Sustainable Style reception at the British Ambassador’s residence in Paris

Change is coming, but it is coming slowly, was how’s global editor-in-chief Godfrey Deeny summed up the panel talk at last night’s Sustainable Style Reception at the British Ambassador’s residence in Paris.

Moderated by Deeny, the panel featured four speakers: Claire Bergkamp, head of sustainability and ethical trade at Stella McCartney; Frances Corner, head of the London College of Fashion; Marie-Claire Daveau, chief sustainability officer and head of international institutional affairs at luxury group Kering (of which Stella McCartney is part); and Tamsin Lejeune, founder of global industry body Ethical Fashion Forum.

The discussion covered such topics as sustainability in production and raw materials, the circular economy, gender parity, how to reconcile sustainability with creativity and whether fast fashion is the enemy of sustainability.

Key points to come out of the discussion included:

• Only 1% of textiles globally are recycled back into textiles

• Brands need to have responsibility for their supply chains and for the people making their clothes

• There are 57 million garment workers, 80% of which are women

• Sustainability and fashion equals empowerment, not just for the women wearing the clothes, but for the women in the supply chain

• There needs to be more investment in women-led businesses

• Taking a swipe at fast fashion (although it wasn’t all negative) – the way we consume results from the way the industry has provided us with products

• The London College of Fashion believes that with 5,500 students, it can change the fashion industry from the inside out.

• All indicators suggest millennials are the age group with the highest awareness of sustainability.

And also:

• Innovation is key to sustainability, and for this Kering looks to start-ups— its innovation accelerator collaboration with Plug and Play and Fashion for Good aims to fast-track innovation within the luxury and apparel industries.

• Part of the qualitative bonus of Kering CEOs is linked to sustainability targets, and all top management have incentives linked to sustainability.

• Stella McCartney is working with US start-up Bolt Threads, which has developed a way of making silk without silkworms—it grows synthetic spider silk from yeast.

• Stella McCartney also has a partnership with US consignment site TheRealReal to promote the idea of the product living longer, by encouraging people to sell through this platform.

• Deeny was wearing a pair of Stella McCartney socks made from recycled polyester.

Sustainability is complex, the participants agreed, and there is still much to be done. But to move forward, collaboration is key.

To this end, Kering and the London College of Fashion have launched the world’s first open-access digital course in sustainable luxury fashion, beginning April 9. To register, click here

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