Extending the Fashion Packaging War to Fashion Invitations

The days of Maison Martin Margiela putting up a show announcement in the newspaper and mandating fashion editors and buyers call a hotline that led to an answering machine with the time and location of the runway show are long gone. After that, the free newspaper was collected, repurposed, and distributed to the media.

Plastic dress from bags
Photo by Karina Tess on Unsplash

Every season, brands compete to create the most eye-catching invites - laser-cut plastic and extra heavy-weight 285 gsm, high-grade bleached wood pulp papers. But, of course, no editor would bother calling in and asking for their RSVP when they have eight shows a day multiplied by three weeks.

What about invitations via email? Undignified.

Plastic or recycled paper? Odour.

Because of the flood of fashion show invitations, Imran Amed, editor-in-chief of The Business of Fashion, wondered, "Why do we still need paper invitations in the digital age?" His followers rapped in unison in response to his post "Yes! It's ridiculous, wasteful, and expensive!"

The wastage debate permeates every aspect of the fashion industry, including unreasonable fabric waste from fast fashion companies, excessive wastage incurred from product packaging, particularly with the rise of e-commerce, unnecessary fashion packaging, and now, fashion show invites.

Stella McCartney's press office confirms that a runway spectacle has at least 500 attendees. TIPA, a bio-plastics company, manufactured the envelopes that housed the show invitations at McCartney. The compostable plastic sleeves signaled the brand's decision to replace their current packaging with compostable TIPA plastics.

According to industry standards, each new piece of clothing must be presented in its own plastic carrier. And the majority of these plastic films are single-use: when customers bring an item home, they unwrap it and discard the bags. The introduction of McCartney will neither regulate nor encourage the use of plastic carriers in the fashion industry. Nonetheless, it provides a solution to the landfill conundrum.

While conventional plastics have a 500-year lifespan, McCartney's TIPA plastics degrade "like the peel of an orange." The press release does not specify a time frame, but a slice of orange peel molds in about a week. As a result, according to McCartney, TIPA's runway show envelope and future garment packaging "can be disposed of along with food waste."

The challenge now is clearly to brand these compostable plastics for McCartney's customers in 77 countries.