Sustainability – Copenhagen Fashion Week

“On 28 January 2020, Copenhagen Fashion Week launched Sustainability Action Plan 2020-2022 designed to reinforce the event’s sustainability profile and, more importantly, to push the industry to accelerate its sustainability efforts.”


On 28 January 2020, Copenhagen Fashion Week unveiled the new Sustainability Action Plan 2020-2022: Reinventing Copenhagen Fashion Week – Reducing negative impacts, innovating our business model and accelerating industry change.

“All industry players – including fashion weeks
– have to be accountable for their actions and be willing to change the way business
is done. The timeframe for averting the devastating effects of climate change
on the planet and people is less than a decade, and we’re already witnessing its
catastrophic impacts today. Put simply, there can be no status quo,” urged
Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week, at the press conference for
the launch of the plan adding:

“Copenhagen Fashion Week is the cultural and
commercial meeting place of the Scandinavian fashion industry. This gives us an
enormous responsibility and the potential to create impactful change in the
industry at large. By taking this direction we go from being a traditional
event to being a platform for industry change.”

Sustainability Action Plan 2020-2022 presents
how the event will transition to becoming more sustainable, for example by reducing
its climate impact by 50% and rethinking waste systems in all aspects of event
production, with zero waste as the goal by 2022. Importantly, the plan also
focuses on the bigger picture by outlining how Copenhagen Fashion Week will
implement sustainability requirements and set new standards for participation
to push the industry toward necessary, comprehensive change.

Sustainability Action Plan 2020-2022 was developed in 2019 with Copenhagen Fashion Week’s knowledge partner, In futurum, founded by Moussa Mchangama and Frederik Larsen. Copenhagen Fashion Week’s Board of Directors and Sustainability Advisory Board, comprising industry profiles such as Ganni’s founder Nicolaj Reffstrup, Global Fashion Agenda’s CEO Eva Kruse and Vogue Australia’s Sustainability Editor-at-Large Clare Press, were also actively involved in the process. The 2023 Sustainability Requirements presented in the action plan were reviewed by a panel of internationally acknowledged experts, including Orsola de Castro of Fashion Revolution, Professor Dilys Williams from the Centre for Sustainable Fashion and Professor of Biological Oceanography Katherine Richardson.

Download Sustainability Action Plan 2020-2022


Keenly aware of the fashion industry’s substantial environmental and social impact, Copenhagen Fashion Week announced in early 2019 its goal to intensify efforts to become a more sustainable event and industry platform. 

The raison d’être of Copenhagen Fashion Week is to support successful development of the industry, which is why we believe that implementing radical, sustainable changes is crucial to future proofing and ensuring a sustainable industry. To harness our capacity to propel change in the industry, we embarked on the sustainable transition of Copenhagen Fashion Week.

Being at the beginning of our journey comes with the realization that fundamental change is a complex, resource-intensive process that does not happen overnight. Becoming more sustainable means leaving no stone unturned, in addition to identifying key areas with the highest potential for positive change. Since the spring 2019, we have been developing a three-year sustainability action plan to be launched on 28 January 2020. The plan will unfold how, not only the event itself will transition to a more sustainable one, but also how new standards for brands who wish to showcase their collections at Copenhagen Fashion Week will be introduced.

“It’s not an issue that can be solved with a simple flick of the wrist, but I believe that it’s our duty as a leading player in the fashion ecosystem to take a thorough look at how Copenhagen Fashion Week can serve to benefit the fashion industry’s sustainability agenda to the greatest extent possible. […] As a trendsetting fashion week, we need to help make sustainability attractive. We have a voice and an ethical obligation to use it,” explained new CEO Cecilie Thorsmark in a press release in January 2019.

In order to deliver on our vision to become a leading sustainable fashion week, Copenhagen Fashion Week established in early 2019 a sustainability advisory board and initiated a strategic process in cooperation with our knowledge partner In futurum focusing on selected UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 


Our sustainability strategy is underpinned by the UN SDGs, the following three in particular, to map the sustainability potential of Copenhagen Fashion Week. They will be updated annually to reflect new initiatives and new knowledge. The release of our three-year action plan will furthermore present our specific SDG targets and future initiatives. 

SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production

We support and advocate for more conscious, sustainable production and consumption of fashion in all parts of the value chain. The launch of Copenhagen Fashion Week’s three-year action plan in January 2020, which is designed to accelerate the sustainable development of the fashion industry, will set new standards for fashion week participation, pushing the industry in a more responsible, future-proof direction.

Resource efficiency is also a centrepiece of the actual event production of Copenhagen Fashion Week. For instance in June 2019 we initiated a ban on single-use plastic bottles at all Copenhagen Fashion Week events, facilities, shows and showrooms, effective as of the August 2019 (SS20) edition of fashion week. We also developed and published a free 15-step guide to inspire fashion brands to produce more responsible shows, presentations and events. The guide will be updated each season to reflect new insights and knowledge on responsible event production. In terms of our own production of fashion week activities, we always prioritize selecting sustainable options for supplies, including organic, vegetarian and preferably locally sourced food and snacks, sustainable beverages, no single-use plastic cutlery, straws or tableware, the most environmentally friendly busses available and electric cars. We have stopped using goodie bags and stopped producing new seasonal staff uniforms.

As of 2020 we will release a sustainability report on our progress to hold ourselves accountable and to maintain transparency, while simultaneously encouraging fashion companies to do the same. 

SDG 13: Climate Action

Copenhagen Fashion Week’s own operations have been climate compensated and we support two Verified Carbon Standard and Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance Gold Level projects through Rensti, respectively tree planting (Tist) and forest conservation (Kariba). We offset the flights and hotel accommodation of Copenhagen Fashion Week’s invited international guests, our official opening dinner, the press busses (including the organic food and beverages served on the busses), logo stickers for cars and we run a climate-neutral website. We furthermore only use electric cars during Copenhagen Fashion Week.

By measuring our carbon footprint, we are provided with the insights needed in order to identify the areas where it is possible to reduce our impact.

In 2020 our goal is to measure the event’s entire carbon footprint, including shows and presentations. We will continue to identify new solutions to reduce our impact, while being honest about using offsets to balance unavoidable carbon emissions.

SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals

Whenever possible we only work with responsible suppliers and partners pioneering sustainable products or who have established ambitious sustainability strategies. Our main areas of focus are food, snack and beverage suppliers for press busses and other vehicles, merchandise partners as well as our hotel partner.


Although unable to directly influence the every-day decision making of brands, we will continue to use our role and our voice to make sustainability more attractive, to guide brands and to accelerate the industry’s sustainability efforts through our three-year plan, that will set new standards for brands presenting at Copenhagen Fashion Week.

We will remain ambitious, share our learnings and promote transparency, for example by acknowledging imperfection along the way. We strongly believe that every step toward more responsible business practices counts and that the sum of our efforts will ultimately drive the change we desire. An emphasis on collaboration between all stakeholders in the industry, including trade shows, industry events, industry associations and, of course, fashion companies, will help push this change.


In January 2019 Copenhagen Fashion Week established a sustainability advisory board consisting of Danish and international industry profiles. The Advisory Board serves as a sounding board and discussion forum for shaping the sustainable development of Copenhagen Fashion Week

Advisory board members:

Charlotte Eskildsen
Creative Director
Designers Remix

Eva Kruse
Global Fashion Agenda

Franciska Rosenkilde
Mayor of Culture & Leisure
City of Copenhagen

Mads Nørgaard
CEO and designer
Mads Nørgaard

Nicolaj Reffstrup

Sandra Joy Sahlertz
Business Development Director
Boozt Fashion

Veronica D’Souza
CEO and founder

Amy Powney
Creative Director
Mother of Pearl

Clare Press
Sustainability Editor-at-Large
Vogue Australia


In spring 2019 we teamed up with In futurum, a strategic consultancy advising design and fashion companies on responsible business, for the cooperation on our strategic process including the three-year plan described above.


To learn more about our efforts and goals, or to share insights and feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact us: or subscribe to our newsletter.

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