Earlier this month, Founder and Director of Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN), Patricia Jurewicz, attended the fourth biannual Copenhagen Fashion Summit, a culmination of a week’s worth of panels, meetings, and discussions on sustainable fashion. The Summit, held on May 12th in the beautiful Copenhagen Concert Hall, was organized by the Danish Fashion Institute on behalf of the Nordic Fashion Association under the patronage of HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. The event, themed “Responsible Innovation”, brought over 1200 people from 52 countries, ranging from industry experts to government officials.
Two long-time leaders in the industry spoke at the Summit, Rick Ridgeway of Patagonia and Hannah Jones of Nike. Rick described the four R’s that inspired Patagonia’s Worn Wear program: Repair, Recycle, Resell, and Reduce – the last of which he dubbed an “inconvenient truth” for the fashion industry. Hannah made an impassioned call for a complete overhaul of the industry’s current sustainability practices, asserting that “incrementalism and efficiency measures will not get us there; less bad is not good enough”. She emphasized the importance of sustainable innovation at the molecular level of the industry, explaining that “for sustainability to be transformative, it must be built in to what we create and how we design from the very beginning”.
Perhaps the most memorable presentation of the day came from the Youth Fashion Summit, a group of 116 fashion and business students from 40 different countries. In the 3 days prior to the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, these students worked to determine how to implement the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals into the fashion industry. The students drafted a Manifesto of 7 Demands for The Fashion Industry. The demands echoed the speakers’ calls for closed-loop systems within all facets of the industry and elimination of unnecessary harm in product creation. In essence, their message was that the youth will have to clean up the current industry’s mess, and so the current industry heads better start dealing with the mess they created now. The Manifesto underlined the clear urgency and necessity of putting into place all of the possible innovations discussed at the Summit.
The 2016 Copenhagen Fashion Summit, while full of brilliant minds and innovative ideas, is only one of many steps needed to create a wholly sustainable fashion industry. Getting high profile people of the industry in one room to discuss these issues is impressive, but now we must focus on making these innovations the rule rather than the exception. RSN is doing its part in this effort by looking to disrupt the opaque cotton value chain by developing a new initiative called YESS: Yarn Ethically and Sustainably Sourced. Please join us in not only demanding transparency and accountability, but by supporting a tool that will help eliminate cotton harvested with modern day slavery.
For more information on the 2016 Summit, check out these links:
The Youth Fashion Summit presents their Manifesto to industry leaders.