Stella McCartney speaking to Graydon Carter at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit

A Quick Guide to What Was Said at the Most Important Sustainability Event of the Year

Elin Larsson, Sustainability Director at Filippa K, visited Copenhagen last week to discuss sustainability in fashion with top stakeholders from all over the world. Here, she shares her most important insights.

Elin Larsson: The Copenhagen Fashion Summit is one of the most important sustainability events of the year in the world of fashion, much because the Summit gathers a big and relevant audience of stakeholders. This year we were about 1,300 people from more than 50 countries across the globe representing the fashion sector, politics, NGOs, academia and the media. With almost 60% of participants coming from top management, 14 percentage points higher than last year, sustainability is clearly a top priority.

We listened to several inspirational talks and panel discussions addressing the need for turning ideas into action; transparency; collaboration; how to create systemic change; life time value of products and the potential of new business models for remake and reuse.

Three big trends

These trends were frequently discussed at this year’s Summit.

  1. Fashion Service
  2. Smart Fashion
  3. Instant Fashion (3D printing)

Four inspirational speakers

These speakers made a mark with their contributions.

Transparency was mentioned as a game-changer; to find a way to disclosure information in a standardized manner that is available to the public and comparable. Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Fashion Revolution, said: “We can’t fix what we can’t see. Transparency is the first step, it needs to be followed by change.”

Paul van Zyl, co-founder of Maiyet, talked about the elephant in the room and proclaimed that we need to stop overproduction (and Filippa K could not agree more).

Green-minded architect and designer Bill McDonough talked about the need to design for circularity; to aim for technical cycles/loops where we develop services with end-of-use in mind already during the design phase, enabling reuse and recycling, and biological cycles/loops were we design for end-of-life. He also addressed the importance of data to create circular loops and the potential of using block chain technology for that. He finished his talk by saying: “Being less bad is not the same as being good.”

David Roberts from Singularity University held the most inspiring talk over the two days. He compared our planet to a spaceship floating in space (a comparison I like to do too) and the need to be careful and respectful for the finite resources we have with us on our journey. He also said that to change behavior you have to change the thinking, and to succeed with that we need to know what it is we should be thinking about. He finished by saying: ”Leadership is about standing up and move even when it is not popular”, referring to the changes Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi were able to create.

The Innovation Forum

This year the Summit had an exhibition space called Innovation Forum where 50 established brands together with start ups and entrepreneurs were able to showcase their innovations and new solutions making it possible for brands to really move from words to action. We were proud to already be collaborating with six of them: ISKO, Lenzing, Colorifix, Repack, We aRe SpinDye and TrusTrace.

“We have to have this conversation and we have to be held accountable,” proclaimed sustainability pioneer and fashion designer Stella McCartney in conversation with former editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter. McCartney’s words summed up this year’s edition of Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

Orsola de Castro and Carry Somers and David Roberts arriving at this year's Copenhagen Fashion Summit

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