The world’s leading business event on sustainability in fashion, organized by the Global Fashion Agenda team led by Eva Kruse, presented high-level keynote speakers, bringing together managers from H&M, Nice, C&A, Li&Fung and also vegan activist and designer Stella McCartney with representatives from unions, associations and other institutions, as well as the founders of much smaller brands. The aim? To put fashion on a path to long-term prosperity financially, socially, and environmentally. Much must be done, starting in the value-chain (including material mix, working conditions, and efficient use of water, energy, and chemicals) to increase this environmental and social performance. But, where to start? How to do it?
"If we change the fashion industry, we can change the world" was one of the many slogans repeated at the Fashion Summit. Yes, all the speakers admitted that adopting a responsable approach can imply costs and that it is often complicated for small or medium-sized businesses to know how to get started. But in the mid to long term, these commitments pay off, with 1-2% growth in EBIT margin predicted for companies that make them. As they said, “we all need to do decisive actions that have to involve everyone, from brands to vendors, to national and international authorities, with whom new regulations must be thrashed out”.
We were really surprised when entrepreneur and academic David Roberts explained: "Oil is the most polluting industry on the planet. The textile industry takes second place (…) But in the case of oil, competition from solar and wind power could well herald a decline in the usage of this resource. It’s good news. But what's less good news for you is that the textile industry will soon be the most polluting industry in the world, because at the moment you don't have solar power. And you'll soon see what it feels like to win a first prize that nobody wants”. OMG!
Transparency. According to Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Fashion Revolution, “Transparency is the first step towards a different culture, one where brands become open and accountable, and customers become vigilant and ask, ‘who made my clothes?’”.
No more #metoo. Marie-Claire Daveu, chief sustainability officer at Kering, said: "There are very few issues to which LVMH and Kering will both put their names to. But when it's about a subject of that scale, the change is radical".
Circular Economy. Ellen McArthur said: “We need a higher level of ambition than ever before to take these ideas and new ways of working and scale them. That is the only way we can make a circular economy for fashion a reality (…) We have to work together so that it can happen on a global level".
No more over-production. Paul Dillinger, vice president of Levi Strauss & Co: “If six out of 10 garments end up in landfill, should we have made those six garments?”.
Robots will take workforce. According to the World Economic Forum, robots are expected to carry out 25% of all manufacturing by 2020.
In its sixth edition, the event also released of the annual Pulse of the Fashion Industry report, a presentation from the Youth Fashion Summit, which just announced a partnership with the United Nations Global Compact focusing specifically on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 Good Health and Well-being and SDG 5 Gender Equality.
The seven priority areas identified by the Fashion Pulse 2018 include improving traceability and supply chains, making use of water and chemicals more efficient, and ensuring a safer work environment where employees are respected. Thinking long term, the four points which could change the future of the industry include developing new responsable materials, establishing a closed-loop system that reuses materials, improving waste treatment and exploring the potential of new digital technologies, such as Blockchain.
- Hugo Boss stopped preparing physical samples for its 2018 pre-fall collections. Instead, all ítems appeared on large touchscreens presented in digital showrooms, thus eliminating the resources to produce samples and saving transport costs.
- Nike developed an app called “Making” in collaboration with the London College of Fashion that seeks to enable Designers to create more sustainable products base don the environmental impact of their material choices. The app provides a user-friendly tool which ranks materials by four environmental impact areas that are water, chemistry, energy and waste.
- All we know Salvatore Ferragamo is using fabrics made from Orange Fiber, a cellulose yarn from the byproducts of citrus juice, which serves as the basis for a sustainable alternative to silk.
- Vegea specalizes in creating leather that is made entirely from grapes skin, stalks and seeds.
- Algiknit has developed textiles based on a biopolymer made from Kemp and other seaweeds. It is highly renewable (growing ten times as Fast as bamboo) and can absorb nutrients transported into the ocean through sewer or agricultural runoffs.
- Nude Jeans offers repair service to their customers as an additional effort to make its products last longer. Through its Repair shops, customers can bring back their damaged jeans for repair right. In 2016 alone, 44.021 pairs of Nudie Jeans were repaired.
- Eileen Fisher set up a garment Collection scheme across its store network. In 2016, 170,000 garments were collected, equivalent of their yearly production. Once sorted and cleaned, the garments were returned to the shop floor. All sales revenues was donated to over 100 charity organizations.
- Vaude did the same, donating to FairWertung –a charity organization that pushes circularity by collecting old clothing at the end of the lifecycle.
- Inditex has committed to train 100% of their Designers on circular design principles by 2020 as parto f the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment.
We do not want to finish this article without talking about the Innovation Forum, which we found really interesting. It offered us the chance to discover in order to 50 sustainable solution providers covering the entire supply chain – from innovative fabrics to green packaging Solutions- . It also had a pitch stage for the presentation of disruptive innovations and a speed dating event with more than 350 pre-scheduled business meetings between brands and providers based on a prior screening and matchmaking process.
+ info: Copenhagen Fashion Summit