Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2018 “From words to action” is the theme of this year’s editionThe balance sheet on the progress made and a road map on the actions to be taken in order to change the fashion reference models were presented at the world’s leading business event on sustainability in fashion. There is now an urgent need for companies to support and accelerate change
“A little less conversation, a little more action”: after analysis and discussions on the current situation, the time has come for action at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, which was founded in 2009 and has established itself as the world’s leading business event on sustainability in fashion. Organised by the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) – a non-profit initiative headed by Eva Kruse – it is held under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Mary of Denmark, and each year for two days brings together decision makers, key players from the fashion industry, NGOs, international institutions and academia to discuss sustainability in fashion and to create an understanding on the most critical issues facing our planet and its inhabitants.The sixth edition of the summit was presented by the actress and entrepreneur Amber Valletta and Tim Blanks, editor-at-large of the Business of Fashion (BoF) and saw the presence of 1,300 guests from more than 50 countries across the globe, with more top managers than ever before and a 60% growth in participation from Asia, a sign that the interest of Far East economies towards a sustainable approach is growing. Among the 75 high-level speakers were designer Stella McCartney, Paul van Zyl, CEO of Maiyet, Pamela Batty, vice president of social responsibility at Burberry, Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Eric Sprunk, COO of Nike, Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, Sébastien Fabre, CEO and cofounder of Vestiaire Collective, model and activist Lily Cole.
The keywords at the Copenhagen Concert Hall were ‘collaboration’ and ‘partnership’, during the intense two days of meetings between key players operating in different segments and levels of fashion: luxury, fast fashion, large distribution and production of raw materials.
As fashion embarks on a long-term path of financial, social and environmental prosperity, the necessary change will require much more than the small changes witnessed in the latest Pulse of Fashion report (see box) published at the summit by the Global Fashion Agenda with the help of the Boston Consulting Group. What is needed now is a clear and concrete commitment from industry leaders to prioritise a responsible long-term strategy, despite the pressure of quarterly results. More action and less words, more willingness to change immediately and less procrastinating in the near future. Fashion, in fact, is still the second most polluting industry in the world after the gas and oil industry. The good intentions of brands and organisations are not enough: at the moment, few know how to change the course and reverse the path, having little knowledge and little experience in applying a sustainable business model. In this regard, the launch of a new exhibition space, the Innovation Forum, was a great success, where exhibitors including ECONYL® and Piñatex brought their sustainable solutions allowing to create an opportunity to meet directly with suppliers.
The main theme of this year’s forum therefore seems more urgent than ever, clearly defining a trajectory of concrete solutions and inviting CEOs to act as soon as possible. On their part, GFA presented the CEO agenda 2018, with concrete ideas and suggestions divided into seven main points that can be used to make their company more sustainable in the long term, a real “to do list” for brands of the future – because sustainability is no longer (only) a trend, it is now an imperative at company level.
The research of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) revealed three scenarios of disruptive business models for the fashion sector. They are part of the Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2018, a report that sees environmental, social and ethical challenges as an opportunity to create value rather than a factor to be feared. Among the most interesting contents of the Report, three possible solutions to make the fashion sector more sustainable. First of all, the instantaneousness and customisation factor, through which – technologies like 3D printing or other on-demand productions – consumers receive only the clothes they choose – when and how they want them – avoiding overproduction and waste. In this respect, there is also a technology for producing “intelligent fibres” which, when inserted into garments, allows consumers to modify, according to their preferences, some important characteristics of the garment such as the colour. Another proposal is the application of the principles of sharing economy applied to fashion: the clothes are no longer bought but are rented when they are needed and then returned.