Copenhagen Fashion Summit: Empowering the Consumer to Influence Change
By Meghan Bumbaugh
Issue 11 Winter 2012
Earlier this summer, key stakeholders in the fashion industry from around the globe gathered for the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, to incubate ideas culminating in the delivery of a plan for a more sustainable fashion future. This biennial event brings industry professionals together “to identify new opportunities and forward-looking solutions for the global fashion industry to tackle the growing challenges facing the planet” and to build consumer awareness of the social impact and sustainability footprint of apparel.
Identifying the influential role that consumer dollars play over what practices are repeated, the Framework for Engaging Consumers in the Sustainable Consumption of Fashion was introduced by Peder Michael Pruzan-Jorgensen, managing director of Europe, Africa and the Middle East at BSR.
While many sustainable strategies begin at the manufacturing level, the idea behind the Framework is to encourage action from the other end of the spectrum as well.
The ultimate goal of the Framework is to empower the consumer to make strategic choices with their purchasing power. Each dollar spent on a sustainable product is like casting a vote, thus enforcing responsible manufacturing practices leading to even more viable choices in the future.
The product of collaboration between design industry professionals, the Framework was presented in 4 piece cyclical structure involving society, government, and business as part of the solution. With the purpose of altering consumer behavior, government’s suggested role in the process casts a wide net: to educate the public through behavior campaigns, enforce product transparency, penalize greenwashing, provide economic incentives to business, and restrict the use of harmful substances. Business must play the most direct role through material selection, sourcing, operational efficiency, and design; considering how products will be disassembled in their afterlife stage.
The Framework was officially presented to the Danish EU Presidency, Danish government representatives, the European Commission, and Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action. This year’s summit also featured speakers from a variety of fashion and sustainability backgrounds including: Rick Ridgeway, Vice President of Environmental Initiatives at Patagonia and a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition; Helena Helmersson, Head of Sustainability at H&M; Rossella Ravagli, Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility Manager at Gucci, Soren Petersen, from the United Nations Global Compact, and Kristen Brodde of Greenpeace International.
Drawing so many industry leaders together, The Copenhagen Fashion Summit is among the most influential events promoting sustainable practices in the fashion industry today. The collective insights that emerge from the amalgamation of shared experiences is key, generating a partnership across companies with potential to make a greater strategic advantage for all.