November 30, 2021

What Copenhagen Fashion Summit was all about

4 min read

CFS+ 2021, the digital edition of Copenhagen Fashion Summit, an international forum dedicated to sustainability organized by the non-profit organization Global Fashion Agenda, took place on October 7-8, 2021, and brought together various fashion stakeholders, policymakers, NGOs and investors with the goal to drive urgent action on sustainability.

This year’s online event was centered around the theme “Prosperity vs. Growth” and underlined how fashion can no longer operate “business as usual” and how the current growth model is pushing the planet and people to its limits.

According to Global Fashion Agenda’s Fashion On Climate report, in 2018 the fashion industry accounted for 4% of global carbon emissions–an emissions share larger than that of France, Germany and the UK combined.

According to the European Environment Agency, the textile industry is the fourth-highest pressure category in terms of resource consumption (after food, housing and transport).

This year’s Summit’s action is focused on over 20 discussion topics including innovation vs. legacy, consumer vs. citizen, value vs. volume, scale vs. circular, and equity vs. equality. It also explored how the fashion’s growth trajectory needs to change to preserve the environment and protect societies.

The two-day digital session included over 60 speakers, along with Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Federica Marchionni, CEO, Global Fashion Agenda. Various personalities participated in the event including Tommy Hilfiger, principal designer, Tommy Hilfiger Global, and managers from Ralph Lauren Corporation, Hermès International; Patagonia, Inc., Nike, Patagonia, Ganni and others.

Here are some key quotes from the two days….

Federica Marchionni, CEO, Global Fashion Agenda
“Most business growth is still predicated on more people buying more goods, but these current business models are unsustainable, putting immense strain on our planet and people. It is necessary that companies innovate new business models that deliver true stakeholder value, shape consumers’ needs in line with planetary boundaries, protect biodiversity, and promote safe work environments and better wage systems.”

Federica Marchionni, CEO, Global Fashion Agenda

Photo: Global Fashion Agenda

Federica Marchionni, CEO, Global Fashion Agenda

Virginijus Sinkevičius, commissioner for the environment, oceans and fisheries, at the European Commission on the EU strategy for sustainable textiles
“As a sector, it’s in your interest to become more resilient and more resistant to global shocks. This is the thinking behind the European Green Deal. The new drive for a different form of growth–more sustainable, carbon-neutral, kinder to nature and built around the circular economy… The circular transformation will touch the whole of the society, and I’m sure textiles will play a major role in the process.”

Tommy Hilfiger, principal designer, Tommy Hilfiger Global
“We want to be leaders, and we want to set great examples, and the more knowledge we have about how people are thinking and about how they are feeling and what is going on in the world of pop culture, the more informed we are and therefore, the better we are going to be at what we do.”

Patrice Louvet, president and CEO, Ralph Lauren Corporation
“We can create value for all stakeholders and a deeper connection with employees, more compelling stories for our customers, and a more resilient business overall when we integrate sustainability into everything that we do.”

Felicia Mayo, chief talent, diversity and culture officer, Nike Inc
“Creating an equitable future for all begins with recognizing the intersection of climate and community. In order for our planet to thrive, we must continue to address people and planet, together.”

Olivier Fournier, executive vice-president corporate development and social affairs, Hermès International
“We should not talk about innovation without talking about freedom of creation, because freedom of creation is at the core of our strategy, as we need a strong link and a dialogue between the creators and the makers, to make sustainable objects.”

Jenna Johnson, head of Patagonia, Inc
“If we can get companies to make less, what that means ultimately is the onus becomes on buying higher quality and companies committing to quality and durability at the heart of what they do.”

Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark

Photo: Global Fashion Agenda

Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark

HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, patron of Copenhagen Fashion Summit and Global Fashion Agenda
“When picturing a post-pandemic fashion industry, inspiration can also be found within existing tools and technologies that will move from idea to reality and from pilots to wide-scale adoption. However, in a time when new technology is disrupting traditional business models, and upcoming legislation will increase regulation in the industry, businesses and organizations need to think and act differently when it comes to ‘growth’, business models and systemic change. Redesigning the concept of growth is one of the biggest systemic issues of our time.”

Tim Jackson, director, Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP), University of Surrey
“My exploration of post-growth is the idea of thinking about a situation where our economies are maybe more dedicated to what it means to flourish in human terms and less dedicated to just chasing after continual economic expansion and continual growth the whole time.”

Debbie Shakespeare, senior director sustainability, compliance and core product line, Avery Dennison RBIS
“Consumers have become mindful of their choices, calling for more sustainable, transparent and traceable garments across the supply chain. In order to prosper from this, it is no longer a one-sided equation. All industry actors need to move from policies to action in addressing environmental and economic actions for the full supply chain. This will require collaboration, innovation, and dialogue moving to action.”

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