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Barbara Santamaria
Mar 10, 2020
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ModaLisboa raises awareness of sustainability, sets sights on Europe

Translated by
Barbara Santamaria
Mar 10, 2020

Amid cancellations of fashion events due to the coronavirus outbreak, ModaLisboa returned for another season last week. Now in its 54th edition, the event was held at Oficinas Gerais de Fardamento e Equipamento on 5-8 March, celebrating local fashion with a total of 20 runway shows. This season saw the debut of United Fashion, which supports emerging designers, as Lisbon Fashion Week continues its push towards strengthening its position on the global stage.

Portuguese brand Béhen presented its latest collection as part of United Fashion - Béhen / Frederico_om

“The fashion system is continuously changing and we know that, as a fashion week, we need to change with it. We need to do more than just showcasing next season’s collections. For events of this size, it is now mandatory to embrace a culture of cultural, social and educational responsibility,” said Eduarda Abbondanza, president of ModaLisboa. “We have striven to build an inclusive and responsible event that matches the rhythm of our city.” As a result, ModaLisboa has aligned itself with various sustainable initiatives taking place across the city. “The future is in our hands and every day begins with a search for answers to the question: how can the fashion industry slow down without impacting growth?

With the aim of driving change, on 5 March, ModaLisboa hosted Fast Talks, a conversation about reinventing the fashion system and integrating sustainability in every step of the process. Moderated by Patricia Bernabe, the ‘Wake Up’ panel talk took place in the city hall, with Positive Luxury founder Diana Verde Nieto, German fashion expert Lisa Lang and Zazi designer Jeanne de Kroon among the speakers. While Diana Verde Nieto spoke about the luxury industry’s role as a force for change, Lisa Lang said technology will be key to drive a responsible future. “Designers need to learn and master different kinds of technologies to be able to introduce new models,” said the founder of innovation agency ThePowerHouse, while Jeanne de Kroon, a EU ambassador for sustainable fashion, asserted that sustainability is a label that sells. “We shouldn't talk so much about whether something is sustainable; we should focus on whether it was produced ethically,” she said, adding that “every piece in our closet has a story. Narrative is more important than fashion.”

A European future

On the same evening, Lisbon held the United Fashion event, a platform co-founded by the European Union’s Creative Europe programme. Dedicated to supporting and nurturing emerging design in Europe, the project is in partnership with 16 institutions such as ACME, Fédération Française du Prêt-à-Porter Féminin, the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography and the Centre for Fashion Enterprise in the UK. The four-year programme is coming to an end in the summer of 2021, after giving more than 150 participating fashion businesses the opportunity to have a presence at various industry events, such as 48h Maisons de Mode -- Lille, Berlin Fashion Week, Fashion Weekend Skopje, Riga Fashion Week and Fashion Talks Antwerp.

Looks from Carolina Machado, Constança Entrudo and Gonçalo Peixoto at ModaLisboa - ModaLisboa

In Lisbon, United Fashion hosted a fashion exhibition featuring 15 designers, as well as a pop-up showroom at Campo de Santa Clara, where a number of collections were presented to the press and international buyers from the likes of Printemps, Paris-based Tom Greyhound and London’s Machine-A. “Consumers are increasingly looking for more exclusive and unique pieces, and we can only find these items in independent brands,” said a group of British buyers.

The event was attended by brands and designers from Germany, including Schmidt Takahashi and Dawid Tomaszewski; Belgian names such as Lina Maria, Sarah Saint Hubert, Snobe and Toos Franken; Latvians like Talented Company and One Wolf; France’s Voir (e);  Sweden’s Sofija Utumovic; and Archie Dickens, Opiar and Béhen from Portugal. The latter was a standout at United Fashion, thanks to its experimental looks made from recycled fabrics, fruits and vegetables. “We believe that the growth of the independent fashion industry in Europe is only possible with a united action plan. Tomorrow will be for those who build their identity without ever losing the courage to innovate,” said Eduarda Abbondanza.

Young designers, sustainable collections

The schedule of runway shows started with a presentation from Sangue Novo. Inês Manuel Baptista was honoured with the Polimoda award to take part in an MA in fashion design at Polimoda, Francisco Pereira received the Tintex award and Cêlá took home the Fleeting Room award. Pereira will create a capsule collection in collaboration with Tintex Textiles and Cêlá will have the opportunity to sell the winning collection at the retailer’s store. Meanwhile, designer Carolina Machado presented Grounded, a timeless collection that encapsulates our connection with the earth, where pastel shades gave form to crop tops and oversized silhouettes.

Luis Buchinho and Luis Carvalho at ModaLisboa - ModaLisboa

It was not the only outstanding collection. Constança Entrudo continued to explore the concept of identity in neon tones, while Gonçalo Peixoto took a more commercial approach with an Instagram-friendly collection filled with mini dresses, ruffles and metallic blazers. Awaytomars drew inspiration from black holes for its latest range. In terms of established designers, Luis Carvalho was inspired by artists in a collection of structured crepe numbers and layers of tulle. And Luís Buchinho, supported by Portugal Fashion, celebrated the 30th anniversary of his brand with a line of faux leather pieces.

Finally, Dutch brand Ninamounah helped elevate the event’s international credentials on the last day of ModaLisboa. The brand, a staple at Amsterdam Fashion Week, was founded by Ninamounah Langestraat, who presented a series of tailored pieces made locally and sustainably. It was the perfect way to epitomise ModaLisboa’s message of sustainability and international collaboration.

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