COPENHAGEN FASHION SUMMIT
The Copenhagen Fashion Summit is the world's leading business event on sustainability in fashion. The event sees spokespeople from the industry come together for panel talks, interviews and discussions around moving towards a more sustainable future in fashion, covering environmental, social and ethical issues. I was invited to the sixth edition of the summit by ISKO, one of the event's sponsors, and Eco Age, a specialist sustainability and communications consultancy based in the UK and founded by sustainability queen Livia Firth.
On arrival at Copenhagen's magnificent Concert Hall, I was greeted by team ISKO. ISKO is the leading manufacturer behind some of the best-known denim brands. Sustainability in the denim industry is something ISKO is hugely passionate about, and as such, the brand has spent the last 20 years humbly developing a more ethical approach to its industry and being transparent across its entire supply chain. ISKO is the only denim mill in the world to have been awarded both the Nordic Swan Ecolabel and the EU Ecolabel for its Earth Fit collection. Both labels ensure the consumer knows they can trust what they are purchasing as brands certified need to meet a long list of criteria to meet the standards set.
As part of the event, I was attended many of the fascinating back-to-back talks scheduled throughout the day around sustainable brands and how some of the biggest brands in the world, including Nike and H&M, are taking steps (some of which are huge) to be more sustainable in their practices. This is such an important topic when we think about how many billions of products these brands are turning over annually.
Eric Sprunk, COO of Nike, led a talk entitled "To power and protect the future of sport," in which he revealed the steps the brand has committed to, one major development being Nike Grind. Nike Grind uses recycled athletic footwear and surplus manufacturing scraps to create performance products, ranging from new footwear and apparel to sports surfaces. To date, over 35,000 scrap shoes have been used for thousands of other applications. 75% of all Nike products now contain recycled scrap materials.
"We need to create simplified certification systems like 'organic' and 'fairtrade' messaging to ensure consumers can know and understand what they are purchasing."
Paul Dillinger, VP and Head of Global Product Innovation at Levi Strauss & Co, was incredibly engaging when discussing the realities of product manufacturing and how important to the Levi's brand it is. He questioned how, when 6 out of 10 samples end up in a landfill and Cape Town is running out of water, we can justify using 3,781 litres of water to make one pair of jeans. He also argued that in order to ensure a sustainable future in fashion we have to make it an expectation for every brand and every customer to live up to the standard rather than it being the exception.
British model Lily Cole, a longtime campaigner for sustainability, participated in a panel on "How do we talk about sustainability outside of this room?" She suggested that, as in the food industry, we need to create simplified certification systems like "organic" and "fairtrade" messaging to ensure consumers can know and understand what they are purchasing. Research Cole has conducted herself indicates that too much information can overwhelm people, and the more visually we can label products, the more consumers are likely to adopt ethical shopping habits.
Another sustainability hero in attendance was the incredible Stella McCartney, whose label has just released the world's first biodegradable trainer. Having always remained committed to sustainable fashion, McCartney revealed how as a designer, due to a limited but constantly evolving range of materials, she is sometimes forced to give up creative ideas and designs due to the lack of material available in an ethical form.
Though I was just a little over 24 hours in Copenhagen (my first trip), I left feeling inspired by the commitment at play in the fashion community, and proud of how the industry is progressing. Though there is still so much to do, and so many brands that need to change their ways, it feels like the change is (slowly but surely) coming and by both technological innovation and compassion for our planet and the people we share it with plus building an awareness around how we shop and wear our clothes we can once again make fashion feel great #FashionWith Feeling.