The global fashion industry joins forces at Copenhagen Fashion Summit

by Corporate Waste Solutions
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Key players from the fashion industry gathered in Copenhagen on 11 May for the world’s leading annual event on sustainability, the Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

The event drew 800 decision-makers to the city, proclaiming that “being less bad is not being good”. Sustainability leader and co-founder of the Cradle-to-Cradle movement, William McDonough, kicked off the Summit’s nine-hour program, which boasted more than 50 high level speakers, including Tiffany & Co. CEO Michael Kowalski, The New York Times chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman, circular economy authority Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder of Eco Age Ltd. Livia Firth, fashion designer Prabal Gurung and Hugo Boss CEO Mark Langer.

A significant outcome of Copenhagen Fashion Summit, which took place from 9am to 6pm, was the launch of the Call to Action for a Circular Fashion System, presented on stage by Global Fashion Agenda, the summit organiser. By the end of the day global fashion leaders like Inditex, H&M, Adidas, Kering, M&S and Bestseller had signed a commitment to accelerate a circular business model.

Eva Kruse, CEO of Global Fashion Agenda, states, “I’m very pleased that some of the world’s leading and biggest companies signed our Call to Action for a Circular Fashion System. I take this as a clear sign that the industry is not only aware of the need to change and the need to strive towards a closed loop system, but also ready to act.”

Signatories of the Call to Action commit to defining a circular strategy, to setting targets for 2020 and to reporting on the progress of implementing the commitment.

In the two days prior to Copenhagen Fashion Summit, students from around the world worked to draft a UN resolution, the first ever on fashion. At the summit, they hit the stage to present the draft, which will be presented to the UN in New York later this year.

Earlier in the week (and ahead of the Summit), Global Fashion Agenda, in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group, published a groundbreaking in-depth assessment of the fashion industry’s environmental and social performance – the first edition of the ‘Pulse of the Fashion Industry’ report. The 139-page report shows that the industry’s sustainability pulse is weak – scoring only 32 out of 100 points – and that especially small and medium-sized firms, which represent about half of the market, have done little to improve their impact. The report is the first of its kind to ever use data from the HIGG Index, the world’s leading standard in measuring sustainability performance.

A significant outcome of the 2017 Copenhagen Fashion Summit was the launch of the Call to Action for a Circular Fashion System, which was signed by some of the world’s leading and biggest companies. A clear sign that the industry is not only aware of the need to change and the need to strive towards a closed loop system, but also ready to act.

More than 30 companies have already signed, among these are Adidas, ASOS, Bestseller, DK Company, H&M, Inditex, Kering, Marks & Spencer, Target and VF Corporation.

fashion summit

As reflected in the breadth of perspectives that were offered at Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2017, sustainability in fashion can be approached from any number of angles and agendas. The information and views that circulate — from data on recycling and waste reduction to arguments on transparency and consumer responsibility — can be a jungle to navigate. Moreover, professionals in certain areas and positions may want to focus on a given concept or direction, while others may want to pursue a broad overview of developments pertaining to sustainability in the industry.

That is why the 2017 summit addressed four specific paths to sustainability: the macro perspective, circular design, supply chain transparency and sustainable consumption. All four paths pertained to topics that are of particular opportunity, as uncovered in the inaugural ‘Pulse of the Fashion Industry’ report, jointly researched and produced by Global Fashion Agenda and the Boston Consulting Group.

This year’s summit emphasised the need for commitments from participants and provided actual solutions and tangible outcomes. The programme consisted of conversations and panel debates where leading voices and innovative minds shared their view on businesses and new solutions to the pressing challenges facing the fashion industry. That way, Copenhagen Fashion Summit can pave the way for actual change happening in the industry.

Images courtesy of Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

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