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Kornit Fashion Week London 2022: Inclusivity on the runway and in practice?

 by Emily Duff

During the start of May 2022, I attended Kornit Fashion Week in London. Having toured around the world and with plans to move to Paris next, Kornit digital is working to spread the news about sustainability and what happens when Tech meets Fashion. 

Founded in 2002, Kornit Digital are a “worldwide market leader in sustainable, on-demand digital fashion and textile production” who challenge the need for overproduction of garments. With almost 900 employees and over 1,300 customers, Kornit have used their experience to develop a ‘Direct-to-Garment’ (DTG) technology. This allows jobs to be secure and reduces waste of both time and materials by using automated technologies that create the clothing as-and-when they are needed at the same speed as eCommerce production. 

By Emily Duff

Through this, Kornit technology will enable production of approximately 2.5 billion apparel items which will save 4.3 trillion liters of water and 17.2 billion kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions – reducing overproduction by 1.1 billion apparel items. This will all have taken effect by 2026, a date not too far in the future. Unlike many arguable greenwashing campaigns made from fast fashion companies who give great ideas with little effort, Kornit appear genuinely on a mission to do what they can with the resources they have. 

With reports from McKinsey et al suggesting that investments in technology should be expected to double by 2030, maybe this is a wise choice both for the environment and the economy too. 

Image by Emily Duff

Claiming to be on a “journey to make digitized, sustainable, on-demand fashion without limitations an accessible reality for creators and brands worldwide”, I thought it necessary to evaluate just how accessible the week and the propositions brought forward are. 

Amid this event, I was lucky enough to see runway looks from Alon Livne’s SS22 collection as well as Just HYPE’s catwalk debut. During both of these shows, I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity within their model selections for presenting each curated brand and look. 

Image by Emily Duff

Livné started his career aged 13 by cutting and sewing the materials of his mother and grandmother's old tablecloths before moving on to studying the craft in more detail. Having focused on art and sculpting at various design-oriented high schools, he then went on to the world-renowned ‘Shenkar College of Engineering, Design, and Art’ to study Fashion Design at the age of 17, having already mastered the art of sewing and patternmaking as a young boy.

The knowledge of sculpture is clear in his fashion, with dramatic sculptural shapes being used in his garment that give the body new proportions and shapes. These patterns allow the looks to flatter a range of bodies, with styles flattering those both tall and short, skinny and plus sized. Having designed for fashion icons such as Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Megan Fox and Naomi Campbell, it could be easy for Livné to stick to those typical slimmer bodies so I was happy to see models who looked like people you’d see in real real during the show. 

Image by Emily Duff

The next show of the day came from a brand created in 2011, HYPE. Beginning as a self-funded project, designing printed clothing and accessories and with the use of social networking, Just HYPE quickly developed into one of the UK’s most recognizable brands.

As a streetwear brand, it was not surprising to see the ethnic diversity on the runway for Just HYPE - what surprised me most was the vast age ranges. With a collection sported by those both young and old, Just Hype served to prove that their clothes are for all. 

Image by Motty Reif

In fact, earlier that day, an amazing 90-year-old model walked for New Dheli-based designer, Manish Arora - who was appointed Creative Director of Paco Rabanna, a French fashion house, in early 2011. The week also ended with an older model being seen in the creative concept executed by Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, a brand co-created in 1996 by Julia Thornton and Thea Bregazzi.

Image by Motty Reif

While the age and ethnicity diversity was incomparable to any other show I’ve seen, the weight diversity was less than desired. With one of two plus-sized models being thrown in to seemingly hit their diversity quota rather than due to a genuine desire to be inclusive to real-life bodies. This is something so disappointing to me as someone who struggles with weight fluxing - although most likely unintentional and rather just force of habit, it can be damaging to feel that the only bodies worthy of being seen on a runway are those at an unhealthily tiny weight. The number of models seen with their ribs sticking out of their flesh couldn’t be counted on one hand while the models who looked like the majority of the population stood out like a sore thumb.

While I’m glad to have seen any plus sized models, I hope this is just the beginning of an increased weight diversity on the runway and just baby steps to find models that look like the everyday person.

Image by Emily Duff

Off the back of these incredible runway debuts, Kornit Digital were able to spread the news of their DTG plans to create a new online fashion store to combat the environmental impact of the fashion industry and make a difference in the global warming issues we are suffering today. However, how inclusive is this idea?

Kornit have theorised a digital store in which you order the item to be created especially for your order. This reduces the need for fast fashion as we will no longer be creating items in bulk to be moved to a landfill in however many years, months or weeks.

Sounds fantastic! An idealistic world where clothing is only made on-demand rather than created based on demand predictions. However, is this a classist solution? If we are making clothes one at a time, per demand, how much does this increase the cost? This may be something to be considered by the Tech-focused brand. However, the beginning of any ideas are never going to be perfect and the likelihood of innovation being able to please all is an impossible task. So, is the ability to begin the change towards sustainable fashion more important than it’s accessibility for the working and working class? Or as only the minority of our population is made up by the upper class, does this actually make the idea less likely to take off, especially as data shows its the lower classes that are more determined to do what they can to change the environmental landscape. 

Image by Emily Duff

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