On the eve of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, 2017, Eva Kruse, CEO & President of Global Fashion Agenda, the driving force behind the now annual summit, spoke of the challenges and opportunities facing the global fashion industry in tackling sustainability issues.
The world’s second most polluting industry after oil and gas, fashion faces the stark reality that by 2030 global garment production will increase by 63%, in response to the planet’s growing population, expected by then to exceed 8.5 billion – an unsustainable quantity that has sparked tomorrow’s summit’s call to action: appealing to fashion brands and retailers to adopt circular systems. The crux of circular systems is collection, reuse and recycling of garments, feeding them back into the manufacturing process so that the majority of garments no longer go into landfill, ultimately making the existing linear model of “take, make, dispose” obsolete. By 2030 retailer H&M aims to operate under a fully circular model – that is, only using recycled materials in its garment production.
Important points arising from pre-summit discussions today at the Hotel Skt Petri, a fitting venue, being that the hotel is powered by 100% offshore wind energy, included the need for innovation and collaboration between stakeholders across the fashion industry. The Pulse of the Fashion Industry report compiled by The Boston Consulting Group and the Global Fashion Agenda will be formally launched and discussed at tomorrow’s summit and will outline where the fashion industry is in terms of sustainability efforts today, and where it needs to be to avoid environmental and humanitarian crises in the future.
Jason Kibbey, CEO of Sustainable Apparel Coalition, underpinned the importance of the Global Fashion Agenda by explaining that it could provide a unified focus amongst hundreds of splintered initiatives on sustainability across the industry. He went on to say that recycling garments is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry currently, echoing the call for circularity mentioned earlier.
An encouraging discourse was led by Marco Lucietti, Global Marketing Director of ISKO, who outlined the denim manufacturer’s ‘long journey’ towards being fully responsible in manufacturing and sustainability terms, which has led to innovations such as indigo dyeing without the use of water and their Earth Fit collection, which has been created from organic cotton, post-recycled polyester and Lenzing fibres (which are manufactured under a circular business model). Marco was clear in outlining the role ISKO has in shaping the textile offering to brands and guiding them to make sustainable textile choices.
Marco cited one of the biggest challenges for the sustainability agenda currently as being consumer attitudes towards ‘sustainable garments’ and the false impression that sustainability means a compromise on design and/or quality. He is calling for a drive to help convince customers of the superiority of sustainable fashion and make it a major purchasing driver for consumers.
ISKO’s I-Skool initiative gives fashion students access to their sustainable denim and affords them the knowledge and understanding of how these materials can be integral to the design process, rather than an optional alternative to more polluting ones. I-Skool is a denim award held in collaboration with Copenhagen Fashion Summit. It showcased the work of ten fashion students with the eventual winner, Farah Sherif Wali, being chosen by an International judging panel including previous creative director of Oscar De La Renta, Peter Copping and Bandana Tewari, fashion features director at Vogue India.
I-Skool finalist designers included, from top – Annie Ansell (UAL, Chelsea), Quinton Lovelace (FIDM, LA), Elena Turkhina (ESMOD, Berlin), and winner, Farah Sherif Wali (Polimoda, Florence)- Images: Techstyler
Rounding off this pre-summit piece is a brief overview of the two day Youth Fashion Summit which ends today, from which a draft of the first ever UN resolution on fashion will be formed. In partnership with Swarovski, the collaboration between the Global Fashion Agenda and the Copenhagen School of Design Technology (KEA) has given students the platform to discuss and produce the draft resolution in order to shape the future of the fashion industry and lead the fight for sustainable practices. Expanding on this, Dax Lovegrove, Global Vice President of Corporate Sustainability and Social Responsibility at Swarovski, stated that the three key topics coming out of the two day Youth Summit had been climate change, a fair deal in the supply chain for all and circular economy. Dax summarised by saying that solving societal problems and ‘eradicating forced labour’ were also key discussion points. A promising start to a global summit promising to prove that sustainability is not only an environmental and societal issue, but a business issue too.
Header Image: Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2016