Wear it Wise Sends Student to 2019 Copenhagen Fashion Summit
"When consumers purchase a product, sustainability should come as a requirement, not as a rare bonus."
This spring, I had the opportunity to participate in Net Impact’s 2019 Wear It Wise Campaign for sustainable fashion and was honored to represent Net Impact and the program at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in Denmark. The Summit brought more than 75 speakers and attendees representing more than 48 countries, an audience including some of the most insightful top management leaders who are actively making a change in the world. This event was a great learning experience because everyone there was not simply focused on fashion, but also on the impact it has on the earth.
The theme for this year’s summit was to “take it from words to actions,” meaning rather than just talking about the negative effects, we should be engaging in activities that reverse them. Founder and CEO of Wedesign, Simon Collins began the summit by addressing this issue, suggesting that we need to act now. He told the audience that we were the leaders who would be informing and inspiring others to make the changes that will better our planet. We are the ones who have to take that first step and start educating others over the dangers of the fashion industry. Before it is too late, we must come together and begin implementing these healthy practices.
Many speakers addressed the need for regulations and practices to change, to be stricter on environmentally-friendly rules over the methods that brands use to produce their clothes. It is important that we create a universal standard that everyone is required to practice on. Speakers stressed the need to change the way we produce, market, and consume fashion in order to make the earth a healthier place. When consumers purchase a product, sustainability should come as a requirement, not as a rare bonus.
Transparency is key to making this possible. Consumers have the right to know where their clothes are coming from and the conditions of those involved in the creation process. Katherine Hamnett, CBE, designer, and activist in the industry for over 30 years, talked about how tags on clothes should provide more details on what the clothes are made out of and the effect those textiles have on landfills. A Swedish startup group is doing this exact thing, describing every stage of the production process on their clothing tags. This level of transparency can be a model for all fashion corporations.
The summit also hosted an “Innovation Lab,” where sustainable companies came to showcase their updated methods. One company that really stuck out to me was Repack, who provides their customers with a new way to ship items. The packaging they use is made up of 100% recycled materials and once the package has arrived at its destination, the recipients can ship it back to Repack at no extra cost, so that the company can reuse the package again and again. Well-known retailer, H&M, had an interesting pop-up shop that mixed virtual reality and clothing. Participants were able to pick out a donated shirt and give it new life by using a VR technology to see a variety of colors and patterns. Once the participant created their new shirt virtually, H&M was able to print the design onto the donated shirt, making it an entirely new one.
Overall, my time at the Fashion Summit has greatly influenced the lifestyle I choose to live. Rather than shopping in fast fashion, I strive to purchase the majority of my clothing from secondhand stores. I love getting to share my newfound knowledge with others and I know I am making a difference in the world. As a result of my experience participating in Net Impact’s Wear it Wise Campaign, I now have the power to lead and inform my peers for years to come. I learned that the solution is not a sprint, but a marathon that every company, large and small, needs to be working towards. Everyone is a part of the change; from designers and manufacturers to consumers and sellers, we all must work together to enforce sustainability.
Kaci Floyd graduated in May 2019 from Texas State University with a BBA in Marketing and a minor in Fashion Merchandising. Kaci was awarded the opportunity to attend the Copenhagen Fashion Summit after her team placed second in Net Impact's 2019 Wear it Wise Campaign. Her team's campaign reached over 700 people and featured a campus-wide fashion show highlighting Waterless Jean line, Levi Strauss' sustainability initiative to teach the industry how to use less water in manufacturing. Kaci served as the President of the Fashion Merchandising Association at Texas State University and will be interning with WSL Strategic Retail Consulting in New York City in the summer of 2019.