Thursday, April 26, 2012

Copenhagen Fashion Summit May 3

On May 3rd, the fashion industry will converge in Copenhagen to address a sexy topic: consumption.  Yes, that all too familiar practice we do every day, consume products we need and want.  Speaking for the developed nations, we consume across all industries--food, technology, transportation, and fashion--at significant rates contributing to the ecological issues we have today.  It is estimated each year, over $250 billion is spent on fashion (including accessories) in the United States and over $20 billion in revenue is generated annually.  Percentage spent on ethically-produced fashion?  Unknown.

The NORDIC Fashion Association in collaboration with Business for Social Responsibility held a series of Webinars earlier this year in preparation for the one-day conference.  The two organizations conducted a study to look at consumer behavior and sustainable best practices by fashion companies such as Patagonia and Levi Strauss and government-sponsored initiatives.

To be discussed at the conference, the NICE Consumer Report argues change rests with consumers.  When consumers choose ethically-made products, they choose to reduce their carbon footprint and that of the industry's.  However, blocking this eco-consumption power is awareness, lack of industry transparency and limited options.  The report offers a guiding light for consumers:

  • Demanding more sustainable options
  • Making choices about what to buy and whom to buy from
  • Improving how they care for garments, and
  • Making decisions about post-consumption such as responsible recycling.
Rather simple, no?  Always the optimist, I would like to think this guidance yields overnight success; however, we are wired and conditioned beings slow to change.  It takes strength and courage to adopt a behavioral mindshift wholeheartedly.  It requires the consumer to consciously seek options rather than expect to have appear, fashion-wise, in every department store or boutique.  

Coupled with consumer demand is industry accountability.  Summit organizers will also unveil a code of conduct developed specific to the fashion industry.  Inspired by the UN Global Compact's ten principles, the NICE Code of Conduct and Manual requires compliance with sustainability measures relevant to fashion and textile.

Come May 3rd, I will be hosting a fitting in preparation for a fashion installation I'm co-producing for the International Visions Gallery 15th Anniversary Gala (hint, hint, buy your tickets today! Guaranteed an incredible evening of art, fashion, and entertainment, benefiting Amnesty International.  Yes, shameless plug, but for an incredible cause!), but my thoughts will be with like-minded conscious fashionistas advancing this imperative topic.  On second thought, I will use the fitting as a "teachable" moment to share what I have learned and how we can be a more thoughtful consumer.

Please visit the Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2012  to learn more about this special event.

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