The “Sustainable” Issue

Kim Fisher

Visual Artist | Creative | Fashion | Editorial
I help you create ✨

“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
– Anne-Marie Bonneau

      Italian Vogue has never shied away from using its platform to highlight social issues. From Franca Sozzani’s only black models’ issue, and an editorial portraying the BP oil spill to the most recent January issue where Emanuele Farneti tackles the issue of sustainability and the role played by the publication in contributing to the problem.

Jessica Testa writes in The New York Times:

“What is a fashion magazine without photo shoots? Without those glossy images of models, photographed in glamorous locales and produced by a small army of hairstylists, makeup artists, editors and assistants? 
It’s a more environmentally friendly magazine, for one. Or so says Italian Vogue, which aims to make a statement about sustainability this month by omitting photo shoots.”

Instead of the usual editorial photo shoots the magazine commissioned artists to create the 8 different covers for the January issue. Some examples as a cover art here.

        Personally, I try to be sustainable at home, saying no to plastic straws and taking my own bags to the grocery store, but before I read about Vogue Italia’s January issue, I had never considered my sustainability impact in terms of my profession.

It is true that some editorial photoshoots can involve several national or international trips involving cars, planes, and trains, not only for the crew but in some instances for the garments alone. There is also the lighting to consider, which may be switched on for hours at a time, generators maybe needed, there is waste from catering services, and the list goes on. All of which contribute toward the problem. 

But is a photoshoot free magazine really more sustainable?

Running a quick Instagram poll (so please take the results with a pinch of salt) revealed that 74% of those who responded felt that this was not necessarily resulting in a more sustainable issue.


I’ll be the first to admit that I can be somewhat idealistic and have never worked on a project as grand as those that grace the pages of Vogue, but what if instead of completely eradicating the photo shoot production we focused on making the photo shoots themselves more sustainable? Focusing less of exotic locations and shooting closer to home, keep the team small, include vintage pieces or ’stylists/models own’.

But I think the question of a magazine’s sustainability goes far beyond just the environmental cost of the photo shoots and must include other factors including the production of the magazine itself. An article in TIME Magazine begins to address these issues, stating that “Vogue Italia will reportedly change its packaging to 100% compostable plastic wrap in the next year.” and goes on to say that “In December 2019, all 25 editors-in-chief of Vogue brands signed a new set of principles, which included a commitment to sustainability.”

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