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EFF SOURCE Fashion business success without compromise

6 July 2016

Insights From Leaders: 8 Drivers Of Change In The Fashion Industry

Contributor Ethical Fashion Forum


On the 29th June 2016, the Ethical Fashion Forum brought together top level executives, experts and influencers in the fashion industry, for the first in a series of focused round tables at the House of Lords in London. The goal of the series is to create a core group of senior leaders with the capacity, and the will, to drive meaningful change for a more sustainable fashion industry.

Delegates included C suite and senior roles from Vivienne Westwood, Roland Mouret, H&M, and Conde Nast as well as leading suppliers, pioneers and influencers. The event was hosted by Baroness Young of Hornsey.

Below, we have complied 8 key insights from delegates on what they see as the key drivers of change in the fashion industry.

1. Rebranding sustainability

“Digital was an unsexy revolution in the fashion industry 10 years ago. But now, if you’re not digital you don’t even exist. How can we make that happen with sustainability as well? Sustainability will be the new cool, the new digital.” Dolly Jones, Digital Strategy Director, Conde Nast

“Sustainability needs to be sexier, to get more luxury brands to the table.” Mark Langthorne, CEO, Roland Mouret

“Introducing a Sustainability Award at the British Fashion Awards would help change the image of sustainable fashion.” Brigitte Stepputtis, Head of Couture, Vivienne Westwood

2. Businesses setting bold goals

“We need to set the example, set bold goals, even if right now they seem unrealistic – we have to show the industry that we are willing to aim for them.” Catarina Midby, Sustainability Manager UK, H&M

3. Creating a level playing field

“We need to create tools that help measure social and environmental impact so that everyone is on the same page.” Safia Minney, Founder, People Tree

4. Engaging a wider audience

“Wider influence in retail trade is needed – we need to touch and convert more people in the industry and beyond. We need to demonstrate that business can do good – and do well.” Sally Bailey, formerly CEO of White Stuff

5. Engaging the next generation

“The task for us is to ensure that every level of student is engaged in this.” Alex McIntosh, Course Leader of Fashion Futures Masters, London College of Fashion

6. Collaboration

“Connecting different actors in business together is fundamentally important. Individually it is expensive, difficult, and no individual business has all the answers.” Prama Bhardwaj, Founder and CEO, Mantis World

7. Harnessing consumer audiences

“Many journalists see ethical stories as an attempt to provide another angle on fashion – they need to see the value in ethics itself as a fashion story. Audience engagement in sustainability is huge. At Vogue.co.uk, the highest ranked article for a whole year was one about Rana Plaza one year on. Consumers care, people want to read about this.” Dolly Jones, Digital Strategy Director, Conde Nast

8. Harnessing the power of industry

“Transparency in the supply chain is key to the Modern Slavery Act. The main incentive is reputation – companies are driven by the desire not to look bad in front of their customers and are willing to change behaviour in order to avoid it. This section actually came from businesses, not the government. So it demonstrates the power of the industry to make change.” Baroness Young of Hornsey

Read more about the New Leadership series of round tables at the House of Lords, and our goals with it, here.

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