LONDON — The British Fashion Council wants to see the U.K. fashion sector being rebuilt sustainably. So it’s bringing designers, executives, government representatives and sustainability activists together in the inaugural Institute of Positive Fashion Forum, a series of talks and roundtable discussions taking place digitally on June 10.
The talk is aiming to build momentum and set the agenda, ahead of COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in November in Glasgow, Scotland.
Some of the speakers already confirmed include Burberry’s chief executive officer Marco Gobbetti; Alexander McQueen CEO Emmanuel Gintzburger; Ganni CEO Nicolaj Reffstrup; Virgil Abloh, and Parley for the Oceans founder Cyrill Gutsch.
“It’s an opportunity to use this first conference in the U.K. to bring the fashion industry together with government and policy-makers to test the grounds and set the agenda ahead of COP26,” said the BFC’s CEO Caroline Rush, adding that the event will include a mix of talks and roundtable discussions aiming to inform policy.
There are four key pillars that will be examined in the forum as determined by the Institute of Positive Fashion, including environment, people, community and craftsmanship — with a particular focus being place on decarbonization.
“We’re trying to galvanize the industry to commit to the race of net-zero carbon emissions,” said Rush, explaining that the issue of carbon footprint will also open up an array of other urgent topics, ranging from biodiversity to social justice.
Earlier this week, Mulberry committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2035 while the British Retail Consortium is aiming to de-carbonize U.K. retail by 2040, with stores and warehouses being powered by net-zero electricity by 2030 and brands’ and retailers’ supply chains reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
“Mulberry’s move was really powerful and I look forward to hearing Burberry and McQueen at the forum. These big businesses are committing to changing their models and together with some of the smaller labels we have here, like Christopher Raeburn or Bethany Williams, there are some significant voices in this race we’re in,” added Rush.
British businesses, many of which operate independently, have been dealt a particularly hard blow over the pandemic and are also facing additional tariff issues post-Brexit. But Rush remains positive that as the world reopens, new opportunities for sustainable growth will crop up.
“The challenges of the pandemic gave [designers] the opportunity to assess the challenges across their businesses and rebuild through the lens of sustainability,” said Rush, adding that the BFC will be helping the rebuilding process by facilitating ongoing discussions like the IPF forum and highlighting the learnings and practical tips back to its network of brands.
Patrons and designer members will be offered one complimentary ticket each to the June even, as well as discounted rates for additional tickets, while members of the public and fashion industry professionals can purchase tickets, priced at 150 pounds, from the IFP website.