LONDON — The Copenhagen Fashion Summit hasn’t officially started, but companies are already beginning to feel the heat.
Earlier this month, the latest report by Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group said sustainable progress in the fashion industry has slowed, and if the slowdown continues at the current rate, Paris Agreement climate goals can’t be met.
In his opening remarks ahead of the summit Baptiste Carriere-Pradal, vice president of the sustainable apparel coalition, stressed the importance of collaboration.
“Mid-size companies are actually the ones who are progressing with their sustainability efforts because they don’t have such large dedicated sustainability departments, they’ve found solutions through collaboration and more companies should be banding together,” he said.
Retailers including Stella McCartney are also in favor of collaboration. On Wednesday morning Google, innovation consultants Current Global and Stella McCartney announced they were teaming to provide fashion brands with a data analytics machine learning tool powered by Google Cloud technology.
The tool will provide visibility and measure the environmental impacts of different textiles so that brands can make more responsible sourcing decisions in their supply chain.
McCartney will take part in the first pilot project, which plans to deep dive into the environmental impacts of cotton and viscose.
“Stella McCartney has been a forerunner in the fashion industry embracing and leading the change for sustainable fashion,” said Kate Brandt, sustainability officer at Google. “At Google, we also strive to build sustainability into everything that we do, whether that’s operating efficiency data centers or having our own Responsible Supply Chain Program.”
Ian Pattison, customer engineering manager for Google Cloud U.K., added: “The challenge facing the fashion industry is one of information, taking fragmented and somewhat incomplete information and quickly translating it into meaningful insights to take action. Our cloud computing and unrivaled global mapping means that we can address the challenge of reducing the environmental footprint of fashion.”
Current Global kicked off the project, analyzing where the industry’s largest environmental challenges were, and then worked with Google to help find solutions. Current Global said it continues to work with Google, fashion brands, experts, NGOs and industry bodies with the aim of creating an open industry-wide tool.
The Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion has partnered with Forum for the Future to create an interactive learning toolkit, Fashion Futures 2030, to encourage the industry to make sustainable choices.
“We created four scenarios and stories of the future that were based partly on speculation and partly on fact to promote critical questioning and help the industry identify risks and opportunities and come up with ideas and solutions,” said Dilys Williams, director of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion.
The four scenarios, which were brought to life via film, and launched at the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen, have already sparked interest among the industry including Marks & Spencer and Asos. The toolkit will be made available online and Williams said she hopes it will help promote change.
Food shortages, extreme storms, climate related deaths and conflict, are some of the scenarios presented in the film.
“They’re not predictions, but they do reference things that have happened or are happening. It’s almost an extreme version of our current realities. We’ve got a short amount of time to change who we are so we hope that businesses and students can use this toolkit to think differently about the decisions they make,” Williams said.
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