What is the environmental impact of a fashion show?

26.01.2023Azul Stengel, Co-founder of LienzoPhoto conceptualized with Dall E

Emails, invitations, flights, taxis, cameras, lights, and fashion!

Now that Menswear fashion week has finished and Couture week is the talk of the town, most of the focus is on designers, influencers and photographers. However, should we not bring to the conversation what is the magnitude of the environmental footprint one week of fashion shows has? Is it possible to properly quantify the footprint that is created by a fashion show?

At Lienzo, we believe that this question is pertinent not only at the end of fashion week, but it should also be a guiding principle of event design and should help shape the future of events.

Where to begin? This is a common question across the board. While there are several ways in which to address the question of sustainability, we believe that transparency should be the first step. Knowing what the environmental impact is will allow brands to identify the main pain points and modify their behavior in a way that is less harmful to the environment. Therefore, measuring and assessing the impact would be a great first step, followed by communicating the results.

There are several layers to the impact created by fashion week, carbon emissions being one of the biggest issues. Using a standard methodology of Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, brands can address the problem in a systematic way.

What does each of these scopes represent?

Scope 1 deals with all emissions generated by sources directly controlled by the organization

Scope 2 is the indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity

Scope 3 are all other indirect emissions that occur in the value chain (both upstream and downstream) (1)

How does this relate to the events industry? Great question, let's fill up what each scope deals with pertinent examples that can help us better understand.

Scope 1 includes all emissions created from direct combustion used by the organization such as the emissions created from the petrol used to power the cars the employees used to commute to the office.

Scope 2 should include all of the emissions that are linked to the energy bought in the form of electricity or other to power the operations of the organization. From the energy used to turn on the lights to the heating at the fashion show. As long as it is used by the organizing party, the energy that powered the electricity used during the planning, organization and execution of the event should be taken into consideration.

Scope 3 has both upstream and downstream implications. Upstream emissions include all emissions created from purchased goods and services, transportation, waste generation and even business travel. Scope 3 is extremely important when looking at the carbon footprint of fashion events since a large volume of participants need to be chartered via airplane travel. When looking at the downstream footprint, brands should consider what happens after the event is finished, what happens to the runways, the food and beverage that is consumed at parties and the clothes that are nowadays easily discarded after just one use.

This diagram offers a helpful overview of the GHG protocol scopes and emissions across the value chain:

While there are several other indexes to look at the environmental footprint fashion shows and events leave behind - and important issues that need to be addressed further such as waste management and disposal, pollution, and social impacts - this methodology proves to be quite efficient and is widely used across industries to measure carbon emissions. It would be interesting to look into different ways in which brands can reduce the carbon footprint of their events. We recommend this article: Sustainable Event Planning for useful guidelines on how to create environmentally friendly fashion shows or events.


  1. https://ghgprotocol.org/sites/default/files/standards_supporting/FAQ.pdf

  2. Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard, Supplement to the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard. Greenhouse Gas Protocol. World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development, September 2011