashion-focused protest continues a series of disruptive events organised by the Extinction Rebellion group in recent months.

In February, climate demonstrators blocked roads outside London Fashion Week to protest against the “unsustainable” industry.

Earlier this month, thirteen men and women were arrested after activists staged a semi-naked protest in the House of Commons while MPs debated Brexit.

From Monday, multiple days of protest action are also planned for central London and other cities across the world.

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