Sustainable business approaches are essential for the fashion industry, but without collaboration and sharing of best practices, implementation is hard to achieve.

This story first appeared in the May 27, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

That’s the premise behind Glasgow Caledonian University New York’s launch of the Fair Fashion Center in New York. The university, well-known in the industry for its fashion and executive education programs, said it is opening the center “as both a repository and conduit of information,” where participants “will examine the business case for sustainability in the fashion industry.” The center will concentrate on “business practices that produce positive financial, societal and environmental results.” This approach is already resonating with key industry leaders.

“The Fair Fashion Center recognizes the roles and opportunities that fashion companies might play to improve sustainability in manufacturing, packaging, shipping, etc., of products from our industry,” said Terry J. Lundgren, chairman and chief executive officer of Macy’s Inc.

Moreover, a university setting is likely to be an ideal one for fostering collaboration, say college officials. And the timing is right, said Laurent Claquin, head of Kering Americas. “At Kering, we believe in the power of collaboration to scale sustainable solutions beyond our own business and supply chains, to contribute to a better world economically, socially and environmentally,” Claquin said. “There is no greater time for the Fair Fashion Center to be launched to support our industry through research and a sharing of best practices.”

GCU chancellor and Nobel Laureate professor Muhammad Yunus said the “fashion industry has always impacted more than just itself. So many companies have started evolving toward sustainability and I am pleased that GCU and the Fair Fashion Center will help the industry find sustainable solutions for the world’s challenges.”

Cara Smyth, vice president of GCU New York, said “there are fantastic initiatives under way and we need to capture them, understand the best practices and the greatest opportunities to scale.” The center is already working with industry leaders and will form partnerships with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, United Nations Global Compact and the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education, among others.

Kazumi Yanai, group senior vice president of Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., said the retailer is “pleased that the Fair Fashion Center is working to align with business leaders to help maximize industry efforts, and expedite the collective opportunities and progress in the fashion sector. Our industry has a responsibility to make the world a better place, not only through [corporate social responsibility], but also through our core business activities.”

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