S & S In Brief: Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2019

The Copenhagen Fashion Summit was founded a decade ago and has called itself the world’s leading business event on sustainability in fashion.

It seeks to unite stakeholders of the fashion world and is attended by over 1000 industry executives to bring sustainability to the tables of CEO’s.

Urgency is necessary, as whilst the buzz around the framework of sustainable fashion grows, progression and action is actually slowing. According to McKinsey & Co, the industry was responsible for 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2015, with no mitigation this could increase as much as 80% by 2025.

The scope of the Summit’s programme stretches to the many avenues of fashion. Discussions took place on executives’ priorities, design, supply chains, circularity, wages, industry 4.0 as well as consumerism. The Summit also houses a crucial innovation forum which showcases disruptive solutions for companies to catalyse change.

There was quite the line of key note speakers including Emanuel Chirco, Chair & CEO of PVH Corp, Ex Unilever’s Paul Polman, M& S’s Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business as well as Helen Crowley, Head of Sustainable Sourcing Innovation at Kering.

Kering’s Chief Executive Francois-Henri Pinaul touched heavily upon the business case for sustainability noting “There’s plenty of evidence to show sustainable companies enjoy better performance and sustainability is a business opportunity,”

Pinaul  has in fact been called upon by French Prime Minister Macron ahead of the next G7 summit in August held in Biarittz to unite and collaborate with key industry players to set a unified set of sustainability goals.

Driving disruptive strategies, technologies, innovations and education to consumers to lead the change will be imperative to actioning and reaching such goals, for example the collaboration of Stella McCartney and Google. Together the partners lead the industry with their aim to analyse data sets of Stella’s supply chain and run it through machine learning algorithms to develop tools for brands to provide clear views of their supply chain!

Also noteworthy are the below:

  • Nike announced its Circular Design Workbook to provide designers and product creators across the industry with a common language for circularity. Nike is a signatory of the Global Fashion Agenda 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment, which calls on fashion brands and retailers to accelerate the transition to a circular fashion system.
  • A new manifesto to deliver a circular economy in textiles. In a unique collaboration between EURATEX (European Apparel and Textile Confederation), Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI), Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), International Apparel Federation (IAF) and Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the manifesto calls on existing and forthcoming EU policymakers to rethink tools to establish a circular fashion system.
  • Kering announced a commitment that the group’s Houses will only hire models aged over 18 to represent adults at their fashion shows and photo sessions as of 2020. In his speech, François-Henri Pinault also revealed that he has been tasked by French president Emmanuel Macron to create a “coalition” of CEOs and top companies in the fashion industry to join forces and set ambitious sustainability targets together.
  • PVH Corp. released the evolution of its corporate responsibility strategy, Forward Fashion, a vision for the future that sets a new level of ambition and transparency, and reinforces its long-standing commitment to sustainable business.

Conversations held at this level are invaluable, however talk is cheap if companies cannot put their words into actions. I will look forward to seeing the developments come to fruition but adhere to Lucy Siegel’s sceptical sentiment on the initiatives set and the over use of sustainable rhetoric/green marketing to make products sell.

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