Vogue Italia Ditches Photoshoots For Jan Issue In Sustainability Cri-de-Coeur

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Making a statement about sustainability, Vogue Italia, the Italian edition of the globally iconic fashion magazine, has ditched photoshoots in their January issue. In place of glossy images are 8 illustrated covers, which are intended to highlight the environmental impact of photoshoots, from emissions from the flights involved to the energy-use of lighting and food waste from catering services. This reflects the fashion industry’s quickly shifting attention towards the impact of the entire fashion ecosystem, which is contributing to our degrading planet.

Gone are the glossy images that usually fill the pages of Vogue Italia. The Italian edition of Vogue will not be featuring any photoshoots in its January 2020 magazine issue, as part of their efforts to emphasise the environmental cost of photoshoots in print magazines. In replacement are 8 illustrated covers, which will hit newsstands officially on the 7th of January, each featuring the work of various artists depicting real-life models wearing pieces from Gucci. Under each drawing is the tagline: “No photoshoot production was required for the making of this issue.”

“150 people involved. 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. Electricity to recharge phones [and] cameras,” wrote Emanuele Farneti in his editor’s letter that outlined the resource-intensivity and wastefulness of photoshoots.

While some critics have been quick to point out that the magazine will only be eschewing photoshoots for this one issue of the year, the Italian Vogue has ramped up some of its other sustainability-related commitments. For instance, the magazine has pledged to become one of the first publications under global media umbrella Condé Nast to use 100% compostable wrapping from this year onwards

The move follows Vogue International’s global mission statement released last December, penned by the 26 editors of the global magazine’s regional editions. The statement pledged to celebrate diversity and community and to “preserve the planet for future generations.” It also comes as the influential international fashion magazine put up a vacancy for a new freelance role for a Global Sustainability Director to promote green initiatives across the fashion industry and “accelerate much needed change” amid our climate crisis.

What this shows is that sustainable fashion is having a real moment. For Vogue, a magazine that represents an incredibly prominent voice in the industry to showcase their commitment to sustainability reflects that deep change towards greener fashion is happening. It signifies an understanding that profits can no longer be placed above the planet, and that the fashion industry must be a driving leader for change in all consumer sectors. The only way forward for fashion is circular, and businesses that do not move away from a linear model must grapple will the fact that they will be losing their customers. 

Much of this has come about due to consumer pressure, especially the more eco-conscious younger generation of shoppers who are now more attuned to the environmental and social footprint of fashion. Figures from the Copenhagen Fashion Summit highlighting how fashion produces 92 million tonnes of landfill waste annually, 10% of carbon emissions and is responsible for 20% of water waste has clearly prompted consumers to point their fingers at major brands. Luxury brands such as Gucci spent 2019 engaging with fashionistas through its carbon neutral campaign, which they achieved by planting enough trees around the world. 

With Vogue Italia kicking off 2020 by putting our environmental footprint on the planet on the headlines, we can only predict that sustainable fashion is not only here to stay, but will explode this year.

All images courtesy of Vogue Italia.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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