June 22, 2021

Discover the hottest topics of The Fashion CEO Agenda 2021

6 min read

Published annually since 2018, the Fashion CEO Agenda is a guide aimed at executives operating within the fashion industry that’s meant to suggest how to pursue holistic sustainability strategies.

The publication is co-authored by Global Fashion Agenda’s partners–Asos, Bestseller Group, Fung Group, H&M Group, Kering, Nike, PVH, Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Target–and is designed to encourage and guide the fashion industry to take action. It aims to inform about global developments and suggest how leaders can play an active role in accelerating more sustainable practices, follow specific business models and improve industry performance.

Global Fashion Agenda is a forum for industry collaboration and public-private cooperation on fashion sustainability.

This year’s publication was launched on May 12 and presents the priorities that leaders should focus on for achieving a more sustainable and prosperous industry and how to operate through internal and external enablers for enhancing their sustainability strategies.

The SPIN OFF selected some statements collected within a press preview that disclosed the main themes of this year’s edition. The event hosted Morten Lehmann, chief sustainability officer, Jonas Eder Hansen, public affairs director, and Sandra Gonza, project manager, Global Fashion Agenda; Camilla Skjønning Jørgensen, sustainability materials and innovation manager, Bestseller; Hana Kajimura, sustainability manager, Allbirds; and Nin Castle, head of recycling and chief project officer, Reverse Resources, a trading and tracking platform for textile waste.

Morten Lehmann, chief sustainability officer, Global Fashion Agenda:
“We have a vision. Sustainability must be fashion’s first priority as without this focus a company cannot be successful in the future.”

Morten Lehmann, chief sustainability officer, Global Fashion Agenda

Photo: Global Fashion Agenda

Morten Lehmann, chief sustainability officer, Global Fashion Agenda

“Our industry, in order to be a driving industry, has to create prosperity from a financial perspective but also for the benefit of people and planet. For this, this year we are launching our new framework focused on five priorities. They are: respectful and secure work environments, better wage systems, circular systems, efficient use of resources and smart material choices.”

“Fashion is primarily produced in a linear system of ‘take, make, dispose,’ with 73% of the world’s clothing eventually ending up in landfills. If textile collection rates were tripled by 2030, it could be worth more than €4 billion for the world economy. This figure merely represents the value of those products that would not end up in landfills. If the industry were to find a way to collect and recycle all fibers, the value could be up to €80 billion.”

Jonas Eder Hansen, public affairs director, Global Fashion Agenda:
“Two months ago the European Parliament voted for new EU laws. Despite they are not entirely defined yet, they oblige companies to follow an environmentally friendly conduct within the value chain. Policymakers can help improve our industry especially in the EU through a broad series of initiatives, like, for instance in material choices, or measuring the environmental footprint of products. Though, as there are too many methodologies and labels, it’s their task to make sure that everybody follows the same method in measuring products’ and raw materials’ environmental footprint.”

Jonas Eder Hansen, public affairs director, Global Fashion Agenda

Photo: Global Fashion Agenda

Jonas Eder Hansen, public affairs director, Global Fashion Agenda

“For the first time, European policy requires Member States to organize the separate collection of post-consumer textile waste by 2025. Yet, many of today’s products are designed with neither durability nor recyclability in mind.”

Camilla Skjønning Jørgensen, sustainable materials & innovation manager, Bestseller:
“What we are aiming for here is to change the fashion industry into a better one. In the end, hopefully, we need to change the fundamental structure, and we need to do it from the bottom. We need to start from raw materials, from the supply chain and the circular infrastructure. It’s a very complex journey, and we can only achieve it when we are together. We shall also remember this is not a race and there is not a winner. The only winner is the finish line. That’s why we need collaborative initiatives. And it’s by operating not just from a brand’s perspective but from a supply chain’s one. What we are trying to achieve is to walk and work together involving the different stakeholders.”

Camilla Skjønning Jørgensen, sustainable materials & innovation manager, Bestseller

Camilla Skjønning Jørgensen, sustainable materials & innovation manager, Bestseller

“The most important external enabler is legislation. It’s great what EU legislation is starting. When we are struggling in order to be sustainable or act fairly–especially in a commercial market–every action is more expensive and requires more resources. It requires a company to take its responsibility really seriously. For instance, if you require a sustainable material it requires a regenerative process, it requires to be certified, and it has a cost. And it’s also a risk as you need to do it correctly; you need to communicate it properly and that requires an investment. If a company uses conventional materials, nobody asks questions, it doesn’t require any certification, therefore it’s much cheaper and much easier to achieve as it simply does what it has always done. But that has tremendous costs for people and planet. Instead, if you aim to act fairly you need to invest more in people, raw materials, process controlling and similar aspects. That’s why a proper legislation is so important. I think it’s the most important enabler we need to have in place.”

“Bestseller has a vast brand portfolio and product offer. For this we have set up what we have called the Fashion Forward Lab, a playground where we experiment what we do in the fashion industry and where we allow ourselves to be beginners and not be perfect. It’s where we interact with innovators, look for new solutions, try to achieve new positive choices with our designers and try to educate people in making better decisions in terms of materials and design. It’s also the place where we speak about the future and make sure we create an infrastructure for the waste we generate. Furthermore, it’s about connecting with different people to create a synergy for reaching the solutions we are striving for.”

Hana Kajimura, sustainability manager, Allbirds:
“Natural materials are our mission and at the heart of what we want to do from day one. Petroleum and fossil fuels are really out of our industry as we are looking mostly for renewable materials. It’s progress over production. Our strategy is on a portfolio of low-carbon emission products and increasing our natural content. It’s in the journey of learning all this that everyone gets smarter.”

Hana Kajimura, sustainability manager, Allbirds

Hana Kajimura, sustainability manager, Allbirds

“If we want to change and transform the industry we have to start from the ground up and reinvent the way we have done things. For this, we have to focus on small tweaks of business model. For instance, Allbirds was born five years ago, and a couple of things are really different about our business model as we are a vertically integrated brand and company, and we sell directly to our customers. We are not going through wholesale, and don’t enter in retail channels. This helps to cope with inventory and similar aspects, and we can invest in our material choices. Another key aspect is that we only have had one shoe model for the first couple of years, we don’t have seasons, inventory stays classic, and we offer timeless shoes and timeless design which can help us to build a different business model.”

Nin Castle, co-founder, lead of recycling and chief project officer, Reverse Resources:
“A prosperous industry would be one that allows every single actor all around the value chain to benefit rather than a few. I believe there is a wish and a lot of progress in this area.”

Nin Castle, co-founder, lead of recycling and chief project officer, Reverse Resources

Nin Castle, co-founder, lead of recycling and chief project officer, Reverse Resources

“We are all in this together, even if we don’t interact directly with the consumer, we are all very much all linked together. Anytime that brands collaborate together is a good sign. As factories don’t produce for a single brand but for multiple brands, bringing people together is a really important part of this supply chain.”

“It’s important to focus on traceability and visibility. We care for waste flows, which is a bit against what the public angle is, because consumers are much more aware of their waste, but have no clear idea of what industrial waste is. It’s much easier communicating about a big circular and recycling story that also the consumer can understand and appreciate. Industrial waste doesn’t always sound that sexy, but it’s clearly the first place to start in terms of the supply chain.”

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