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Copenhagen Fashion Summit


The NICE Consumer Event in Copenhagen opened with the Pre Summit Workshops, a mega brainstorming event aimed at coming up with a set of practical recommendations to be delivered to the EC Commissioner, a sort of road map to integrate more sustainable practises within the textile and fashion industry.

Some of the best and most powerful brains were in attendance and, despite the enormity of the task at hand what was very interesting was that there was absolute agreement throughout all the groups, and we all reached pretty much the same conclusions.

In itself, this was a great result, as it showed a very clear common vision for the future.  The actual Summit was interesting, positive and motivating, if a little bit shallow at times.

It definitely gave me the impression that we are no longer a bunch of lunatics pushing a cannon ball uphill and that the massive struggle we have faced recently is now opening to other players; it all feels more like a game of ball on better terrain.

But I cannot help but feel that the most interesting new players are not the big guys, despite their desire to lead the way in sustainability, but the smaller guys who have embraced it creatively, spontaneously, out of a real sense of responsibility and commitment.

I was supremely inspired by Bruno Pieters’s journey which culminated in his brilliant Honest By concept website, and lapped up every word from Galahad Clark. These presentations were like a breath of fresh air, passionate, funny, intelligent, genuine: whilst some of the more corporate ones felt a bit stifling, a bit studied at the marketing table.

Holly Dublin gave a brilliant presentation, confirming that the whole of PPR, and not just Puma, will publish an Environmental Profit And Loss report which is hugely important. She also spoke about PPR buying a great number of smaller businesses, personally I wish the word had been “support” and not “buy”; H&M will increase on the Conscious Collection, and how I wish that they would do with it what they do with their big designer collaborations (just imagine…Conscious Collection by Christopher Raeburn for H&M being given posters, advertising, etc etc like they did with Versace or David Beckham….) and even the exciting Walmart Patagonia initiative that has become the Coalition for Sustainable Apparel lacks depth in dealing with the reality that smaller producers/manufacturers will not have enough money to be able to afford the stringent auditing required unless there is some kind of governmental help, and therefore will risk being left out of the loop.

But, there WAS dialogue. These issues were raised. The likes of Bruno Pieters and Galahad Clark were heard. Anne Prahl for WGSN did a great job at highlighting young innovators.

It is also true that the likes of Walmart, Gucci, H&M, PPR, representatives from both the high street and the high end, are now willing to implement drastic changes (such as pledging to ban all hazardous chemicals by 2020, following Greenpeace’s brilliant Toxic Campaign), and some big brands are indeed leading the way  – still, had they not behaved quite so irresponsibly over the last 30 odd years, we probably wouldn’t be in this position in the first place.

The highlight of the Summit for me were the Students Recommendations, in particularly the first two: “make memories, not junk”, and “the true cost of clothes”. Just as we had our industry round table workshops the day before the Summit, a group of 100 students from various international universities, inspired by Peter Ingwersen and lead by Dilys Williams, had been doing the same thing from their perspective – and their input I felt was a true reflection on things to come.

They want clothes that they can love, are prepared to pay the price, provided that there is total transparency and no human and environmental cost and loss of dignity in the making.

This sums up the new generation and what should be the new approach.

After all, it takes many different stories to make memories.

And part of these memories is the industry that we once had: quality and pride. Sometimes you need to look back to move forward.

The Summit itself was beautifully organised, a big hand to Jonas …, the weather was spectacular and I think we all felt welcome and nurtured.

From the cozy individual dinner parties the night before the Summit to the Gala dinner designed for us especially by Rene’ Rezepi  at Noma, the whole event was smooth, successful and optimistic.

Is this a reflection of the road ahead? Smooth successful and optimistic? It’s hard to believe it really, but I for one am one step closer to imagining it could be possible.


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