By Ieva Zu
Having worked with emerging fashion designers from different corners of the world, we have witnessed the struggles and problems designers face when trying to grow their business internationally or to become a well-known fashion player. Nevertheless, over 90% of the brands we work with strive to be transparent, and eventually sustainable fashion businesses.
Often, small brands and independent designers are unaware of the steps they can take to become a sustainable fashion brand freeing themselves of the burden fashion industry can bring, separating their brand names from an evil image of the fast fashion and the negative impact fashion industry has been making on the environment, animals and humans.
I say, today is a perfect day to start (or stop). And there are ways to measure, implement and change your fashion brand.
Sweatshop-free and human friendly. One of the most obvious criteria for the fashion brands we represent – they have to make sure that their closest supply-chain is sweatshop-free. Ideally, a brand will know where their materials come from, at least they will know where and who make their clothes or accessories. Fortunately, small and independent brands work with small or independent manufacturers and/or have their own production studios. Sometimes unconsciously, they collect good karma points by not being a part of the fast fashion slavery. I have spoken a lot about fast fashion evil dos and the importance of fashion transparency. Being a part of the fashion industry, I believe, it’s the least I can do.
Mother Earth friendly. This second crucial ingredient of a sustainable fashion brand is complex and multifaceted. The supply-chain is an endless circle. The sooner we understand it, the easier it will be to be a part of the change. A Circular fashion was a term often used at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the largest annual fashion sustainability forum, created by Eva Kruse, that just ended last week. Supply chain starts with a sourcing of raw materials, or better, laboratory grown materials, and never ends, ideally. How come?
There might be parts of your supply chain that are difficult to control as a small brand (it requires commitment), such as the origin of raw materials. However, there are parts of the fashion life circle that you, as a brand, can help to control by becoming a part of the Global Fashion Agenda. Sounds exciting? And it definitely is! A newly launched GFA is an initiative by the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in collaboration with strategic partners luxury conglomerate Kering, H&M and Target. It’s ultimate goal is to ‘steer industry leaders towards concrete commitments, for a world beyond next season.’
Global Fashion Agenda is inviting all fashion brands and retailers to become a part of the circular fashion system by officially committing to achieve concrete personal business goals by 2020. A call to action is a step-by-step guide on what to do to become a leader in the circular fashion system. It involves four simple steps: design for cyclability (recyclable), increase the volume of used garments collected, increase the volume of used items resold, increase usability of recycled textiles. That’s a short version. The long version is available on the CFS website and it requires you to officially commit by signing the official document and committing to publicly release your goals and results.
Copenhagen Fashion Summit attendees, more than 800 of them, have committed to a change, big or small, famous or not. It’s time for you to become a part of the change. If you are not convinced, here are some of the names who attended this year’s summit. Tiffany & Co’s CEO Michael Kowalski (remember a recent infamous ad at the New York Times by the diamond industry giant?); Miroslava Duma, a Russian entrepreneur-turned-silicon valley investor; Livia Firth, founder of the Green Carpet Awards and a wife of a Hollywood actor, the Firth; model Amber Valetta; designer Eileen Fisher; Princes Mary of Denmark; and all the major fashion companies, many of them, from H&M and Asos to Adidas and luxury conglomerate Kering group.
We are keen to hear about your commitment! Share it with the world on Social Media, tagging @fashionbloc and adding a hashtag #circularfashion to your post and we will share it with our followers! Don’t forget to share your progress as well.
And if you need any help at all, we are here to support you.