Future of Fashion: Sustainability at its core – Panel discussion at London Fashion Week
The Sustainable Angle is excited to report that we have arrived at London Fashion Week! As part of the #londonfashionweek Positive Fashion initiative that launched in September 2017, The Sustainable Angle held a talk: ‘Future of Fashion: sustainable innovation at its core’ which took place on the 18th September 2017, an unprecedented subject to be discussed in the catwalk space of London Fashion Week.
Chaired by The Sustainable Angle’s Amanda Johnson, the panel included key leaders of the fashion and textile industry:
- Helen Sahi, Senior Director for Sustainability of Avery Dennison talking about retail branding and information solutions
- Oya Barlas Bingul, Business Development Director of the Lenzing Group, talking about their award-winning low-impact cellulose fibres and their latest innovations such as Refibra™
- Henry Palmer from Bysshe partners shared insights of the production of their cotton and hemp fabrics made in Britain
- Daniel Lismore the London based artist, fashion designer, author and campaigner talked about his creations including reusing, reclaiming and recycling fabrics and clothes and his involvement in a sustainable fashion campaign by H&M
- Arizona Muse, Model, Mother, and World Citizen talking about sustainability in the fashion industry from her perspective
Helen Sahi talked about Avery Dennison’s big picture approach to sustainability, by being ambitious about its goals and seeing itself as a key change initiator. Helen is a member of the board of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and works together with other major fashion and shoe brands on the continual development of the Higg Index, a self-assessment standard for assessing environmental and social sustainability throughout the supply chain.
Avery Dennison RBIS supports the fashion industry to make sustainable packaging and labelling solutions a reality by, for example, using renewable resources in packaging.
Helen also highlighted that while Avery Dennison as primarily a label supplier in the fashion industry has a seemingly limited environmental impact, its influence is much greater as widely assumed. Not only is Avery Dennison a key player with an annual revenue of $6.3 billion and thereby able to set new trends influencing partners and competitors alike, but with the growing importance of recycling in the clothing industry, labelling itself is gaining importance. If you don’t know where your garment came from and what it is made out of, it is difficult to know where it can go at the end of a consumer life-cycle.
Oya Barlas-Bingul from the Lenzing Group highlighted some of the core benefits of their closed-loop production process of cellulose fibres and highlighted that challenging the status quo of today’s fibre mix is at the very core of the values of Lenzing Group. One of their latest innovation, Refibra™, has just been launched on the market, and a brand new innovation for the luxury market is being introduced in October 2017 in Paris.
New innovations that lessen the burden on our resources, and close the loop on our waste streams are needed. There are estimates that the need for clothing will have doubled by the year 2025. Refibra™ fibres, are one solution to this problem, as they are not made from virgin material, but partially made from pulp that contains cotton scraps left over from post industrial cutting operations and sustainably managed wood, FSC certified. The fibre is produced in a closed loop lyocell process. When the question was raised about prices of sustainable materials, she emphasized the point that there are major efficiencies that come into play when using Lenzing’s yarns which reduce the price overall in the production stage.
Henry Palmer from Bysshe talked about some of the challenges small companies in the textile supply chain are facing and expressed frustration at the limited financial investments in sustainable innovations currently around. As Co-Founder of Bysshe, a small but thriving mill in the UK of high-quality cotton/hemp blended fabrics, he highlighted that the sustainable textile industry could easily expand faster if more investment was available, and hence become competitive: Scalable production will allow prices of sustainable materials to drop, and will therefore become more widely accessible.
He also gave some insights into Bysshe dyeing practices and options available. Bysshe are currently using high quality synthetic dyes form trusted partners in the UK, for their hemp/cotton denims. The combination of the low impact synthetic dye with their fabrics which are as low impact on the environment (hemp being a bast fibre) and of a high social standard make a great long lasting and responsible high-quality fabric. While they are trying to revive old practices, Bysshe is not afraid of using modern technology, if used responsibly.
Daniel Lismore spoke about how core it is to harness creativity by pushing forward innovative ideas and highlighted his insights from a designer’s perspective. The role of the designer has to evolve with the sustainability challenge.
He also drew attention to the fact how significant the impact of a single person can be and encouraged those with a voice to use it to challenge the status quo and change the industry from within. Daniel himself started to use recycling techniques in his design and art projects and has fronted the Close the Loop sustainability in fashion campaign for H&M.
Arizona Muse was giving us an insight into her personal interest and involvement in supporting projects which lower the environmental impact of the industry. She highlighted how important it increasingly became for her to be involved in meaningful projects and highlighted that for her, sustainability is a mind-set — not only is it very interesting to learn about but it’s also very exciting and fun to be engaged in. This mind-set has for her opened new, interesting doors. She also highlighted how the fashion industry should tell more the ‘story’ of the garment.
The Sustainable Angle is thrilled that our message to the fashion industry was heard loud and clear at our talk at #LFW. Sustainable thinking and operations have to be placed at the heart of our industry practices, but above all they present opportunities that are positive, exciting and bring efficiencies and possibilities that make sense not only for the environment but future-proof businesses.