Negotiations; Youth Fashion Summit 2017, Day 2

Meeting with industry stakeholders on the second day of Youth Fashion Summit 2017

On the first day we worked in small groups dedicated to one or more of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 to develop fashion specific targets for positive change.  On day 2 it was time to put those targets to the test with industry stakeholders. Each group met in turn with a representative from the luxury sector, the high-street, government, manufacturing and civil society to negotiate their objectives for the future.

The High-street was represented by Hendrik Alpen, Sustainability Business Expert at H&M.

The Luxury Sector was represented by Dax Lovegrove, Global Vice President of Swarovski and Myriam Coudoux, Head of Communications.

The Government was represented by Lars Mortensen, Head of International Cooperation and Partnerships at the European Environment Agency.

Civil Society was represented by Lu Yen Rololf, Communications Lead for ‘Detox My Fashion‘ Campaign at Green Peace.

As part of Flourishing; The Ecological Agenda team, we requested action in four different areas related to Sustainable Development Goals; 13 Climate Action, 14 Life below water and 15 Life on land.

In regards to land use we urged all sectors to work together in the implementation and upscale of alternative ecological materials in substitution of conventional cotton. We requested that by 2030, conventional cotton must be phased out of supply chains. We urged the industry to reduce landfill reliance and invest in recycling technology. This was well received by Hendrik Alpen from H&M, who felt confident these were an achievable target for the High-street. H&M is already on track to reach their personal target of 100% sustainable cotton use by 2020.

When discussing water usage, Dax Lovegrove from Swarovski suggested fashion companies together with manufacturers commit to water stewardship programmes and disclose personal targets for the responsible water consumption.

In order to preserve marine life and protect the health of our oceans from micro-plastic contamination, we also appealed to fashion brands to take the necessary steps to reduce the use of virgin fuel based products by 2030.

We asked companies and manufacturers to the disclose their chemical reduction targets and to comply to frameworks such as the Greenpeace Detox Campaign with the aim of eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals by 2030. We requested the fashion industry move towards a low carbon business model (following Global Climate Action targets set at COP21) and asked companies to publish science based targets for 2022.

We received valuable feedback from all of the stakeholders which enabled us to refine and develop our initial targets into dynamic and achievable objectives. We spent the afternoon condensing this work into a final resolution to present the next day at Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

Something to take away…

Harvard principles for open and honest negotiation…

People – treat people and problems separately

Interests – put interests at the centre of discussion rather than positions

Options – before deciding on solution develop a range of options

Criteria  – build result on objective decision making principles

 

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Drafting a resolution; Youth Fashion Summit 2017, Day 1

Working together with students from around the world to draft the first UN resolution on sustainable fashion practices.

At Youth Fashion Summit 2016, we explored the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and developed a manifesto of demands for the industry regarding a range of ethical concerns; from climate action and pollution to gender inequality and over consumption (read our full report here). After the success of last year, the Global Fashion Agenda and Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (KEA) decided to invite the same students back to transform our initial demands into a fully fledged resolution to present at Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2017.

Day 1

Conscious Luxury

Dax Lovegrove, Global Vice President of Corporate and Social Responsibility at Swaroski opened the event with a key note speech on conscious luxury. He spoke about Swaroski’s vision as a driver of positive change to do more than ‘less harm’. We learnt how to identify and discern between the different layers of impact and how to address each area on an individual basis. From ‘Footprint’- the ecological impact of the fashion industry, to ‘Mind print’- the consumer attitude towards sustainable consumption and finally ‘Political Print’ – how government policy can be used to support unity and positive change within the sector.

Ecological Agenda

We then broke off into smaller groups to review our demands from the previous year. We began developing a concrete action plan and set some initial targets to put to our stakeholders.  We used the Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report created by The Global Fashion Agenda and The Boston Consulting Group to find facts that gave weight to our demands. The report draws on Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index and in-depth surveys of various fashion companies to create a comprehensive guide to the industry’s current environmental and social performance. As part of Flourishing; the ecological agenda team, I worked with Sustainable Development Goals 13,14 & 15 regarding climate action, life below water and life on land.

In the afternoon we worked on a negotiation strategy to use when discussing our demands with industry stakeholders the following day.

Voices from the industry

Scan 4eSusie Lau, fashion blogger and YFS ambassador encouraged us to think about how we can put the knowledge gained from Youth Fashion Summit into practice in our own careers. She emphasised the importance of story telling and making the subject of sustainable fashion more compelling. By referring to ‘alternative’ fashion instead of ‘sustainable’ fashion, Susie suggested we could reach a wider audience by stealth. It is vital mainstream fashion media take greater interest in the subject.

 

Simon Collins, former dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons closed the first day of events with a motivational speech on the role of the designer. Simon explained importance of designers in ‘creating beautiful solutions’ to everyday situations with vision first and strategy second. Simon advised us to focus on creating value rather than profit and to not be afraid of making mistakes.

Something to take away…

The first sentence in our draft resolution;

‘In order for our world to flourish we must protect and restore our natural capital’

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Fashion Revolution Week

Thinking about who made my clothes for Fashion Revolution Week.

For most consumers buying clothes is about choice…

 What style suits me best? Which colour do I prefer? What is it made of? Which size is most flattering? How much will it cost?

 We ask ourselves any number of stylistic questions before arriving at a decision. But the question that is so often forgotten is who made it? Most of the time we don’t stop to ask what life is like for the 75 million people in the global apparel market or how much they are paid.

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This matters because as consumers we hold the power. Every purchase we make says something about what we value. Fashion Revolution week is about raising awareness and empowering individuals to change the way fashion works. By asking brands ‘Who made my clothes?’ we are part of a global movement demanding greater transparency in the fashion supply chain. This is an essential step for improving the lives of people across the fashion landscape, from cotton farmers to garment workers.

 What you can do…

  •  Pressure your favourite brands

Hold them to account for the social and environmental impact of their business. Share the label of a piece of clothing on social media and ask the brand #whomademyclothes?

  • Write to a Politician

Let them know the welfare of the planet and the people making your clothes matters to you.

  • Buy better

Choose fair-trade or second-hand where you can – even if this means buying something more expensive less often.

  • Repair, reinvent, revive

Instead of buying new, try updating something you already own.

Find out more here.

Putting Plans into Action, Edventure Week 3

Business strategy and user research in Week 3 of Edventure Frome’s Start-Up Repair Course.

Making money and making a difference

We began the week with business planning. Johannes and Adam introduced us to three different social enterprise models;

 

EXTERNAL

External: When business and social activities are separate. The business may or may not be related to the social enterprise.

integratedIntegrated: When a business is created as a funding mechanism to expand and enhance a social mission.

embedded1.jpgEmbedded: When a business and social programme are one and the same, i.e. the business was created for a social purpose.

Johannes also presented ‘The Ladder of Social Engagement’, a way of visualising the interest of your target audience.

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Van perfectly summed up the first thought-filled day with the following poem;

Monday

Sunshine beams goals we dream

Tantalizing future visions

Fixing ourselves, through expressive creation

Conversations and well informed talking

Form restless and sleepsome minds

Seeking the clarity of whatever we can achieve

Potential

Harmonious, Contemplative, Potential.

By Van Wajsblum

 

Meeting Gavin Eddy

Gavin is a local entrepreneur who has launched many successful businesses including Forward Space (a series of creative ‘workhubs’ for entrepreneurs) and the Frome Independent Market. We met him on Tuesday to discuss ideas at Forward Space, Frome. It was great to get feedback from someone with such a wealth of local experience and ‘Start-Up’ expertise. He advised us to clearly define our target audience and to consider ways of maintaining interest in our project long-term.

Speaking with Ugo Vallauri

Ugo is the co-founder of The Restart Project, a London-based social enterprise that encourages and empowers people to use their electronics for longer in order to reduce waste. Ugo kindly agreed to discuss the Restart model and our project ambitions with me over the phone. He explained how ‘Restart Parties’ (community based, free electronic repair sessions) reduce the barriers to learning and help people recognise the value in repair. During the conversation he gave me many insights into running successful repair events. He also mentioned the importance of recreating trustworthy relationships with existing repair providers. Read more about Restart’s research on the matter here.

Talking to the public

Throughout the week we developed a questionnaire to ascertain what kind of repair service people would most benefit from. You can read our full questionnaire here and if you are from the local area please take a moment to fill it out. Your input is much appreciated!

Presenting pitch 2

Informed by the week’s findings we presented a preliminary business plan to the Edventure team on Thursday.

Our mission is to launch a socially inclusive workshop space together with an online platform/mobile app focusing on ethical repair. By empowering people through creative skill-shares, we hope to strengthen social bonds, increase practical skills and reduce the amount of perfectly reusable household waste.

Guided by the initial response to our questionnaire we aim to concentrate on 3 avenues;

  • Regular affordable, themed fixing sessions.
  • Weekly, reasonably priced workshop-based classes.
  • An online directory to connect professional and amateur fixers, makers and doers.

Something to take away…

A poem from Van written on Tuesday when it was his turn to make lunch for us all.

The Sushi Situation

Best laid plans mislead big dreams

Unexpected time frames

Not bad for a first try

Saved by an angel and enjoyed by All

Earlier formation of pitch perfect questions

An air of arrival at what we can be

Morning information from a man

With proven know how

Big ideas on a small scale

We must know who they are

The providers, users and sustainers

Of our world

Cater, nurture and help them succeed.

By Van Wajsblum

Fix That Thing; Edventure Week 1

A summary of the first week on the Start-Up Repair Course

What is Edventure?

Edventure is a social enterprise designed to combine education with community-based projects that work for all. As students, over the next ten weeks we will design and launch a repair enterprise that responds to the needs of the local community. With the help of Edventure’s team of expert entrepreneurs, communicators and educators we will learn first hand how to turn an idea into reality.

Find out more about Edventure courses here.

 Why Repair?

Consumer culture has taught us that it is often cheaper and easier to replace broken items than it is to fix them. This throw away mentality has led to an increase in unnecessary waste and a decrease in practical skills.

Extending a products life through repair helps to embed values such as ownership, creativity and problem solving in our material culture. From an environmental perspective it is also more efficient than recycling. For example, 20-30% of the material content of electronic items like phones is currently lost in the recycling process. As well as being ecological, a repair-based culture has the social benefit of connecting members of the local community and encouraging the sharing of skills. Our aim is to create a meaningful repair service that will contribute to a sustainable economy in Frome.

 What we have learnt so far…

 ‘A good idea today is better than a perfect idea tomorrow’

We began the week by sharing our personal stories, a common theme was the sense of being uninspired or let down by the current education system. The prospect of self directed, experiential learning felt exciting and new. During the week we explored where ideas come from and what makes them successful with Johannes and Adam. We met with Cara the Resilience Officer from Frome Town Council and Biz to discuss repair, learnt about communication with Neil and witnessed social enterprise in action at The Men’s Shed.

 Something to take away…

As team we came up with these 6 key ideas for effective teamwork;

  • Let ideas flow
  • Delegate
  • Offer advice
  • Get stuck in
  • Bring an open mind
  • Put things to the test!

Antiform; The Attraction of Opposites

Sustainable fashion is a perplexing subject, for some even an oxymoron. However, as pioneering brands like Antiform prove, this does not have to be the case.

The notion of fashion appears to rely on a framework of aesthetic obsolescence that is at odds with the principles of sustainability. Designers consistently rework and update styles in order to promote fresh sales, causing older garments to become undesirable despite being perfectly fit for purpose. At the heart of the fashion industry, this unsustainable rate of growth and renewal is entirely wasteful, transient and somewhat superficial. Sustainability by contrast is based on concepts of longevity, increased usefulness and the dramatic reduction of waste. Yet if approached in right way, fashion does not need to be unsustainable.

The term fashion revolves around the notion of popularity and time; styles go in and out of fashion, trends appear and die down. Ultimately fashion is about change, which is not an inherently negative or positive concept. In fact, as Stuart Walker puts it “fashion in design fosters creativity and the exploration of new, untried solutions”and thus has great potential to adapt to sustainable principles.

Antiform, founded by Lizzie Harrison in Leeds almost 10 years ago is an excellent example of the versatility of fashion. The brand addresses many of the conflicting issues of sustainability through creative designs and an forward thinking approach to business. Using my experience as a freelance production assistant for Antiform over the last few months, I hope to convince you to buy more sustainably in the future.

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Design Innovation

The traditional role of the designer does not usually involve consideration of the waste created through the design process. Designer’s sketches are often sampled in a separate department by garment technologists employed to recreate the design to strict specifications. This method leaves little margin for increasing the efficiency of the materials used and leads to the creation of waste throughout the supply chain. In contrast, Antiform’s holistic approach to design balances stylistic elements with inventive, waste saving techniques; from zero waste pattern cutting to utilizing remnants in patchworked garments.

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Locally available and reclaimed materials

Most commercial fashion companies conduct their supply chain around the most economical production route on a global scale. For commercial businesses while quality, service and reliability are important factors to consider when choosing suppliers, in this system the direct cost of production and distribution is the main motivating factor. This causes a race to the bottom effect whereby the environmental and human cost is often forgotten about or waylaid in favour of profit.

Small, local level production by contrast enables designers to directly feel and respond to the effects of their business while fostering relationships between communities and materials. Antiform works with reclaimed materials sourced from British Mills and produces each collection in Bristol. Short production runs mean the business can respond quickly to demand and even create unique made-to-order pieces via ‘Antiform x You’; an innovative, bespoke service enabling the customer to take part in the design process by supplying a personal piece of fabric or design idea.

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 A skilled, flexible and diverse team

For most brands success means a commercial agenda that revolves around a continual increase in production, consumption and sales. Alone commercial success in the private sector is not enough to combat the vast, multidisciplinary issues of sustainability. In order to most effectively innovate the industry designers need to diversify and take on new roles across economic sectors. Antiform is run by a team of local designers, researchers and communicators who offer research, consultancy and lecturing work as well as freelance design, sampling and ethical production services. This level of flexibility means the brand does not rely solely on selling product; Antiform has the capacity to teach, facilitate and encourage a more sustainable fashion system as a whole.

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 Community

Antiform is based in a shared studio space with the Bristol Textile Quarter. The room is divided in to small individual workshops that bring together a diverse mix of local artisans and designers working in similarly ethical and environmentally conscious ways. While each business is independently run, there is a sense of the importance of collective success and wellbeing. Ideas are brought together over communal lunches and there is an open approach to the sharing of knowledge, materials, contacts and expertise. In some cases even waste is shared.

This sense of community is essential for creating a new fashion system. It is time to move away from precisely measured systems, based on self-interest and impersonal, anonymous transactions.

Please follow the links to see a few of the incredible artists and brands operating from BTQ;  Tamay and Me, MademyWardrobe, Naomi Wood Photography.

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Invest Love; Stella McCartney talks sustainability at LCF.

For Kering’s third annual talk at London College of Fashion, Frances Corner welcomed the ‘effortlessly cool’ sustainable fashion role model, Stella McCartney to the stage. In conversation with Lucy Siegle, they discussed the responsibility of both designers and consumers in bringing change to the industry.

For Kering’s third annual talk at London College of Fashion, Frances Corner welcomed the ‘effortlessly cool’ sustainable fashion role model, Stella McCartney to the stage. In conversation with Lucy Siegle, they discussed the responsibility of both designers and consumers in bringing change to the industry.

Stella began by sharing her latest innovation; viscose produced sustainably from forests in Sweden. In a short, introductory video we watched Carmen Kass, dressed in an array of luxurious designs tackle the issue of deforestation and make a case for forest conservation. This playful and informative video surmises McCartney’s approach to fashion. Trained at Central Saint Martins, she is first a designer driven by a desire to create the stylish, sharp, sexy and sporty and secondly an activist with a strong commitment to people and the environment. For Stella, ‘the fashionable side has to go hand in hand with the ethical side’. While many sustainable brand’s fastidious attention to environmental standards has led to a compromise in design, the success of Stella can be attributed to her tenacious ability of remaining both desirable and relevant to the fashion elite. She stressed the importance of investing love in the supply chain and being mindful of the challenges fashion production poses while staying true to a design philosophy.

How to prioritise

As a market leader, she explained the difficulties her company face when sourcing materials which are only just becoming available. Stella stressed the importance of prioritising the development of materials which replace those with the most significant environmental impact first. An ethos which placed the use of animal products at top of the agenda. When the brand launched as a vegetarian company the industry laughed and deemed she could never build an accessories line without leather. Even today her non-leather goods incur the same taxes as leather items and cost significantly more to produce.  She expressed concern in the lack of flexibility and growth within the industry which relies heavily on ‘outdated’ design practices. Unlike the food industry which has seen significant growth in ethical and biological markets, fashion remains woefully behind the times. She encouraged brands to ‘think differently’ and to be open to the positive changes innovation and technology can bring. The development of products such as Stella’s line of fake fur jackets are so realistic, in theory, they could eliminate the need for real fur.  Rather than making consumers feel guilty about their purchases, Stella aims to ‘infiltrate from within’ by offering sustainable products so desirable the consumer does not even notice.

53% of Stella McCartney womenswear and 45% of menswear is currently made from sustainable materials, a figure which is set to reach 100% during the lifespan of the brand.

Fast fashion

Stella’s gentle approach to the subject of fast fashion showed an understanding of the difficulties many consumers face when wishing to engage with fashion on a limited budget. She encouraged consumers to ‘come at fashion from a different point of view’, to invest more in a longer period of time and to spend mindfully and responsibly. She invited consumers to ‘challenge the people who make your clothes’ and demand that fashion no longer ‘gets away with murder’. She heralded a shift towards greater product awareness and transparency. As with the food industry, Stella called for clothing to be set to sustainable standards with an ‘ingredients list’.

Dilys Williams summed up Stella McCartney’s mindful approach to fashion with the phrase ‘standing up can be a principle as well as a style’. The event culminated with the announcement of the winners of The Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion 2016; Irene-Marie Seelig, Iciar Bravo Tomboly, Ana Pasalic, Agraj Jain and Elise Comrie. The resounding message for the next generation of designers was; be courageous, be responsible and say something from the heart.