Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2018: Day 2

Stella McCartney Wants More Fashion Houses to Adopt Sustainable Practices

By Carissa Herb

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In attendance at this year’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit, SUSTAIN was able to take part in the first ever consecutive day of the program. The second day stimulated more conversation about the active planning amongst the businesses and successful brands that are leading this sustainable revolution, and paving a new path in the fashion industry.

Her Royal Highness, Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark started us off by bringing awareness to the power of collaboration. She had opened today’s discussion with a thought-provoking speech about the necessity and emphasis that we need to place on launching innovative technologies and ideas into the modern-day workforce.

She referenced the Pulse Report—published by the Global Fashion Agenda, in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group—in highlighting the guidance that it gives businesses that are just stepping into this change. As the report provides an “in-depth assessment of the industry’s environmental and social performance—revealing where the industry stands”—we are now seeing transformative products like Bioglitz (a sustainable glitter that is biodegradable). These innovative ideas are what is going to push the industry into the realm that is sustainable fashion.

We need to implement more and broader calls to action.
— Princess Mary of Denmark
The Crown Princess of Denmark, Mary. Photo Credit: Global Fashion Agenda / Copenhagen Fashion Summit

The Crown Princess of Denmark, Mary. Photo Credit: Global Fashion Agenda / Copenhagen Fashion Summit


Day Two also gave a more scientific outlook at sustainable industries leading our economies. In his Spaceship Earth presentation, David Roberts from Singularity University took us through his first call-to-action in his home state of Ohio, and the fires that sparked his questions about fixing the environmental problems in our world. Following this year’s summit theme of taking action, he makes the direct relation to how when we start thinking about why these problems occur, they are deeply rooted to our behavior. Roberts stated that, “if you really want to change behavior you have to change thinking.”  He showed us the dramatic drop in silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells— the units that compose most commercially available solar panels—per watt, have dropped from $76.67 in 1977, to $0.36 in 2016. And thus, the idea that renewable energy is not a viable option is wrong—we need to change the way we think about other methods of energy production. This set the tone for the rest of the day’s conversations, which further focused on new technologies and methodologies for producing sustainable materials, as well as running a business.

If you want to fix problems in abundance of technology you have to fix them with technology—but something different.
— David Roberts, Singularity University

Big leaders of innovative sustainable fashion, including Nike, Levi Strauss & Co. and Stella McCartney were present and showed the different material alternatives that can not only limit the amount of resources that are initially consumed, but promote longevity of the pieces that are being produced.

Nike Flyleather, is one of the brand’s latest innovations—“made with at least 50 percent reclaimed natural leather fiber, and water power” to embed their sustainable values into their design and production. Successfully, they have managed to divert almost 90% of their production waste from landfills. Chief Operating Officer of Nike, Eric Sprunk, wanted businesses to use these invocations as a catalyst for action.

Innovation Forum, Photo Credit: Global Fashion Agenda / Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Innovation Forum, Photo Credit: Global Fashion Agenda / Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Sustainability should be our first consideration.
— Eric Sprunk, Nike

During another panel, “The New Textile Economy,” Head of Global Product Innovation at Levi Strauss & Co., Paul Dillinger, morally contemplated the production of one pair of jeans that he knows wastes 78% of the water used in the dying process, during a time in which people in Cape Town don’t have access to water. He made it clear that it’s more beneficial to produce less of a product if the quality is better and resources are saved, rather than producing more. In order to produce a more sustainable product, Levi’s has to be creative in the production process—particularly, in limiting waste. This includes paying attention to things such as how the cotton is spun and how the dyes are used.

Instead of designing jeans, we’re trying to design consistency.
— Paul Dillinger, Levi Strauss & Co.
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Stella McCartney in her own conversation with former Vanity Fair editor and author, has shown that you can be a leader member in the luxury fashion industry, and still follow sustainable goals. Her strict constraints on materials has pushed her designs into new places, and has forced her to make strategic decisions.

As a vegan brand, the pieces she has created have been made with vegetable leathers and viscose sourced from sustainably-certified forests. But with these new synthetic materials, a lot of attention must be paid toward the afterlife of the materials. This year alone, the fashion industry has contributed to the destruction of 150 million trees, which are used to produce viscose rayon. "We are now probably the only fashion house in the world that uses sustainable viscose,” McCartney said.

If Day One of the Copenhagen Sustainable Fashion Summit was about discussing a need for a call-to-action, Day Two was about answering these calls and introducing alternative innovative technologies that businesses can use to propel themselves into the future of fashion—a future that is environmentally sustainable and long-lasting.       


Featured Image Attributed by Global Fashion Agenda / Copenhagen Fashion Summit