Key Takeaways from the 2019 WEAR Conference

For the forth year in a row, Seneca Fashion had the pleasure of attending the 6th annual WEAR (short for, World Ethical Apparel Roundtable), and boy did we take away some actional information! Keep reading for our key takeaways from this year’s event.

THE 2019 THEME? PURPOSE MEETS PROGRESS

Since 2014, the World Ethical Apparel Roundtable has brought together the entire fashion industry to learn, network and collaborate. This intimate platform allows for meaningful connections, deeper learning opportunities, and a clear sense of how to take action. Over two days, global experts shared best practices, challenges, and successes through a highly engaging format.

WEAR is not only a master of bringing new groups together, but they also excel in helping businesses develop new sustainable business ideas. Some of our essential takeaways from the speakers and breakout sessions include:

#WHOMADEMYCLOTHES  

Millennials and Gen Z care where clothes are made and by whom. They express their love (or lack thereof) for brands on social, making ethical story-driven brands more impactful than ever.

ARE WE REALLY MAKING PROGRESS?

We really need to seek challenges in society and look for solutions and how to push through them. Today, brands are doing more than engaging customers in their brand story. Some notable industry examples include:

Gisele wears Stella McCartney for the #GreenCarpetChallenge at the Hollywood For Science Gala in Los Angeles. Photo credit: Getty Images

#GreenCarpetChallenge The Green Carpet Challenge (GCC) is a world-renowned sustainability initiative that creates a compelling and press-worthy narrative to amplify a brand’s environmental principles. The GCC is a sophisticated initiative that pairs glamour with ethics, serving to raise the profile of a brand on red carpets around the world, putting sustainability in the spotlight underpinned by digital disruption. The GCC has grown exponentially to include world-famous designers and celebrities, all united in highlighting sustainable fashion and methods. Designers who have taken part in this initiative include Narces, Stella McCarthy. Their designs have been worn by Gisele Bündchen and Penelope Cruz.

ALDO’S RPPL Shoe Made of Plastic and Water

ALDO is stepping up in big ways and small to reduce their environmental footprint and create a more sustainable society for all. Committed to creating and producing responsibly at ALDO, RPPL is one of many ways ALDO makes that commitment very clear. Even the RPPL shoebox is made out of 100% recycled cardboard.

Photo courtesy of ALDO

The Prince of Whales Campaign for Wool
In September 2019 Line, Smythe, and Michael Kale Design Limited Capsule Collection of Wool Pieces for Holt Renfrew, in partnership with The Prince of Wales’ Campaign for Wool initiative. Each high-profile local designers will create a three-piece capsule collection for the fall season. The purpose? To help draw attention to the many benefits of wool, primarily that it is a natural, renewable, and biodegradable resource that’s both friendly to people and the environment. 

Photo courtesy of Holt Renfrew

HOW TO DRIVE THE UPTAKE OF SUSTAINABLE FASHION: THE SUSTAINABLE FASHION TOOLKIT

The uptake of sustainable fashion is slowly dying. The mission is to identify what berries the fashion industry is facing when it comes to sustainability. There are so many resources that are hard to navigate. During the conference Fashion Takes Action, and PWC made an extraordinary announcement launching The Sustainable Fashion Toolkit

No matter where you are in your sustainability journey – just getting started or well on your way – the Toolkit offers something for everyone. With helpful, customizable filters designed for simple navigation, our platform will help you easily find what you need for your specific sustainability journey.

The stages of the Toolkit include: Define – Plan – Implement – Monitor – Report 

Image: The Sustainable Fashion Toolkit

THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY 


”Every year $120B of textiles sit in waste”

@queenofraw

During the Circular Economy Panel, ThredUP, Queen of Raw and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation analyzed three principals to generate value for companies. These include:

  1. Designing out waste
  2. Keeping product and material in use (via rental and second hand) 
  3. Regenerate natural systems (i.e., cotton, grape skins, green and regenerative agriculture)
Circular Economy Panel

“97% of products made with virgin materials // less than 1% are circulated back into products.”

@queenofraw

With such complex value chains, how do we scale circular and innovative business models?

“Leverage technology to build your own inventory management system”

@thredUP

“Keep supply/demand local” 

@queenofraw

“Centralize waste” 

@StevenBethell

Circular business models start at the design process. In comes the Rethinking Design workshop delivered by  IDEO and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The rethinking design workshop is a fun and engaging workshop that can be accessed for free on the Circular Design Guide.

So with all these takeaways, where can one start? Start by thinking about what you can do with a product once you are done with it. Think of its second life! There are several viable options, such as; recycling the product, taking it to #ValueVillage, a local shelter like Jessie’s Centre, or having a clothing SWAP. 

For more information on WEAR, follow Fashion Takes Action


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