Quantcast
Business

World's Largest Fashion Sustainability Summit to Drive Responsible Innovation

More than a thousand experts, NGOs, opinion makers, media and politicians gather Thursday for the Copenhagen Fashion Summit—the world's largest event on sustainability in fashion. Jonas Eder-Hansen is development director at the Danish Fashion Institute and organizer of the summit. We asked him some questions about the big event and the state and future of sustainability in fashion.

Jonas Eder-Hansen. Photo credit: Danish Fashion Institute

Q. This is the fourth Copenhagen Fashion Summit. What is special about this one?

Jonas Eder-Hansen: We have come a very long way! We have a lot more decision-makers among the participants now and they come from very different positions in fashion companies, representing everything from design and material sourcing to sales and marketing. International participants are up from around 40 percent in 2014 to more than 60 percent this time. In short, I think the summit finally has been able to attract more from the "mainstream" fashion community, not just the sustainability experts.

Q. This year's theme at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit is "responsible innovation." What does that concept mean to you?

Jonas Eder-Hansen: We work in one of the world's largest industries but also one of the most resource-intensive. As an industry we have to develop new business models and solutions that can solve the massive challenges we face. The world needs innovators who can lead the push towards a more sustainable economy. The fashion industry has the potential to be one such innovator, working proactively to address critical environmental, social and ethical challenges on a global scale.

Q. Many fast fashion representatives are attending the summit such as H&M, Adidas and Diesel. How can these big companies become more sustainable when their business models depend on people buying more clothes more frequently?

Jonas Eder-Hansen: The large brands and retailers are built on a linear economy in which we extract, process, consume and dispose. This is the foundation of modern society not just the fashion industry. It cannot change overnight, but the fashion industry is definitely moving towards a more circular economy. H&M's vision, for example, is 100 percent circularity. In 2015, some 1.3 million of its clothing were made with closed loop material—more than 300 percent compared to 2014. A company like H&M is well aware of the challenges and are committed to use its size and scale to become fully circular.

Q. So is the fashion industry, in general, ready to take a leap into a circular economy?

Jonas Eder-Hansen: We have to! According to studies from Ellen MacArthur Foundation there even is a major business opportunity here. Many brands and retailers are testing various take-back models and investing in recycling technologies, while governments and local authorities are piloting voluntary extended producer responsibility schemes. We are still far from a perfect solution, but the right actors are giving it so much attention that I really think we can succeed.

Q. One of the most inspirational speeches from last summit was Vanessa Friedman's presentation of the idea "sustainable wardrobe" in which we carefully select clothes that will stay with us for a long time. What are your thoughts on this? Is a sustainable wardrobe irreconcilable with the prosperity of the fashion industry?

Jonas Eder-Hansen: Not at all—I think there are a lot of companies already focused on craftsmanship, quality and sustainability who at the same time sell their products at a premium and have a very healthy revenue model. Yet, much more can be done from the industry to engage in a dialogue with consumers about the wear and care of their garments. This could lead to increased customer loyalty and brand building for companies. From a consumer perspective, we have probably become a bit too lazy to think about how we care for our clothes in a smarter way, such as washing in cold water, line drying instead of tumble drying etc. I think consumers could learn more about "wardrobe stewardship" to make their garments last longer.

Q. The Danish minister for foreign affairs is on the guest list for the summit along with other political figures. What role do politicians play in making the fashion industry more sustainable?

Jonas Eder-Hansen: There is so much governments can do. A few examples include: 1. integration of sustainable fashion curriculum into primary, secondary, university and vocational education and research, 2. standardization of product transparency disclosures and driving of consolidation of ecolabel(s) for fashion products and 3. exploration and testing of economic incentives (such as tariffs, deposits, etc.) to internalize social and environmental costs of consumption and production.

Q. What do you want people to take home with them after the summit?

Jonas Eder-Hansen: That we are on the right track towards a more sustainable fashion industry and that Copenhagen is the central place to discuss ambitions and visions for how we get there quicker.

Copenhagen Fashion Summit takes place May 12 at the Copenhagen Concert Hall with speakers such as H&M's Head of Sustainability Anna Gedda, founder & creative director at Eco Age Ltd. Livia Firth and EU commissioner for industry, Elzbieta Bienkowska. Learn more on copenhagenfashionsummit.com and follow the event on the summit's Facebook page.

Check out Sustainia's fashion series on Facebook and Twitter and discover some of the most groundbreaking sustainable fashion solutions in our Solutions100 publications.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

3 Reasons You Should Skip Fabric Softeners and Dryer Sheets

Will America's Love for Cheap Clothing Doom the Sustainable Fashion Movement?

Go From Bike to eBike in Under a Minute With the GeoOrbital

World's First and Only Sunglasses Made From 100% Reclaimed Fishing Nets

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Animation showing percent of acres burning worldwide. NASA / GSFC / SVS

New NASA Study Solves Climate Mystery, Confirms Methane Spike Tied to Oil and Gas

By Sharon Kelly

Over the past few years, natural gas has become the primary fuel that America uses to generate electricity, displacing the long-time king of fossil fuels, coal. In 2019, more than a third of America's electrical supply will come from natural gas, with coal falling to a second-ranked 28 percent, the Energy Information Administration predicted this month, marking the growing ascendency of gas in the American power market.

Keep reading... Show less
Pexels

Forest Gardening With Space for Wild Elephants

By Michael B. Commons

In my collaboration with Terra Genesis International, I have been given space and support to investigate what we may call "Regenerative Pathways," looking at real life examples of functional farming systems that we can identify as being on the "Regenerative Agriculture Pathway."

While these farms/farming systems might be called "Regenerative Farms," we see regeneration more as a long term process and continuum that we can evaluate through indicators such as soil health, water retention, biodiversity, community health and more.

Keep reading... Show less
Slava Bowman / Unsplash

How Can We Help Put a Human Face on Climate Change?

By John R. Platt

Communicating the truths about climate change isn't always easy. Sometimes the effects of climate change seem to hover in the future, or are occurring most visibly in other parts of the world. Other times they're subtle—at least for now. And of course, there are some people who just don't want to hear anything about it.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Aerial view of Yaguas River and the Cachimbo tributary. Alvaro del Campo, Field Museum

Peru's Newest National Park Safeguards 2 Million Acres of Amazon Rainforest

The Peruvian government announced it will establish a new and enormous national park in the Amazon.

Yaguas National Park, located in the northern region of Loreto, consists of 2,147,166 acres of rainforest, a vast river system and is home to more than 3,000 species of plants, 500 species of birds and 160 species of mammals, including giant otters, woolly monkeys, Amazonian river dolphins and manatees. The park also features 550 fish species—one of the richest fish faunas in the world.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Molteno Dam Reservoir in Cape Town. Wikimedia Commons

Will Cape Town Become the First Major City to Run Out of Water?

Cape Town is on track to become the first major city in the world to run out of water.

The world-renowned tourist destination—and the second-most populous urban area in South Africa after Johannesburg—could approach "Day Zero," when most taps run dry, by April 21, Mayor Patricia de Lille said Tuesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
The mountains of Haiti. PO2 Daniel Barker / DVIDS

Haiti’s Most Popular Ecotourism Destinations

The tropical Caribbean island of Haiti is a paradise with a rich, fascinating history, natural wonders and diverse cultural offerings. It has also been named by some as the next big thing in regional tourism.

But ecotourism in particular could become important for Haiti, with its rich land and sea biodiversity. Globally, the business of ecotourism generates more than $600 billion a year and is connected to hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
iStock

Nearly All Coastal Governors Denounce Plan to Expand Offshore Oil Drilling

Politicians from coastal states around the country continue to call for their states to be exempt from the Trump administration's proposed expansion of offshore drilling following its politically-tinged decision last week to remove Florida from the plan.

The Interior Department said last week that Secretary Ryan Zinke had spoken with seven coastal governors opposed to drilling, including the governors of North and South Carolina, Rhode Island, Delaware and Washington. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's office told press Zinke would consider removing the state from the plan following their call, while California Gov. Jerry Brown's office reports that Zinke promised to travel to the state to further discuss the offshore leases.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Rob Hainer / IStock

In Alabama, a Cleanup Unearths Toxins—and Scandal

By Matt Smith

Lot by lot, backhoes and dump trucks are scraping and hauling away yards on the north side of Birmingham to remove soil laced with heavy metals and other industrial wastes—the legacy of this city's years as a steelmaking power.

Federal prosecutors say that effort also uncovered something else: a scheme to save polluters millions by putting the neighborhood's representative in Montgomery on their payroll.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!