Despite the fact that the cold wet weather in Denmark gave no hint of global warming at all, delegates gathered in the capital’s striking DR concert hall last Thursday for the annual Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the clothing industry’s foremost convention dealing with sustainability and its often less-than-benign impact on the world’s dwindling resources.
Hosted by model-turned-activist Amber Valletta and Monocle magazine’s always urbane and suave Tyler Brulee, the conference is the centrepiece of a whole series of workshops, meetings and events that aimed to both raise awareness of what fashion can and should be doing to help lessen it’s footprint and also act as an exchange of ideas about working together to better the world.
This year the central theme was that of promoting a circular economy – a concept of reusing and recycling that was succinctly and charmingly presented by the first keynote speaker William McDonough, the writer of Cradle to Cradle. Other stand out speakers and discussions included a look at the financial benefits of a circular economy (with talk of man-made diamonds and lab-culture leather), an engaging conversation between conference regular Vanessa Friedman and Michael Kowalski, CEO of Tiffany & Co and a spirited and timely discussion about the role of protest in fashion. More urgently, there was also a rousing call to action from the event’s founder Eva Kruse who expressed disappointment that not enough actual progress had taken place following previous summits. Her words hit home and by the end of the day such fashion giants as Adidas, Marks and Spencer and Inditex had signed a pledge to actively impliment circular strategies and set targets for the next three years.
But maybe the future belongs to the young. In one of the day’s strongest moments, students presented their demands for a cleaner and better world, only to be then invited to New York to be part of the drafting of a UN resolution to tackle the environmental and human impact of the fashion industry. In a time of fear and negativity, the audience left feeling that real change is possible.
Blue carpet: Stephanie Klotz, Eva Kruse (president of Global Fashion Agenda & founder of Copenhagen Fashion Summit) & Lucy Shea
Article by Graham Addinall