SYDNEY — The Australian Fashion Council has become a signatory to the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action.
Launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018, the charter’s aim is to assist the industry in achieving a target of 30 percent greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050, with additional goals including setting a decarbonization pathway for production, the deployment of climate-friendly and sustainable materials, low-carbon transport and an exploration of circular business models.
From 31 founding signatories including Adidas, Burberry, Kering, Inditex, H&M Group, PVH Corp., Stella McCartney and Target, as well as a dozen supporting organizations such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the China National Textile and Apparel Council, the charter boasts 88 signatories and 27 supporting organizations.
The Australian Fashion Council is only the second fashion industry body to become a signatory, after the Fédération Française du Prêt à Porter Féminin.
“Climate change is the issue of our time,” said David Giles-Kaye, Australian Fashion Council chief executive officer. “The global fashion industry is a major contributor to the problem, but this means we are a key part of the solution, too. Making public commitments to taking action on climate change are critical to making progress, as are setting milestones and being actively involved. By signing the Charter, AFC commit to working with the Australian and the global industry to make change happen.”
Giles-Kaye, a smart textiles specialist, has been ceo at the Australian Fashion Council since its inception in late 2017 — the result of a merger between the then 65-year-old Council of Textile & Fashion, of which he was also ceo, and the designer-focused Australian Fashion Chamber.
In February 2020, he will pass the baton to a new AFC ceo, Leila Naja Hibri, who is the outgoing general manager of Australian fashion accessories label Helen Kaminski and a board member of Yagi Tsusho Ltd.’s Tokyo-based joint venture company Helen Kaminski Japan Corp.
An AFC board member since December 2018, Naja Hibri has a background in economics and accounting, with over 15 years experience in luxury and premium brand management for companies including Prada and Luxottica Group across Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America.
“The board is excited to work with Leila in bringing new creative and business opportunities to the industry and to see her applying her expertise and passion in growing Australian brands in export markets while advocating for equal opportunity and diversity in business,” said Edwina McCann, editor in chief of Vogue Australia and AFC co-chair.
“My priority when I start will be to meet with members and other industry stakeholders to understand how the AFC can further evolve and continue to support the design and textile industries to grow and thrive sustainably,” said Naja Hibri, who will be overseeing the continuation of multiple AFC industry programs, including a half-dozen steering committees across industry sectors such as indigenous fashion; the AFC Designers Abroad program, which stages promotional and networking activities for Australian fashion labels at New York and Paris fashion weeks twice a year; and ethical practice and sustainability, which have been key focus areas for the organization.
Among other sustainability initiatives, in March this year the AFC partnered with Sydney-based ethical sourcing consultancy Ndless: The New Normal and Fashion Revolution Australia on the launch of a new two-day sustainability summit in Sydney called the Legacy Responsible Fashion Summit.
According to Giles-Kaye, AFC membership has grown 60 percent since the 2017 merger, reaching 400 to 500 companies and organizations — a mix of designer brands and retailers, educators, manufacturers and tech companies.
“I’ve seen a new sense of collaboration within the industry and I think we’ve led that by showing you can bring organizations together,” he said of his time as ceo. “Some of the other things I’m really proud of include the development of the momentum around sustainable practice. We’ve been part of the voice in building momentum, really taking strong action to deal with climate change.”