Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Sustainable fashion is an oxymoron – rather built up a sustainable wardrobe

Evolved Vanessa Friedman’s, the fashion editor of the Financial Times, her attempt to write a speech on sustainable fashion for the Fashion Summit, a global event on sustainable fashion hosted in Copenhagen, Denmark on 24th April, 2014.

With the everlasting longing for new apparel to cover up our insecurities, to quote some individualism, to protocol our style or to just be seen by potential mating partners combing with the word sustainable clashes. Sustainability is the opposite of speed, exploiting nature and yes, also breathing living individuals with a need for individualism as well. Therefore rather than pulling in new disposable pieces every week. Take time to grow a story in your wardrobe. What is it telling about you when you open it? What it is whispering, what places and memories are collected in the fabric, what moments have they shared with you.

Awakening to a subject

 Ever since I came to Copenhagen, suddenly being a foreigner, a welcomed one but still a foreigner I met more and more people from all over the world. One thing foreigners like to do the most is talking about their own country and comparing it to the country they live in now. Anyway, sharing stories, getting a feeling about their lives, I started caring. Here lays the key: emotions. One is more open to learn if one has a positive feeling towards something. You don’t care as long as it is far away from you, has no face, voice, no story.

 

This and photography led me to meet my business partner. She invited me into her company with the words only an Indian would use, you have the same energy, you are one of us and now I can get involved in making a difference. One who feels responsible in putting my talents and potential to the world’s service not just a job with an income.

Curious about the market forecast I did my own little market research during the Fashion Week in Copenhagen in January 2014, I found not much content added by designers to the subject sustainable fashion. The designers I talked to couldn’t feel that customer’s asked for fair trade, healthier cloth or textiles with an eco-friendly footprint.  They also had very little intention to rethink and innovate, to change themselves, to adopt to the new challenges. For all who feel they would love to but don’t know how I put together a summary with tools, rather than pointing fingers.

 

Butter bei die Fische – now we are talking

Justin Keeble, Managing Director, Sustainability Services EALA, Accenture presented

5 disruptive ideas for sustainable fashion:

 1)      New consumption models (Share office! Share tools!)

2)      Transparency (Reconnect consumer and producer - Who made my cloth?)

3)      More with less (Saving resources)

4)     Circular Economy (Take it back!)

5)      Shared Value (Who and how can we help?)

 

New consumption models raise the question if everyone has to get a drill they use once a year while they could share and borrow it from someone else that needs one by the nature of his hobby or business. Shared office and studio spaces, shared printers, storage, shared cars and so on can reduce costs, material, CO2 emission, space, fuel to name just a view. We have to care again and ask the question who made my cloth. Reconnect consumers and producers. Give the consumer a face and a story to relate. Create emotional involvement. More with less goes hand in hand with new consumption models. Seek for potentials to save more of what you use or have to use in order to create your products and services.

Where is the little screw you can tighten a bit more so it doesn’t leak the liters of water, the kilos of wood, the cubic meters of CO2, the less hours for workers in India, the more hours for their free time.

 

What happens to your product after it’s life is over, after it has served it’s purpose? Do you care? Do you have a solution? Maybe take it back? What for? Maybe as new material, maybe someone’s trash is another ones treasure – circular economy.

 

You know how important marketing is, it has to be viral marketing and Facebook and twitter and Pinterest, social engagement, building communities around your product and your company. You tell your stories and it is always about good story telling. Go a bit further. Embrace transparency and show. Being vulnerable brings back love they say. A community is an exclusive group of shared interest, shared value. This is where your community participants feel accepted and where they feel good about themselves. So here we have the same effect. Positive emotions open the willingness to listen, to follow, to remember, to learn, to contribute, to be part of something. Cooperation is the word. We need to put our egos aside and cooperate, join forces if we want to make a difference. Let your business be a well to something more than money. Give back and add value. Treasure the ones who make the product.

Shared value – shared revenue

Which leads me to Marco Bizzari. He serves as President and CEO of Bottega Veneta a luxury luggage house which has expanded their portfolio from leather goods to fashion and fragrance.

Bottega Veneta started working with a women cooperative in one village. While reviving craftsmanship by giving skilled workers the option to execute their trade this was just the first one to come. Majors of another villages contacted Bottega Veneta setting up collectives as well. Important to state is the fact that the workers hold shares of the cooperatives.

Interesting and I must say I got goose bumps when I saw his slides of the women and to see this slide where revenue went up. Appreciation, aren’t we all longing for love? By being involved in the making, the process, the individual need for purpose and being valued, even adding value is met. Where the employees are no longer human capital but Olivia, Sofia with a story and are understood as the creator of the very product and therefore company, revenue can go up. Bottega Veneta has also taken great measures to tailor a design studio environment which is an ecosystem in itself. Joint old Italian building structure with modern architecture, ecofriendly with little to zero footprints and is light and shaped to make ideas flow naturally.

Business standards

 

Jason Kibbey of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition introduced the Higg Index as a business standard you can apply in your company or more of a measurement of the environmental performance of apparel products.

 

The key concepts

 

1.       Holistic self-assessment

2.       Measures environmental and social impact

3.       Starting place for engagement and understanding

4.       Targets a spectrum of performance that identifies opportunities to improve

 

Yes you too: Wear with care Wash with care

 

We can contribute as well: low impact garment care they call it. Pay attention to your cloth; don’t drink red wine in a white dress PERIOD

Ginetex - the international Association for textile care labeling brings following advices to us. In a way what my grandma said and did. The even set up a website http://www.clevercare.info/en in case you forget.

{C}·          Don’t wash cloth too often

{C}·         Lower  when machine washing

{C}·         Reduce dry tumbling

{C}·         Iron only when necessary

{C}·         Use dry clean when necessary

Declaration of Dependence

Livia Firth the creative director of Eco-Age Ltd, a brand consultancy that enables businesses to achieve growth and add value through sustainability. She impressed me personally. Why first when I get goose bumps when I listen to somebody but also because there was something determined and strong about her and absolutely devoted and serious. 

She launched The Green Carpet Challenge® in 2009 and therefore eliminated the negative association and biggest challenges in Eco-Fashion, to get rid of the stigma of being ugly, boring, plain, baggy by bringing it to the place where seduction and glamor and shine is celebrated the most – on the carpets of the famous. How do you deal with fear and threat, you face it!

 

Her pleading of exposing sourcing and your supply chain in the declaration of dependence may be executed by good story telling.

She kept addressing the issue of high frequency collection output during a panel debate on the future of fashion. Why H&M is not reducing the output of collections, which is almost bi-weekly now and causes a lot of brain drain of designers. After all fashion's selling argument is design and looks and this goes to the account of designers.

Where design becomes a production and output, creativity is exhausted.

A little over a year ago in March 2013 at a roundtable debate, hosted by the Guardian in association with Timberland® in London they obvious responsibility by the industry was put in the hand of the consumers. Large scale changes in the industry can only come from vast demand for sustainable fashion. This summit clearly indicated a fast growth of awareness. There is movement and there is a changing mindset in the industry. One can feel a certain awaking of common sense within. As this summit was directed at about 1,100 decision-makers and thought leaders in fashion, business and influencers to act and to attract more CEO of retail companies to the summit next year.

We shall all not forget why this rapid awakening took place, helping to elevate the consequences of our disconnect from who made our garments to our eye level was the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Securing the base

Accord is an agreement of making garment factories a safer workplaces by setting standards for fire, electrical and building inspection, publicly reporting inspection results and have compliance for actions to be taken to assure safety of the workers.

Until September 2014 Accord has committed to inspect 1500 factories. When the wellbeing of the workers is endangered the factory will get suspended from production until the safety risks are eliminated. 

The sad one year anniversary became the day of the Fashion Summit and the Fashion Revolution Day.