words by Maria Mota

Zalando and Copenhagen Fashion Week join forces for the third year in a row to celebrate responsible and forward thinking fashion. 

Berlin based and now Europe’s leading online platform for fashion and lifestyle, Zalando provides head-to-toe fashion offering clothing, footwear, accessories and beauty by a range of international brands from world-famous names to local labels. Together with Copenhagen Fashion Week, the Zalando Sustainability Award was created as both strive for a positive change in the industry. 

Last week, the three finalists, STAMM Exchange, Selam Fessahaye and TG Botanical presented their unique collections and were judged on their sustainable efforts, innovation, and design. The AW23 jury members included Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week, Laura Coppen, the Head of Circularity at Zalando, Lena Sophie Röper, Director of Designer and Luxury at Zalando, Dio Kurazawa, Sustainability and Brand Advisor, and Emily Chan, Sustainability Editor at VOGUE.

Throughout this season we have seen abundant innovation, recyclable textiles, the use of natural dyes, rich craftsmanship, transformative silhouettes, endless creativity and dedication. 

STAMM is a Copenhagen based clothing brand founded by Elisabett Stamm, who describes the approach to her creations as ‘truck poetry’. STAMM graced this season with the collection “INNER G” referring to bringing yourself across, referring to Guru, to ‘GOAT’, to being a ‘G’ in any way. Reflecting on her personal journey and of many others who experienced the feeling of liberation after having been blocked for some years, the balance of walking with peace yet with an inner fire.

The designs are created for longevity, including big silhouettes inviting moment and comfort, a mix of pastel tones with red, blue, and black notes, and a diversity of shapes for a gender fluid styling. STAMM incorporates handmade and naturally processed Indian fabrics aligned with recycled consciously sourced man-made fabrics, an expression of crossways.

Selam Fessahaye debuted her first collection in 2018 and immediately left a mark both on a local and global level, already being mentioned as a “changemaker”. Her garments have been worn by Beyoncé, Tracee Ellis Ross, Swedish Crown Princess Victoria, Lil Nas X, Teyana Taylor, Sam Smith, Adekunle Gold, and Dj Snake to name a few. 

Her sustainable approach includes circularity mainly by using leftover materials, remaking and upcycling, and local production, developed with a sustainable trim supplier in Sweden. Small quantities are pre-produced while the rest is made on demand, preventing unnecessary waste. 

For this season, Fessahaye included elements from her debut and previous collections and presented a wardrobe that resembles playful glamorous extravagance, pure art. The energy of the show was exhilarating, ending with a blissful look (and my personal favorite), involving endless layers of pink tulle accompanied by bow and zip details, a dream ready to be worn.

TG Botanical, by Ukrainian designer Tatyana Chumak, draws inspiration from nature and uses organic materials derived from nature itself. The production process involves experimental techniques for dyeing fabrics with plant pigments obtained from tansy flowers, acorns, onion husks and coffee beans, locally produced in Kyiv. 

Natural fibers transformed into earthy-toned pieces, standing in a constant dialogue between curious cutouts and simplicity. ‘LOGOS’ AW23 offers a sense of ease and serenity through a variety of textures and romantic details, and keeps you wondering, ecstatic, about what is coming next. 

And finally, STAMM was announced as the winner of the AW23 Zalando Sustainability Award in partnership with Copenhagen Fashion Week. Creative director Elisabet Stamm describes her award winning experience as both magical and motivating. A celebration of a young brand that is driven by innovation, diversity and aesthetic expression with a conscious mindset.

“We are humble and proud to be a part of such an important and purposeful platform and have the opportunity to connect with industry leaders. Winning this award will let us expand our network and keep working towards bringing positive change. I also hope to be able to inspire others to create with purpose and believe in exchange across borders.”

Lena Sophie Röper, Director of Designer & Luxury at Zalando says “We are delighted to be able to announce STAMM as the fifth winner of the Zalando Sustainability Award at Copenhagen Fashion Week AW23. The craftsmanship and embroidery on the leather styles as well as the complex construction of the down jackets were a highlight. We look forward to working with STAMM to create a capsule collection that explores alternative design solutions and innovative ideas.”

For their magnificent work during this season and as the winner of the Sustainability Award, STAMM will receive a prize and the opportunity to develop a new exclusive collection partnering with Zalando. The collection will push forward the conversation of sustainable fashion options by exploring solutions in design across materials, production processes, technological solutions and traceability. To further develop STAMM in their growth, the AW23 collection showcased at Copenhagen Fashion week will be available to all European Zalando customers.

Fellow nominees were equally recognized by the jury, Selam Fessahaye for her huge range of materials, styles and technical competency, and TG Botanical for their craftmanship, use of natural raw materials and local production. 

This season beautifully showed that sustainable fashion doesn’t have to look a certain way, it can be anything you want. It was a kind reminder to believe in the beauty of a more responsible industry. 

runway photography James Cochrane

backstage photography Bryndis Thorsteinsdottir