Commitment to Change; Youth Fashion Summit 2017, day 3

On the final day of YFS we presented the final draft of our UN fashion resolution at Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Copenhagen Fashion Summit serves as a platform for all areas of the industry to meet and discuss the ever pressing issue of sustainability in fashion. The event was led by inspirational speakers from leading NGOs such as Green Peace and experts on circularity such as William McDonough, author of Cradle to Cradle and Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The theme of this year was Commitment to Change with a focus on creating ‘common understanding and industry-wide commitment on the most critical issues facing our industry and planet’.

Our resolution addressed each of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and covered areas including education, well being and civic empowerment as well as circularity, transparency and pollution. Following our presentation (which you can read in full below) Lise Kingo, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Impact invited us to present our resolution at the UN Global Compact Leader Summit in New York during the UN General Assembly. Kingo emphasised the need for a future where “sustainable business is mainstream business” and reminded us of our responsibility as future fashion leaders “to write the playbook for the next steps the industry needs to take today, to create the world for tomorrow”.

It was an honour to present our resolution on stage alongside thought leaders like Lise Kingo, Eileen Fisher and Livia Firth and I hope our resolution will help others in the industry wake-up to the urgent for change. From the all the speakers, the message I took from the summit was the time for action is now.

Read our full resolution below;

1. Expects the fashion industry to begin immediately working with non-profit initiatives and government groups to reduce inequality, alleviate poverty and ensure food security, with progress made by 2030, including through:

(a) helping to reduce inequality by reinvesting 0,7% of annual sales to support local manufacturing communities;

b) providing all workers with access to free health insurance, day care facilities, a meal a day and professional training;

c) suggesting governments and industry leaders enforce sustainable agricultural practices to help ensure food security by increasing the share of organic polyculture farming by 50%;

2. Urges all stakeholders in the fashion industry to establish global and local partnerships to make the world a more equitable, just and peaceful place, by:

(a) requesting all stakeholders to collaborate on breaking existing barriers between people, companies and member states to enable a flow of sustainable progress;

(b) welcoming the UN to develop a full sustainability report by 2020 that provides a holistic evaluation of the fashion industry, measuring performance not only in relation to monetary value;

(c) encouraging the UN to facilitate the implementation of a third-party organ by 2025 to monitor the status of collaboration between stakeholders related to the fashion industry;

(d) insisting that fashion stakeholders fully commit to a standardized performance system, by 2025;

3. Compels relevant stakeholders to strengthen the human bond, from maker to wearer, through education and changing the mindsets of producers and consumers by:

(a) requiring fashion companies to provide on company websites, labels, social media, and in reports transparent information per garment of each step in the whole supply chain by 2030;

(b) demanding manufacturers to empower workers by prioritizing educational activities regarding labor rights, personal financial growth, leadership, and worker representation in 10% collective ownerships;

(c) encouraging the UN to facilitate an interactive platform in at least five languages, bringing people together to take action against inequality by participating in online courses and webinars, involving industry leaders, government, organizations and companies;

4. Requests stakeholders to protect and restore our natural capital by:

(a) implementing ecological systems and recycling technologies throughout the value chain by substituting conventional cotton, reducing landfills, and eliminating textile waste in the fashion sector by 2030;

(b) encouraging fashion companies and manufacturers to immediately commit to water stewardship programs and to disclose personal targets for the same, to protect life below water from microplastic contamination, aiming to eliminate all virgin plastic by 2030;

(c) insisting that brands and governments support manufacturers and producers in eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals and materials, complying with the Greenpeace Detox Campaign to reduce pesticide use by 50% by 2022, achieving total elimination by 2030;

5. Calls on the entire fashion industry and the involved member states to lead the global preservation of and access to freshwater for all by 2025 through intensified research and investment in innovative technologies by:

(a) reducing water pollution and the release of harmful chemicals by 50% in 2025 and by 100% in 2030;

(b) introducing closed-loop water recycling legislation on a government level;

(c) implementing shared value community water management in collaboration with governments, NGOs, industries, and local communities, as well as stressing the urgency and awareness of these issues through education provided by member states and the fashion industry;

6. Obliges stakeholders to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement, ensuring that, by 2030, 100% of the total energy used in the fashion supply chain will be renewable energy by:

(a) inviting all member states to ensure renewable energy practices by encouraging public and private partnerships throughout the fashion supply chain, reaching a binding commitment agreed upon by 2018;

(b) requesting that all organizations’ energy consumption statistics be published for public access;

(c) requiring the entire fashion supply chain to set in place the necessary infrastructure and encourage innovation to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency; In commitment to our future,

7. Appeals to all stakeholders to invest in recycling technology and infrastructure with the aim to transition to circular mindsets and systems in fashion production by:

(a) encouraging all member states to adopt already existing technologies to collect and process commercial and industrial textile waste By 2022;

(b) investing in a platform to share information, facilities, and resources to provide guidelines and tools to enable a holistic circular system for all stakeholders in the fashion industry by educating them about circular strategies and solutions by 2020.

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Vivienne Westwood at Cheltenham Literature Festival

Self proclaimed Queen of Punk, Dame Vivienne Westwood did not disappoint in bringing rebellious views to the table at this years Cheltenham Literature Festival. Here to promote her new book Get a Life, a diary style biography compiled of blog posts she began in 2010. The book entwines her deep interest in fashion, climate change and activism.

Political from the first Westwood began by asking for our help. She reminded the audience that climate change is each of our responsibility and as a collective we can begin a climate revolution. The first step, according to the dame herself is to fill out a letter to Theresa May (handed out pre-show) with advice on how she could be more environmental in her daily life.

Westwood’s main priority has been communicating the threat of climate change with fashion shows becoming an avenue to creatively express frustrations. Her talk similarly centred on her views of the ‘rotten financial system’ and the injustice of 1m controlling a population of 7bn. Focusing on the selfish nature of ‘rotten’ politicians who ‘serve central banks and promote big business’ at the expense of the tax payer and corrupt foreign policy which says ‘fuck everybody but us’.

Westwood urged her audience to go home and switch to green energy, highlighting in a slick info graphic the impact rising temperature will have on the level of inhabitable land. She claimed ‘once the rising temperature goes beyond the tipping point it will run away to +5°, there will be only 1 bn people left by the 21st century’.

Provocative and outspoken as always Vivienne Westwood conveyed her passion for the planet and the people in it. While it is difficult to agree with all of her hard lined views on the ‘wasted lives’ of politicians, hearing her talk with such vigour and energy after five decades in the fashion industry was a good reminder of the capacity each of us has to make a difference. As Kirsty Wark eloquently put it ‘there’s nothing like a dame and certainly not this one’.

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Copenhagen Youth Fashion Summit

On the 9th of May, I met with 100 other international students at the Royal Danish Institute of Fine Art in Copenhagen to discuss the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN general assembly last year.
Our task; to create a manifesto, detailing our demands to the fashion industry related to each of the 17 SDGs to present at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit by the end of the week. After inspiring talks about sustainable leadership from Rick Ridgeway of Patagonia, Eva Kruse, CEO of the Danish Fashion Institute and Dilys Williams from the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, we were divided in to groups to discuss our allocated SDGs. As part of the ‘Flourishing’ group, I worked with Goals 13, 14 and 15 regarding Climate Action, Life Below Water and Life on Land. It was an ambitious task to integrate 3 such important goals  in to a single paragraph and we struggled to find a balance between specific criteria and overarching themes however the final result after two days of furious discussion, mind mapping and reflection was a success;

As inheritors of your roles, we demand that by 2030 fashion is no longer the second-largest polluting industry in the world.

You — global policy makers — must work together with NGOs, brands and corporations to create and implement legislation for no more land abuse. Invest in research and innovation.

It is vital that we take responsibility in restoring the air, water and land that we have altered.

Furthermore, we must create more opportunities for life. To let this world flourish, we must stop taking that which we cannot restore.

We are running out of resources.

H&M’s JustFashion Lab

Along with six other students selected from across the UK, I spent the week at Hay on Wye Festival discussing sustainable fashion with representatives from H&M, the Centre for Sustainable Fashion and the Environmental Justice Foundation. We explored the possibilities of second hand clothing as a resource and looked into ways of making clothes last longer through clever transeasonal design and attention to detail and comfort.
H&M supplied items of used clothing from their garment collecting initiative; a scheme which encourages costumers to drop off unwanted garments to H&M stores in return for a money off voucher. We used this clothing as a starting point for new designs. Inspired by the idea of endurance, I created a transeasonal look consisting of a vest, blouse, a pair of trousers and a bag which could be worn together or separately depending on the weather. Made from a jumper, suit and pjama bottoms, I was keen to create a look that utilised all parts of the old garments I found in order ‘to close the loop’ on the use of these resources. After learning from Catarina Midby (H&M) about the difficulties of recycling mixed fibres I also decided to work only with garments made of pure fibres. In particular I selected garments made from natural fibres; wool, silk and cotton as the properties of these fibres make them particularly comfortable and hard wearing. See below for images of my work.
The week culiminated in a lively discussion between Catarina Midby from H&M, Orsola de Castro, Jessica Bumpus, Vogue and Margareta van den Bosch, chaired by CSF’s Dilys Williams at Hay Festival.

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