Renowned fashion stakeholders convene in Singapore for Global Fashion Summit to spur sustainability impact
“This is a decisive decade in the history of humankind” - Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary, UNFCCC.
Hosted outside of Copenhagen for the first time in its 13-year history, on 3 November, Global Fashion Summit assembled over 250 stakeholders representing manufacturers, garment workers, retailers, brands, suppliers, NGOs, policy, and innovators in Singapore and online to spur industry action. The Summit was presented by Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), the non-profit organisation that is accelerating the transition to a net positive fashion industry.
The latest edition of the Summit was centred around the theme ‘Alliances for a New Era’, building on dialogues from the June edition in Copenhagen and gathering leaders from across the entire value chain to elevate diverse voices and foster alliances within the fashion industry and beyond, to drive sustainable impact.
The Summit’s first international edition facilitated even more conversations with manufacturer and supply chain voices to discuss crucial challenges and opportunities around working collaboratively with brands on equal terms. The programme featured bold panels, case studies, masterclasses and leadership roundtables reflecting on topics including ‘Data Scarcity: A Crisis of Measurement?’, ‘Disruption for Better Wage Systems’, ’Community and Circularity’, ‘Connecting the EU Textiles Strategy with the Value Chain’ and ‘Our Energy Transformation Moment’.
Attendees heard from over 50 speakers including H.E. Sandra Jensen Landi, Ambassador of Denmark to Singapore & Ambassador-Designate of Denmark to Brunei; H.E. Iwona Piórko, Ambassador of the European Union to Singapore; Anne-Laure Descours, Chief Sourcing Officer, PUMA; Baptiste Le Gal, Chief Revenue Officer APAC, Vestiaire Collective; Christian James Smith, Head of Sustainability Stakeholder Engagement, Zalando; Ninh Trinh, Director of Responsible Sourcing & Sustainability, Target; Roger Lee, CEO, TAL Apparel; Wilson Teo, President, Singapore Fashion Council; Edwin Keh, Chief Executive Officer, The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel, Ashila Dandeniya, Founder, StandUp Lanka; and many more. View all speakers.
Federica Marchionni, CEO, Global Fashion Agenda, says: “The first international edition of Global Fashion Summit marked a special moment for us. What ensued was a day of critical dialogues representative of even broader stakeholder voices that are pivotal in steering the fashion industry. From our new alliance with the BBC Storyworks Commercial Productions and discussions around robust data to vital conversations about better wages and kickstarting the Global Circular Fashion Forum in Vietnam and Cambodia. As the focus shifts from words to deeds, we look forward to witnessing the ambitious and much-needed actions we inspire from the Summit, that not only reduce harm, but also deliver positive impact for the environment and societies.”
The event took place following the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s two-day Annual Meeting in Singapore, which was powered by Global Fashion Agenda.
Key takeaways and highlights from the event include:
-Global Fashion Agenda announced a new alliance with BBC Storyworks Commercial Productions to launch a film series on BBC.com, which is currently in the early stages of development. The new series will present human-centric stories focusing on both social and environmental sustainability in the fashion industry. It will be released to a wide audience in 2023. People are invited to share their stories via the Global Fashion Agenda website for potential inclusion in the series.
-Federica Marchionni outlined the crucial need for accurate and robust data to substantiate sustainability claims and credentials but acknowledged that the focus on finding ‘perfect’ data cannot be allowed to stifle progress. Global Fashion Agenda will build upon Summit discussions to reflect on how the industry can accurately measure and communicate sustainability performance and illuminate the data credibility challenges.
-The session ‘Establishing circular fashion systems in Cambodia & Vietnam’ outlined the first steps taken by the Global Circular Fashion Forum to establish circular fashion systems in Vietnam and Cambodia with regional stakeholders, government, brand and manufacturer representation.
-Throughout the Summit, the Innovation Forum connected fashion companies with sustainable solution providers. Exhibitors included Better Work , Circular Fashion Partnership, Compreli, Kno Global, Planatones by Noyon Lanka, Redress Design Award and The ID Factory.
-Through conversations such as ‘Disruption for Better Wage Systems’ and ‘Empowering the Worker Majority’, there was a resounding message for people to consider the real people in the value chain. Ensuring dignified livelihoods for these workers should have the same sense of urgency as emissions reductions.
Quotes from other leading speakers:
-Anne-Laure Descours, Chief Sourcing Officer, PUMA on sourcing alliances for recycled fibres: “Doing the thing right is not even a choice, it’s an obligation, and if you don’t do it right… you are out of business in the next 10 years.”
-Hilmond Hui, Vice President, Bombyx on better wage systems: “We need to reframe our thinking or what we think when we hear the word worker. They are not just a unit of productivity - they are people. People with names and people with lives.”
-Edwin Keh, CEO, The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel on sourcing alliances for recycled fibres: “We can’t recycle ourselves to carbon neutrality. It buys us more time, it gives us more room to bring in other solutions.”
-Maria João Vasquez, Chief Technical Advisor, Better Work Indonesia on empowering the worker majority: “There is no better monitoring of working conditions in a factory than the worker.”
-Sean Cady, Vice President, Global Sustainability, Responsibility and Trade, VF Corporation on data scarcity: “We are the first generation to experience climate change directly and the last generation to do anything about it.”
-Nazma Akter, Founder & Executive Director, Awaj Foundation on better wage systems: “We want decent jobs, fair wages, fair prices and we want profit. The power should be equally distributed between suppliers, brands and workers.”
-La Rhea Pepper, CEO and Co-Founder, Textile Exchange on alliances: "Being a force for change and empowering the industry to come together more effectively and work together more efficiently is so critical at this point, because it is truly these alliance approaches that are going to allow us to drive change."
Read more about Global Fashion Agenda here.