UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2017

Bringing together an international community of business leaders, academics and Government to accelerate action towards the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.

“We are ready…to make Global Goals local business”– Lise Kingo, CEO United Nations Global Compact.

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Marking three years since the launch of the SDGS, the summit focused on empowering leaders to embed the Global Goals into the spirit and everyday practice of their businesses. Lise Kingo called for deeper integration of all the goals and reminded the audience of the importance of the ‘5 P’s’ “people, planet, partnerships, prosperity and peace” in meeting the 2030 targets.

We met the ten SDG Pioneers for 2017, nominated for their bold action for the Global Goals and as part of the ‘Break Through’ Section my colleague Ricardo Garay presented our resolution on sustainable fashion on behalf of the Youth Fashion Summit, Copenhagen (read our full resolution here). Finally, the SDG Reporting Handbook was launched in partnership with the Global Reporting Initiative which offers participants a new set of guidelines designed to unify and simplify business reporting on the SDGS.

“The timing is right, right now” Lise Kingo, CEO UNGC.

After a day filled with optimistic examples of innovation towards the 2030 Goals, Lise Kingo’s closing speech centred on the theme of collective action. She urged business leaders to promote and live the Global Goals starting by finding ways to transform every employee into an SDG ambassador. She stressed the importance of seizing the present moment to mobilise businesses, to pool ideas and actions and to create momentum for a future we all want.

“Leaps of innovation require a bravery that borders on absurdity” Lise Kingo quoting Astro Teller.

Commitment to Change; Youth Fashion Summit 2017, day 3

On the final day of YFS we presented the final draft of our UN fashion resolution at Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Copenhagen Fashion Summit serves as a platform for all areas of the industry to meet and discuss the ever pressing issue of sustainability in fashion. The event was led by inspirational speakers from leading NGOs such as Green Peace and experts on circularity such as William McDonough, author of Cradle to Cradle and Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The theme of this year was Commitment to Change with a focus on creating ‘common understanding and industry-wide commitment on the most critical issues facing our industry and planet’.

Our resolution addressed each of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and covered areas including education, well being and civic empowerment as well as circularity, transparency and pollution. Following our presentation (which you can read in full below) Lise Kingo, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Impact invited us to present our resolution at the UN Global Compact Leader Summit in New York during the UN General Assembly. Kingo emphasised the need for a future where “sustainable business is mainstream business” and reminded us of our responsibility as future fashion leaders “to write the playbook for the next steps the industry needs to take today, to create the world for tomorrow”.

It was an honour to present our resolution on stage alongside thought leaders like Lise Kingo, Eileen Fisher and Livia Firth and I hope our resolution will help others in the industry wake-up to the urgent for change. From the all the speakers, the message I took from the summit was the time for action is now.

Read our full resolution below;

1. Expects the fashion industry to begin immediately working with non-profit initiatives and government groups to reduce inequality, alleviate poverty and ensure food security, with progress made by 2030, including through:

(a) helping to reduce inequality by reinvesting 0,7% of annual sales to support local manufacturing communities;

b) providing all workers with access to free health insurance, day care facilities, a meal a day and professional training;

c) suggesting governments and industry leaders enforce sustainable agricultural practices to help ensure food security by increasing the share of organic polyculture farming by 50%;

2. Urges all stakeholders in the fashion industry to establish global and local partnerships to make the world a more equitable, just and peaceful place, by:

(a) requesting all stakeholders to collaborate on breaking existing barriers between people, companies and member states to enable a flow of sustainable progress;

(b) welcoming the UN to develop a full sustainability report by 2020 that provides a holistic evaluation of the fashion industry, measuring performance not only in relation to monetary value;

(c) encouraging the UN to facilitate the implementation of a third-party organ by 2025 to monitor the status of collaboration between stakeholders related to the fashion industry;

(d) insisting that fashion stakeholders fully commit to a standardized performance system, by 2025;

3. Compels relevant stakeholders to strengthen the human bond, from maker to wearer, through education and changing the mindsets of producers and consumers by:

(a) requiring fashion companies to provide on company websites, labels, social media, and in reports transparent information per garment of each step in the whole supply chain by 2030;

(b) demanding manufacturers to empower workers by prioritizing educational activities regarding labor rights, personal financial growth, leadership, and worker representation in 10% collective ownerships;

(c) encouraging the UN to facilitate an interactive platform in at least five languages, bringing people together to take action against inequality by participating in online courses and webinars, involving industry leaders, government, organizations and companies;

4. Requests stakeholders to protect and restore our natural capital by:

(a) implementing ecological systems and recycling technologies throughout the value chain by substituting conventional cotton, reducing landfills, and eliminating textile waste in the fashion sector by 2030;

(b) encouraging fashion companies and manufacturers to immediately commit to water stewardship programs and to disclose personal targets for the same, to protect life below water from microplastic contamination, aiming to eliminate all virgin plastic by 2030;

(c) insisting that brands and governments support manufacturers and producers in eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals and materials, complying with the Greenpeace Detox Campaign to reduce pesticide use by 50% by 2022, achieving total elimination by 2030;

5. Calls on the entire fashion industry and the involved member states to lead the global preservation of and access to freshwater for all by 2025 through intensified research and investment in innovative technologies by:

(a) reducing water pollution and the release of harmful chemicals by 50% in 2025 and by 100% in 2030;

(b) introducing closed-loop water recycling legislation on a government level;

(c) implementing shared value community water management in collaboration with governments, NGOs, industries, and local communities, as well as stressing the urgency and awareness of these issues through education provided by member states and the fashion industry;

6. Obliges stakeholders to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement, ensuring that, by 2030, 100% of the total energy used in the fashion supply chain will be renewable energy by:

(a) inviting all member states to ensure renewable energy practices by encouraging public and private partnerships throughout the fashion supply chain, reaching a binding commitment agreed upon by 2018;

(b) requesting that all organizations’ energy consumption statistics be published for public access;

(c) requiring the entire fashion supply chain to set in place the necessary infrastructure and encourage innovation to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency; In commitment to our future,

7. Appeals to all stakeholders to invest in recycling technology and infrastructure with the aim to transition to circular mindsets and systems in fashion production by:

(a) encouraging all member states to adopt already existing technologies to collect and process commercial and industrial textile waste By 2022;

(b) investing in a platform to share information, facilities, and resources to provide guidelines and tools to enable a holistic circular system for all stakeholders in the fashion industry by educating them about circular strategies and solutions by 2020.

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Negotiations; Youth Fashion Summit 2017, Day 2

Meeting with industry stakeholders on the second day of Youth Fashion Summit 2017

On the first day we worked in small groups dedicated to one or more of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 to develop fashion specific targets for positive change.  On day 2 it was time to put those targets to the test with industry stakeholders. Each group met in turn with a representative from the luxury sector, the high-street, government, manufacturing and civil society to negotiate their objectives for the future.

The High-street was represented by Hendrik Alpen, Sustainability Business Expert at H&M.

The Luxury Sector was represented by Dax Lovegrove, Global Vice President of Swarovski and Myriam Coudoux, Head of Communications.

The Government was represented by Lars Mortensen, Head of International Cooperation and Partnerships at the European Environment Agency.

Civil Society was represented by Lu Yen Rololf, Communications Lead for ‘Detox My Fashion‘ Campaign at Green Peace.

As part of Flourishing; The Ecological Agenda team, we requested action in four different areas related to Sustainable Development Goals; 13 Climate Action, 14 Life below water and 15 Life on land.

In regards to land use we urged all sectors to work together in the implementation and upscale of alternative ecological materials in substitution of conventional cotton. We requested that by 2030, conventional cotton must be phased out of supply chains. We urged the industry to reduce landfill reliance and invest in recycling technology. This was well received by Hendrik Alpen from H&M, who felt confident these were an achievable target for the High-street. H&M is already on track to reach their personal target of 100% sustainable cotton use by 2020.

When discussing water usage, Dax Lovegrove from Swarovski suggested fashion companies together with manufacturers commit to water stewardship programmes and disclose personal targets for the responsible water consumption.

In order to preserve marine life and protect the health of our oceans from micro-plastic contamination, we also appealed to fashion brands to take the necessary steps to reduce the use of virgin fuel based products by 2030.

We asked companies and manufacturers to the disclose their chemical reduction targets and to comply to frameworks such as the Greenpeace Detox Campaign with the aim of eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals by 2030. We requested the fashion industry move towards a low carbon business model (following Global Climate Action targets set at COP21) and asked companies to publish science based targets for 2022.

We received valuable feedback from all of the stakeholders which enabled us to refine and develop our initial targets into dynamic and achievable objectives. We spent the afternoon condensing this work into a final resolution to present the next day at Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

Something to take away…

Harvard principles for open and honest negotiation…

People – treat people and problems separately

Interests – put interests at the centre of discussion rather than positions

Options – before deciding on solution develop a range of options

Criteria  – build result on objective decision making principles

 

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Vivienne Westwood says SWITCH! at Fabric

As part of her continued environmental activism, last Monday Vivienne Westwood launched SWITCH! at Fabric; a club night for the environmentally conscious, fashion crowd.

Vivienne’s social enterprise Climate Revolution teamed up with Ecotricity to host the event with a clear message; it’s time to switch to GREEN ENERGY!

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On entering the club we were reminded what it was all about; A Climate Revolution.

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, Britain’s largest green energy supplier, opened the night with a video. He spoke about his former life on the road as new age traveller and the lessons he learnt from being self reliant. The idea of Ecotricity was born through the experience of making his own energy via a windmill on the roof of his van. He explained how a connection to nature and concern for the unsustainability of life as we know it has been the driving force throughout his life. Since burning of fossil fuels for electricity forms the biggest single cause of climate change, switching to green energy is perhaps the most significant change we can make as individuals.

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Next, Dame Viv herself graced the stage with an entourage of models sporting her latest collection titled ‘Ecotricity’ in tribute to the energy supplier. She reminded us of our power as active citizens to shape our economy, our future and our planet. The paper crowns served as metaphor for taking back power from the “rotten financial system” and richest 1%. She explained the imminent risk posed by climate change using the world map behind her. The red area indicates uninhabitable land if the sea level were to rise by just 5%. She urged the 900 strong crowd to “stop the demand for fossil fuels and further fracking and make choices that stop climate change”.

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After the speeches, guest DJ ‘A Guy Called Gerald’ provided the soundtrack to night with a little help from Eli Li who owned the stage (in Vivienne Westwood of course).

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Embracing the post apocalyptic, Mad Max theme.
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Guests wore Vivienne’s latest collection ‘Ecotricity’

Switching to green energy is the “one truly political act you can make as an individual”.

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“Paper crowns mean people power!”

Instructions on how to make you crown at Climate Revolution.

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In a truly sustainable fashion, guests were encouraged to reuse their cups.

While a club night during Fashion Week -one of the most highly consumption driven events in the year – might not seem an appropriate place to discuss climate change, this is where action is needed the most. It is essential to engage with fashion enthusiasts in order to generate change from within.  The resounding message of the night was people power and if the Climate Revolution starts now, what a way better to welcome it than through dancing.

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Finally, a couple of photos of me and my great friend Ffi. I didn’t get the memo about the dress code so went for a piece from my final collection teamed with sash made by Susanna Molla, an amazing craftivist and member of Sisters Uncut. Check out her online shop here.

In conversation: Christopher Raeburn and Graeme Raeburn at Today Studios.

Last week Hackney’s new creative workspace played host to brothers Christopher and Graeme Raeburn for an informal discussion on their ventures in fashion and sportswear. The intimate upper floor was packed with creatives keen to participate in conversation and reflect on the success of this cutting edge design duo.

Last week Hackney’s new creative workspace played host to brothers Christopher and Graeme Raeburn for an informal discussion on their ventures in fashion and sportswear. The intimate upper floor was packed with creatives keen to participate in conversation and reflect on the success of this cutting edge design duo.

A pioneer in his field Christopher Raeburn has sought to raise the profile of sustainable design with his eponymous label. Since its launch in 2008, the brand has been involved in numerous high profile collaborations including Victorinox, Fred Perry and Moncler. In 2011, US Vogue highlighted Raeburn’s achievement in bringing sustainability into the mainstream with the advice “Remember the four R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Ræburn”. The brand currently has over sixty international stockists and has won a host of fashion awards, most notably Best Emerging Designer at the GQ Men of the Year Awards last year.

Older brother, Graeme Raeburn is currently lead designer at innovative cycling brand Rapha. After joining as the thirteenth employee, Graeme has overseen partnerships with Team Sky, collaborations with Liberty London and has watched the brand develop from a single warehouse space to an international cult label. More than just a clothing company, Rapha invests in innovation and runs an exclusive cycling club with a global following.

 

A ‘curious’ upbringing

The brothers began by describing a wholesome childhood in the Kentish countryside. While, ‘culturally isolated’ the family enjoyed a simplistic and self-sufficient way of life, which involved time spent outdoors and at air cadets. Encouraged to think practically, Christopher fondly remembered drawing inventions to make with his father during weekends. Both brothers site this nourishing environment as inspiration in their respective careers. For Graeme the irregularity of the country bus led him to a keen interest in cycling. While for Christopher an early fascination with items such as his dad’s old military sleeping bag kick-started his admiration for functional yet ‘fun’ and experimental design.

Keeping it in the family

First Graeme, then Christopher began by studying design at Middlesex University and later completed masters at The Royal College of Art. Following in the footsteps of his brother allowed Christopher to better understand the industry. The pair originally set up Christopher Raeburn together and have since worked on collaborative projects between their respective brands, including The Rapha and Raeburn capsule for AW13. According to Graeme the success of their partnership boils down to a balance in personalities ‘ we cover each others blind spots’. While Christopher is more of a dreamer, Graeme is naturally more down to earth and business minded. The balance of humour, fun and more serious work is key to their symbiotic relationship.

 Humble beginnings

With the help of Graeme, Christopher’s brand was born on the top floor of a friend’s factory in Luton. While the town offered little inspiration, money saved on rent in the early days was key to the viability of the business. The discovery of a team of skilled seamstresses from the recently closed Lutton Hatter’s provided the basis of the workforce and marked the beginning of the brand’s Made in England strategy. Surplus fabrics found in nearby factories helped instil the use of reclaimed materials in Raeburn’s design ethos. Today the brand operates from a newly converted studio in Hackney with a dedicated team of design professionals. While many sustainable brands have struggled to achieve design-led status, Raeburn’s following continues to increase. The combination of intuitive design, creative direction and innovative fabrics has set the label apart from its competitors.

 Its ‘Only f***ing frocks’

Christopher attributes his down to earth attitude to fashion to his friends; people he has known in some cases since primary school. He stressed the importance of getting perspective on the industry and finding a work-life balance. Unlike many brands he does not believe in keeping interns late into the night, instead working to a more resonable 9 – 6:30 schedule.

 Not a trend; the future of sustainability

The final topic of conversation was sustainability; a concept Christopher reminded the audience was ‘in no way new’. The act of preserving garments and minimising waste can be seen in the make-do and mend attitude of the war years and ‘well beyond that’. Often sustainable merits are let down by bad design yet for Raeburn it is the designer’s obligation to provide the audience with a better choice. Christopher expressed hope that in the future sustainability will underpin fashion and come to be synonymous with good design; a feature not necessarily promoted ‘but there’. For Graeme function and beauty are core design values while transparency and honesty remain central to Christopher’s ethos. As resources diminish, the fashion industry is set to go through a cultural transition, with agility and innovation being central to success. Christopher’s final words ‘fabrics, technology and local skill’ need to be harnessed in a new ‘slow fashion’ system.

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Christopher Raeburn X Disney
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Christopher and Graeme Raeburn at Today Studios

 

Invest Love; Stella McCartney talks sustainability at LCF.

For Kering’s third annual talk at London College of Fashion, Frances Corner welcomed the ‘effortlessly cool’ sustainable fashion role model, Stella McCartney to the stage. In conversation with Lucy Siegle, they discussed the responsibility of both designers and consumers in bringing change to the industry.

For Kering’s third annual talk at London College of Fashion, Frances Corner welcomed the ‘effortlessly cool’ sustainable fashion role model, Stella McCartney to the stage. In conversation with Lucy Siegle, they discussed the responsibility of both designers and consumers in bringing change to the industry.

Stella began by sharing her latest innovation; viscose produced sustainably from forests in Sweden. In a short, introductory video we watched Carmen Kass, dressed in an array of luxurious designs tackle the issue of deforestation and make a case for forest conservation. This playful and informative video surmises McCartney’s approach to fashion. Trained at Central Saint Martins, she is first a designer driven by a desire to create the stylish, sharp, sexy and sporty and secondly an activist with a strong commitment to people and the environment. For Stella, ‘the fashionable side has to go hand in hand with the ethical side’. While many sustainable brand’s fastidious attention to environmental standards has led to a compromise in design, the success of Stella can be attributed to her tenacious ability of remaining both desirable and relevant to the fashion elite. She stressed the importance of investing love in the supply chain and being mindful of the challenges fashion production poses while staying true to a design philosophy.

How to prioritise

As a market leader, she explained the difficulties her company face when sourcing materials which are only just becoming available. Stella stressed the importance of prioritising the development of materials which replace those with the most significant environmental impact first. An ethos which placed the use of animal products at top of the agenda. When the brand launched as a vegetarian company the industry laughed and deemed she could never build an accessories line without leather. Even today her non-leather goods incur the same taxes as leather items and cost significantly more to produce.  She expressed concern in the lack of flexibility and growth within the industry which relies heavily on ‘outdated’ design practices. Unlike the food industry which has seen significant growth in ethical and biological markets, fashion remains woefully behind the times. She encouraged brands to ‘think differently’ and to be open to the positive changes innovation and technology can bring. The development of products such as Stella’s line of fake fur jackets are so realistic, in theory, they could eliminate the need for real fur.  Rather than making consumers feel guilty about their purchases, Stella aims to ‘infiltrate from within’ by offering sustainable products so desirable the consumer does not even notice.

53% of Stella McCartney womenswear and 45% of menswear is currently made from sustainable materials, a figure which is set to reach 100% during the lifespan of the brand.

Fast fashion

Stella’s gentle approach to the subject of fast fashion showed an understanding of the difficulties many consumers face when wishing to engage with fashion on a limited budget. She encouraged consumers to ‘come at fashion from a different point of view’, to invest more in a longer period of time and to spend mindfully and responsibly. She invited consumers to ‘challenge the people who make your clothes’ and demand that fashion no longer ‘gets away with murder’. She heralded a shift towards greater product awareness and transparency. As with the food industry, Stella called for clothing to be set to sustainable standards with an ‘ingredients list’.

Dilys Williams summed up Stella McCartney’s mindful approach to fashion with the phrase ‘standing up can be a principle as well as a style’. The event culminated with the announcement of the winners of The Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion 2016; Irene-Marie Seelig, Iciar Bravo Tomboly, Ana Pasalic, Agraj Jain and Elise Comrie. The resounding message for the next generation of designers was; be courageous, be responsible and say something from the heart.