Last week, Copenhagen Fashion Summit was back yet another year, celebrating their 10-year anniversary as the leading event dedicated to promoting sustainability in the fashion industry.
The event works as a matchmaker for brands and solutions providers and a guide to implementing sustainability, beyond all the catwalks and haute couture. The Copenhagen Fashion Summit has, with their pioneering vision of rewriting the entire fashion system, managed to shine a light on the best practices of sustainability.
This annual event has managed to increase awareness but also to bring actual results. It is easy to forget what these ten years have actually brought, so BLANC did some digging to recap the past decade along with some predictions of what the future of fashion holds! And if you didn’t manage to get your hands on a ticket or if flying to Copenhagen was simply not going to fit into your schedule, don’t you worry: we’ve summarised the key takeaways from this year’s event just for you!
5 Highlights From The Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2019
Fashion leaders, CEOs, policymakers and innovators gathered from all corners of the world to demand urgent action and together push the fashion industry in the right direction. This year’s event attracted around 1,300 guests along with 78 inspiring speakers talking about climate change, the end of ownership, the power of creatives and many other exciting subjects. These are this year’s best highlights
1. A truly applaud-worthy event was the Innovation Forum - the many obstacles to a more sustainable fashion require many solutions! This is where all the sustainable and creative solutions are presented and where participating companies get equipped with all the right tools to turn words into action.
2. The Summit’s two days resulted in over 600 business meetings between companies and solution providers - should be enough to make some pretty impactful changes!
3. Global Fashion Agenda dropped this year’s Pulse Score (a sustainability performance score to measure companies’ sustainability goals and implementation efforts) which ended up being better than last year with 42/100 (vs 38 last year). Things are moving slowly, but at least they are moving forward!
4. Several companies, big and small, released their new sustainability practices and pledged to make them happen. Here are some of BLANC’s favourites:
Google and Stella McCartney revealed an upcoming partnership to assess the environmental impact that the fashion industry has. Using data analytics and machine learning on Google Cloud, Google is developing a tool that gives brands a chance to, on a much higher level, look into their supply chain.
CEO and Chairman of top luxury fashion house Kering, François-Henri Pinault reported that he has been tasked by French president Emmanuel Macron to gather the most influential CEOs of the most prestigious fashion houses and set the targets for sustainability in fashion for the years to come.
Nike, which holds one of the signatures of Global Fashion Agenda’s 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment, presented their Circular Design Workbook for everyone to take part in. The goal for this workbook is to create a common starting point for designers to decide how a circular fashion system looks.
EURATEX (European Apparel and Textile Confederation), Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI), Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), International Apparel Federation (IAF) and Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) have joined forces and created a new manifesto where the end goal is to make EU policymakers take action in shaping a circular fashion system.
5. Among the 78 high-level speakers, a few touched our hearts and reminded us that together we can make a meaningful change.e got especially motivated by these brilliant leaders:
“Profit cannot continue to be the primary measure of success, sustainability needs to be the core priority” - Mary Elizabeth, Crown Princess of Denmark
"Thanks to its business model, the luxury industry has the means to play a crucial role in sustainability. I want our innovative solutions to be open sourced for the whole industry to implement." - Francois-Henri Pinault, Chairman & CEO of Kering
"Our industry is highly competitive. But there is a huge benefit to competing on the same playing field. We need to increase transparency as we move forward." Emanuel Chirico, Chairman and CEO, PVH Corp
"Sustainability needs to be a non-competitive area. Working with open source, using our experience and making sure we don't compete." Anna Gedda, Head of Sustainability, H&M Group
"We have to call for bold leadership. There are so many existing solutions but we need to push them even further and we also need to be supported by the policymakers." – the last action, inspiring words from the CEO of Global Fashion Agenda, Eva Kruse as she concluded the Summit.
“Profit cannot continue to be the primary measure of success, sustainability needs to be the core priority”
What The Summit Has Achieved The Past Ten Years
Copenhagen has, since 2009, been the gathering point for the fashion industry’s most influential decision-makers and is seen as the beacon of sustainable innovation. The Global Fashion Agenda, which organises the event, aims to reshape the fashion system. Changing an entire industry takes quite a lot of time - as we can see ourselves on a smaller scale with dry cleaning! - but things are definitely going in the right direction. When first hosting the event 10 years ago, very few industry leaders were aware of the importance of changing the fashion industry. Luckily, many more of them have now understood that the system needs to change, and some have started to integrate sustainable solutions into their business models.
Multiple innovative and sustainable solutions have, at the Summit, been presented and implemented throughout the years: from fabrics made out of pineapple and apple skin to renewable fibre technology. President and CEO of The Global Fashion Agenda, Eva Kruse, stated that seeing the much stronger commitment today is truly incredible but that the journey comes with a lot of headwinds. Much has changed for the better in the past decade but along the way more challenges have also popped up.
In later years the Copenhagen Fashion Summit has grown more than ever, and not only has it grown, it has changed. The focus has gradually shifted from creating awareness to making sustainability pledges turn into action. At the summit in 2017, Eco Age’s founder Livia Firth spoke about the fact that immediate action did not seem to be on most CEOs’ agendas. To have sustainability goals set up on the company website is not the same as taking action. Since then, the Copenhagen Fashion Summit has urgently called all fashion brands around the world to act towards becoming more circular and responsible. The Global Fashion Agenda created a ‘Call To Action’ in the form of a report in 2017: The Pulse of Fashion, which annually checks the ‘health’ of the industry. It was signed by high street giants such as H&M, Asos, Adidas and Kering who promised to make sustainable progress by 2020.
What the Future of Fashion Will Hold
Sustainability has gone from being a buzzword to becoming a thriving movement and fashion brands, whether they like it or not, are on a journey to adapt. The fast fashion model is outdated and has quite frankly had its five minutes in the spotlight, as have the brands unwilling to change. To close the loop of fashion, companies will have to adopt a business model that respects the planetary boundaries, and some already have. Several brands (and counting!), such as Re-Fashion and our partners over at HURR Collective have all implemented innovative yet sustainable business models in favour of our precious planet - just like us at BLANC, they walk the talk, and we love it!
The fight against fast fashion has also led to the rise of ethical consumerism, more people are becoming aware of the environmental and social issues which the fashion industry causes. According to the UK’s Ethical Consumer Markets Report 2018, 49% of people under 24 have avoided a product or service due to its negative impact on the planet in the last year - it’s the little things that make the big things happen! This change in consumer behaviour has brought about change in the secondhand market, which is clearly on the rise: according to ThredUp, fashion resale is growing 24 times faster than the retail industry as a whole. Selling preloved clothes prolongs their lifespan and prevents them from eventually ending up in landfill.
There is also an increasing amount of rental platforms out there. A business model where ownership is not the end goal may seem a bit strange at first, but once you get used to the thought it is actually quite the opposite. We rent movies, music and subscription services all the time, so why not our clothes? Recent studies show that we only wear 20% of the clothes in our wardrobes. Renting them instead would not only close the case of overconsumption but it means that we could wear new clothes without the environmental cost - and we are not saying no to that! Another exciting sustainable solution which has created a lot of buzz is new sustainable fabrics. Especially the ones made from plants, such as TENCEL™ which is made from eucalyptus fibres, which you can read more about in our recent blog post “Tips To Care For Your Bed Linen”, or Piñatex®, made from pineapple leaf fibre. At BLANC, we strongly believe that the key is to make fashion circular, where textiles are naturally and responsibly manufactured, old clothes are turned into new ones and fast fashion becomes slow.