Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2018: Day 1

How transparency is becoming more in demand by consumers 


Over a year ago before SUSTAIN, Carissa Herb and myself dreamed of coming to Copenhagen. It is one of the more sustainable cities in the world. Every year since 2009, the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, brings top dogs from the sustainable fashion world together for one day.

This year, the non-profit initiative, Global Fashion Agenda, gave support for the summit to span over the course of two days. The Global Fashion Agenda was founded in 2016, and have since collaborated with big names such as Kering, H&M, Target, and  Li & Fung— just some of the companies speaking on panels today.

This year’s theme is about “calling to action”—how to get traditionally unsustainable brands to become more sustainable. The summit, which is being held at the concert hall, brought brands together like ASOS,  and business owners and creatives like London-based influencer, Doina Ciobanu.

Simon Collins, founder of Fashion Culture Design explained five important tasks on how to create “call to action”—or as he says it,  to “put your phones down and actually do something."

It’s your fault, accept that.
— Simon Collins, Founder of Fashion Culture Design
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The first panel of the day was “Enabling Transparency to Create Change,” presented by C&A Foundation. Panelists in attendance included Target VP of product quality, Amanda Nusz; G-Star Raw corporate responsibility director, Frouke Bruinsma; founder of Bangladesh Apparel Exchange, Mostafiz Uddin; and founder of Fashion Revolution, Orsola Castro.

Transparency has become a hot topic in the sustainable fashion community—from Fashion Revolution starting the successful hashtag #whomademyclothes to Uddin which emphasizes sustainable requirements for their factories and business partners. Uddin spoke about how “we need to pay for transparency.” Transparency isn’t going to just appear from thin air; there are financial needs in order for it to come into place.

Orsola Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution. 

Orsola Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution. 

Nusz said “We (Target) are the first retailer to publish tier two suppliers.” And while Target may not exactly be the first, they are certainly one of the biggest. Tier two are the smaller suppliers and the main link to the supply chain. For example, a Merona jacket purchased at Target may have came from a tier one supplier, but that zipper on the jacket is considered tier two.

Another panel of the day was called “Innovations for Supply Chain Efficiency,” presented by ISKO. On the panel was senior CSR executive of ISKO, Ebru Ozkucuk Guler; sustainability program director of Kering, Geraldine Vallejo; CEO of GANNI, Nicolaj Reffstrup; VP of corporate responsibility of Burberry, Pamela Betty; and Global Head of Sustainable Networks and Entrepreneurship of HSBC, Susanna Wilson.

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Discussing Kering, Vallejo stated, “In our long term goal, we plan to work with more raw materials and generate these practices in place.” While sustainable agendas are rare in luxury fashion, Kering has the potential to have a greater impact as it owns some of the biggest luxury designer brands like Gucci, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta—and for many years until recently, Stella McCartney.

Being an SME, we have no excuse than to create a supply chain that’s sustainable.
— Nicolaj Reffstrup, CEO of GANNI

While the panel hosted a combination of high and niche fashion brands, GANNI was one of the smaller ones targeting eco-conscious consumers. According to Reffstrup, SME’s—enterprises that have fewer than 250 employees—make up half the global market. He takes accountability, mentioning how SME’s are mostly to blame and are part of the problem mainly because they are a small enterprise that live in a socialist rather than a global market.

Transparency in the supply chain was brought to people’s attention in Day One at the summit, but we are really excited to see what day two has in store for us. Stay tuned, and if you haven’t yet, follow along our journey on Instagram.