Working together with students from around the world to draft the first UN resolution on sustainable fashion practices.
At Youth Fashion Summit 2016, we explored the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and developed a manifesto of demands for the industry regarding a range of ethical concerns; from climate action and pollution to gender inequality and over consumption (read our full report here). After the success of last year, the Global Fashion Agenda and Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (KEA) decided to invite the same students back to transform our initial demands into a fully fledged resolution to present at Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2017.
Dax Lovegrove, Global Vice President of Corporate and Social Responsibility at Swaroski opened the event with a key note speech on conscious luxury. He spoke about Swaroski’s vision as a driver of positive change to do more than ‘less harm’. We learnt how to identify and discern between the different layers of impact and how to address each area on an individual basis. From ‘Footprint’- the ecological impact of the fashion industry, to ‘Mind print’- the consumer attitude towards sustainable consumption and finally ‘Political Print’ – how government policy can be used to support unity and positive change within the sector.
We then broke off into smaller groups to review our demands from the previous year. We began developing a concrete action plan and set some initial targets to put to our stakeholders. We used the Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report created by The Global Fashion Agenda and The Boston Consulting Group to find facts that gave weight to our demands. The report draws on Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index and in-depth surveys of various fashion companies to create a comprehensive guide to the industry’s current environmental and social performance. As part of Flourishing; the ecological agenda team, I worked with Sustainable Development Goals 13,14 & 15 regarding climate action, life below water and life on land.
In the afternoon we worked on a negotiation strategy to use when discussing our demands with industry stakeholders the following day.
Voices from the industry
Susie Lau, fashion blogger and YFS ambassador encouraged us to think about how we can put the knowledge gained from Youth Fashion Summit into practice in our own careers. She emphasised the importance of story telling and making the subject of sustainable fashion more compelling. By referring to ‘alternative’ fashion instead of ‘sustainable’ fashion, Susie suggested we could reach a wider audience by stealth. It is vital mainstream fashion media take greater interest in the subject.
, former dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons closed the first day of events with a motivational speech on the role of the designer. Simon explained importance of designers in ‘creating beautiful solutions’ to everyday situations with vision first and strategy second. Simon advised us to focus on creating value rather than profit and to not be afraid of making mistakes.
Something to take away…
The first sentence in our draft resolution;
‘In order for our world to flourish we must protect and restore our natural capital’
Thinking about who made my clothes for Fashion Revolution Week.
For most consumers buying clothes is about choice…
What style suits me best? Which colour do I prefer? What is it made of? Which size is most flattering? How much will it cost?
We ask ourselves any number of stylistic questions before arriving at a decision. But the question that is so often forgotten is who made it? Most of the time we don’t stop to ask what life is like for the 75 million people in the global apparel market or how much they are paid.
This matters because as consumers we hold the power. Every purchase we make says something about what we value. Fashion Revolution week is about raising awareness and empowering individuals to change the way fashion works. By asking brands ‘Who made my clothes?’ we are part of a global movement demanding greater transparency in the fashion supply chain. This is an essential step for improving the lives of people across the fashion landscape, from cotton farmers to garment workers.
What you can do…
- Pressure your favourite brands
Hold them to account for the social and environmental impact of their business. Share the label of a piece of clothing on social media and ask the brand #whomademyclothes?
Let them know the welfare of the planet and the people making your clothes matters to you.
Choose fair-trade or second-hand where you can – even if this means buying something more expensive less often.
Instead of buying new, try updating something you already own.
Find out more here.