Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2014 i Operaen, København den 24. april 2014
Ministers, Lord Mayor, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
As patron I’m proud to see that after just five years the Copenhagen Fashion Summit has become the event where leading voices in the world of fashion, luxury, business and enterprise meet to discuss the fashion industry’s social and environmental responsibility and solutions.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Nordic Fashion Association for hosting this event and the organising body on behalf of the Nordic Fashion Association – the Danish Fashion Institute.
I would also like to extend a warm welcome to Copenhagen.
2014 is a special year for Copenhagen, as it has been awarded the prestigious European Green Capital Award by the European Commission. Why? Because the city excels in combining sustainable solutions with growth and quality of life. And because we are happy to share our knowledge and experiences with the rest of the world. ‘Sharing Copenhagen’ is all about sharing good solutions.
And today is also about sharing – sharing the most innovative solutions to critical environmental, social and ethical challenges facing the global fashion industry.
We are more than 1000 people gathered here today:
- Representatives from international fashion and textile companies,
- Industry experts,
- Design and business school professors and students; and
- Policy and opinion makers.
Now, imagine if each of us shares the outcome of this Summit with our local and international networks.
With the theme ‘Solutions’; this third edition of the Summit aims to take a complex agenda and make it more comprehensible. It aims to present a range of tangible solutions for the creation of a sustainable fashion industry.
The demands on the fashion industry for constant economic growth can be at odds with environmental and social sustainability. Growing volumes contribute to water scarcity in production countries, increased use of harmful chemicals and greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, increasing shortages of water and land, pose great risks to the natural resource base the industry relies upon.
As already mentioned the theme of this Summit is 'Solutions'. The industry’s challenges are global and therefore must be addressed globally. Collective action is needed from everyone involved in the fashion life cycle; from production to consumption. We all hold a responsibility, and together we can be the catalyst of change.
Many companies, large and small, have already set themselves the challenge of creating sustainable fashion. The journey is difficult and the progress is varied but, the results can be inspirational.
Large or small fashion brands have a responsibility to ensure sustainability is part of their business model. However, efforts towards sustainability can present real challenges for small and medium sized fashion companies and start-up designers, who do not have access to in-house sustainability experts. And this lack of specific information can be a large hindrance to their ability to become sustainable.
So, I thought it would be interesting to ask two Danish designers (Charlotte Eskildsen of Designers Remix and independent designer, David Andersen) if they would be willing to create something ‘appropriate’ for me to wear at this Summit.
Of course, the most sustainable choice would be to wear something I already have, but that would defeat the purpose of me obtaining a better understanding of the challenges designers face in creating a sustainable outfit.
So, what were some of the challenges they faced:
- Sourcing materials that can bring the design to life not only aesthetically speaking, but also from a functional perspective.
- Trusting that the fabrics and materials used are in fact what they claim to be. The two designers that I worked with highlighted the need for an international certification or symbol that guarantees materials and fabrics meet the agreed standards to qualify as sustainable.
- Dealing with price, quality, availability and lead-time.
- Being 100 percent sustainable is extremely difficult to achieve. For example, it proved impossible to source a sustainable zip for the skirt I’m wearing. So, the designer resorted to another sustainable option of recycling an old zip.
- Relying on others in the supply chain to also be fully committed to sustainability.
Today, the choice of sustainable fabrics and materials is much broader and is one of the most obvious places for designers to look for new inspiration. As part of the Design and Denim Challenge later today, you will be able to see some of these fabrics and be inspired by how leading Scandinavian designers have worked with sustainable materials.
The industry still has an enormous task ahead to supply commercially accessible materials. However, there are important steps being taken and new ventures continue to grow.
Already a number of sourcing platforms and showrooms exist in major cities around the world and online. Earlier this year, ‘The Fabric Source’ showroom opened here in Copenhagen providing designers with an opportunity to see, feel and test more than 1000 samples of sustainable fabrics and materials.
These showrooms and platforms are concrete solutions that can help simplify the process for designers.
The fashion and textile industry is global and goes way beyond the control of designers.
Today, it is exactly one year since the world witnessed one of the worst industry disasters in history when the eight-story Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed – more than 1000 people died and several thousand were injured.
The tragedy in Dhaka was a stark reminder of the need to bring working conditions in line with international labour standards and reinforced for us all, that; ensuring workers’ rights are protected and respected involves a wide range of societal actors; including governments, employers, buyers and workers’ representatives.
This year’s Summit has dedicated a special session to mark the one year anniversary of this disaster. The session, ‘One Year after Rana Plaza’, will honour and commemorate the victims and focus on the solutions needed to prevent such tragedy ever happening again.
The Fashion industry continues to face a long list of global challenges – but this Summit demonstrates the willingness, we know exists, to bring about change by sharing knowledge and experience and working together.
You have an exciting program ahead of you today. And I hope that you will leave today, inspired by what you have seen, heard and discussed.
Take it with you, share it and make it grow.