The Copenhagen Fashion Summit for 2012 tackles the future of sustainable fashion.
With initiatives aplenty directed at minimizing the impact of the fashion industry and to making it more sustainable, what is needed is probably a truly official and international effort to bring the most relevant ones together, and give them global resonance. Enter the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, a one-day event filled with the most prominent and prolific movers and shakers gathering to exchange knowledge and plans of action.
The outcome of the event was the actual presentation of a major initiative, highlighting a growing commitment of government bodies and major industry players alike, towards the creation of a truly sustainable future for fashion. The Copenhagen Fashion Summit was the platform for the launch of the first-ever sector-specific global initiative, the NICE Code of Conduct and Manual, under the Global Compact Programme.
NICE stands for Nordic Initiative Clean and Ethical, a joint commitment by the Nordic Fashion Association and its partners, to take a lead on social and environmental issues.
NICE has worked to create a framework for engaging consumers in sustainable consumption of fashion, which was recently handed over to the Danish EU Presidency and the European Commission. The framework will also be presented at the UN conference Rio+20 negotiations in June.
The Code of Conduct was developed as a multi-stakeholder effort, developed in close consultation with industry representatives, and the UN Global Compact Office. The objective? To take inspiration from the Compact Office’s 10 principles, but to also integrate them with more sector-specific content. The result is a 16-principle document that aims to assist fashion and textile manufacturers to ensure continuous improvement toward ethical and sustainable practices – a milestone in the evolvement of the future fashion industry that many want to see.
But what’s also remarkable and innovative about the NICE initiative, is that it doesn’t only address major industry players in a closed-loop, industry-only discourse. Mainly, it aims to highlight the consumer’s key role, and strives to create guidelines for the industry to educate the users towards a more responsible consumption of fashion.
This issue was indeed the subject of a Pre-Summit, which took place on May 2nd, ahead of the main event. Around 100 professionals, already involved with creating a better future for fashion, were invited to create an interactive workshop, going by the tagline of “Breathing Life into the NICE Consumer.”
Cody Sisco, BSR
The two-fold purpose for the gathering was to discuss NICE’s “Framework for achieving sustainable fashion consumption through collaboration,” as well as to devise practical ways to put the framework into action, by integrating suggestions from summit participant.
The subject of the relationship between industry and the consumer was approached from a multitude of angles. From designing for sustainable consumption, to engagement with consumers on responsible care and disposal of garments, and from awareness raising and consumer education to business model innovation. Facilitators such as Anne Prahl of WGSN, Holly Dublin of PPR (the holding behind major brands such as Stella McCartney and Puma), Allanna McAspurn of Made-By, Johan Ward of H&M, Orsola De Castro of From Somewhere, Kate Fletcher, author of Slow Fashion, Giordano Capuano of Vivienne Westwood and Lucy Siegle of The Guardian, among others.
But then again, the true impact of the event could truly be felt on the main day of the conference. Held at the beautiful venue of the Copenhagen Opera House, this saw more than a thousand industry and press attend, from 27 different countries.
And the line-up of speakers was utterly impressive – in NICE’s own words: “from Gucci to Greenpeace.” Once again, a wide range of perspectives were presented, from the luxury industry to the mass market, from trend analysis to statistics, from the next designer generation to NGO and policy level.
Certainly a nice touch and a breath of hope were brought on stage by the 100 students that took part in the Youth Summit. Arriving from 16 European design and business schools, they drew up a range of specific demands and recommendations on what the fashion leaders should be doing now to shape the industry they will one day be taking over. It was a moment which felt very true, with the students remarks sounding very aware and not at all naïve in their vision of the future.
After such an intense day, a touch of real fashion glamor was added to conclude the day in style, with a proper catwalk show, which was held outdoors, in front of the Opera House.
Naturally, a lot of thought had been put into this moment too. Not just a generic runway show, but one generated from a Design Challenge thrown at 15 Nordic fashion houses, whose test was to demonstrate once more what standards can be achieved through the use of sustainable textiles. And prove it they did.
The designers were provided with the highest quality fabrics by C.L.A.S.S. (Creativity, Lifestyle and Sustainable Synergy), the leading platform for sustainable textile sourcing and innovation, which promote materials such as Ingeo and Newlife (the new patent recently used by Giorgio Armani to produce the Oscars gown for Livia Firth to wear during her ongoing Green Carpet Challenge, now in its third year).
designers were also allowed to incorporate cut-offs, leftover and recycled fabrics in their creations. The result was a truly creative catwalk, which would have been perfectly apt for any of the major international fashion weeks.
The challenge was won by Susanne Rützou, and the prize presented to her by supermodel Erin O’Connor, who graced the catwalk with her understated presence, and reaffirmed her support for a sustainable fashion industry.
Here are some of our favorite looks from the runway:
Baum und Pferdgarten
Asta Creative Clothing