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The sustainable future of fashion



The Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2012 gathered over a thousand key figures in the fashion industry alongside the Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark on May 3 to discuss how to tackle the environmental challenges that face the fashion industry.

Speaking at the summit held in the Danish Opera House, H&M’s head of sustainability Helen Helmersson described the company’s work with Genetex, which owns the laundry symbols found on labels, to address the need to tell their customers to wash at lower temperatures.

This was a general consensus amongst keynote speakers as Anne Prahl, senior sports consultant at fashion consultancy WGSN, stated: “The biggest impact on a garment is with washing and ironing. We also need more biotech to create soaps that clean at a lower temperature but this really needs consumer involvement”.

The summit set the international agenda on sustainability in fashion with the help of 1,043 people from 27 countries who all gathered to share insights and identify new opportunities. Together, they outlined a framework for engaging customers in sustainable consumption of fashion, which was then handed over to the Danish EU Presidency and the European Commission.

The NICE Consumer Framework for Achieving Sustainable Fashion Consumption Through Collaboration received its final revisions designed to inspire action from government, industry and society and will be presented at Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

The Fashion Summit, founded by the Nordic Fashion Association (NFA), was organised for the first time in Copenhagen in December 2009 in connection with the UN Climate Change conference. At the event, NFA launched its top project, NICE – Nordic Initiative Clean and Ethical.

NICE will be at the forefront of a similar event, the Helsinki Fashion Summit in Iceland, at the end of this month, which will focus on the work of young designers and their contributions to the future of sustainable fashion ventures and design initiatives.

You can help create a more sustainable fashion industry by voting with your money at the Ethical Superstore, which takes the confusion out of making a more sustainable choice.

Further reading:

Gucci and Puma group releases sustainability plan

Be sustainable, be fashionable

Is it alright to shop ’til you drop?