Responsible innovation was this year’s theme of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. Speakers shouted out for more transparency and communication, and a change of values in fashion to the 1,200 participants.
Normally DANISH™ does not focus on fashion as a subject. Others who are better qualified do that more competently than we do. But when it comes to fashion focusing on sustainability and responsible innovation, we should all stop, focus and listen. This is why DANISH™ participated in yesterday’s international fashion summit at the concert hall of National Danish Broadcasting television.
Livia Firth, the founder and creative director of Eco Age Ltd was the first to proclaim her impatience about brands not working fast enough or contributing at a large scale by changing their chain of production to act responsibly. “Fast fashion and multibrands taking over high streets are some of the biggest obstacles in our way to responsible fashion. As long as fast fashion (ongoing and inspired collections with a very short production time and low prices) is part of the strategy of multibrands, consumers will continue buying it. How do you change this?” she asked, addressing the big elephant in the room.
A tough story to tell
The summit is held every second year. Vanesse Friedmann, fashion director and chief fashion critic at the New York Times participated as a speaker two years ago as well as yesterday. Her argument on how change is possible is to be found in the fashion communication: “Sustainability is not sexy,” she claimed.
“It´s a story of too high complexity and thereby too little interest,” she continued and explained:
“Every time I try to sell a story about the large amount of waste produced by the fashion industry or the billions of litres of water spent on production – I’m like two sentences in and their faces go blank. Then they answer: ‘Can you just do that for Earth Day?’”
Even though the audience had quite a few laughs throughout her speech, the seriousness behind it was noticeable: “You need to go find the stories about sustainable or responsible fashion that matter to the customer. Stories we can feel. Stories about feelings, animals, sex and life that mean something to every one of us!”
Performance brands on the win–win
Someone who had more than one strong and relevant story to tell was Hannah Jones, Chief Sustainability Officer and VP, Innovation Accelerator of Nike, Inc. She described how Nike’s growth in sustainability increased after their first campaign to recycle worn-out shoes from consumers led to the Flyknit shoe. This is a shoe knitted on top of a sole with one piece of string instead of creating waste by cutting fabric and throwing out the rest. In her speech, she also stated how the development towards more responsible and sustainable production with, for instance, the Flyknit shoe, gave them not only a better product in terms of the environment, but a better product for their target group of athletes, a lighter and stronger shoe.
Other brands, like Patagonia, which was represented by Rick Ridgeway, and OTB (Only the Brave), represented by Renzo Rosso, also supplied with positive stories that were able to inspire both the participants as well as the media. More specifically Rick Ridgeway explained the company’s thinking with a campaign titled: “PLEASE, do not buy this!” He used an advertisent picturing a jacket and a series of bullet points to explain how much water, waste and pollution the production of one jacket alone required.
“In the western world, today, we use seven times the resources every day as the earth is able to produce,” he said as he finished: “Because I live on this planet, I have to participate in changing this development.”
Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark is patron of Copenhagen Fashion Summit, and you can find more information about the speakers, the panellist etc. here: www.copenhagenfashionsummit.com