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


Industry Spotlight: Steven Bethell, Founder of Bank and Vogue

Steven Bethell has been a thought leader and pioneer in the post-consumer textile space for over 20 years. He has dedicated his work life to innovative and relevant solutions to the crisis of stuff. Steven is also the co-founder of Bank and Vogue, which actively works with over 250 charities and private collectors across North America to maximize the value of post-consumer waste and find creative uses for this “waste” stream. Steven and his team have traveled to over 30 countries working extensively amongst the robust second-hand markets of the world. 

The retail arm Beyond Retro has been the leader in Vintage clothing in Europe for over 15 years. With 8 stores and a thriving eCommerce branch, Beyond Retro can be found on the cover of Vogue, featured in the Huffington Post or worn by Adele. 

Beyond Retro Label is a line of unique, re-worked items handcrafted from carefully selected vintage fabrics available at Beyond Retro stores or at High Street retailers such as Urban Outfitters or Top Shop.

Steven is also the brainchild behind the largest Re-manufacturing plant in the world, where the circular economy for textiles is brought to life.  Taking post-consumer waste and transforming it into relevant products, facilitating repair and re-commerce platforms and providing post consumer apparel as feedstock for fibre recycling projects, Steven works with big brands to help them bring their sustainability platforms to the next level. 

In his spare time Steven lives off the grid in the Canadian wilderness.  He is an avid woodsman: fishing, paddling and  learning about the outdoors and its many wonders.

When asked his favourite SDG, Steven replied, goal 12 and 13 are closest to my heart.

For more on Bank and Vogue, visit https://www.bankvogue.com

Sustainability with Urban Planet

Seneca Fashion 3rd-year fashion students embark on their 2019-2020 capstone project journey.

Each year, graduating students from Seneca’s Fashion Business Management (FBM) Advanced diploma program partner with a client in the fashion industry to assist with a real-life business opportunity. FIELD short for Fashion Industry Educational Exchange and Leadership Development is a capstone project. During the FIELD year, students work in teams to apply knowledge gained to develop creative solutions for the ‘client’ and present their strategy to a panel of judges at a year-end industry event. We are overjoyed to announce that our 2019/2020 FIELD client is Urban Planet, a brand under the iconic YM Inc. family.

The Challenge? Sustainability.

Sustainability is the new frontier in fast fashion, too much clothing winds up in landfills every year, and the environmental cost related to this industry must be addressed. Urban Planet would like to develop a robust sustainability initiative addressing materials selection, manufacturing, post-consumer waste, and packaging. How can Urban Planet adopt better manufacturing practices while engaging more with their customer, successfully converting the initiative into the adoption of additional sales and customer loyalty?  

“We are very excited to be the 2020 Field Project Industry Partner and contribute to such an amazing educational program. When Anna and Lorrisa presented the opportunity to be the industry partner, we jumped at the opportunity. YM values the contribution of fresh minds and believes in giving young people a leg up in the industry. The most important part of our successful evolution are the people we work with.  It’s the teams of talented individuals that collaborate and inspire each other to push hard and do more to impress our customer.  

Our industry is facing a significant cycle of change, sustainable manufacturing practices are at the forefront of retail conversations and initiatives.  We believe that great fashion doesn’t have to come at the cost of the environment and are committed to improving our processes to ensure we make better choices in our future production and logistics. Concern for the sustainability of the environment must be top of mind as we drive our strategies forward.  

Retailers must act as a bridge between manufacturers and consumers, demanding change from our suppliers and encouraging new consumer behavior as well. Great insights and fresh new approaches for the end to end sustainable retail cycle is our challenge to the 2020 graduating class of Fashion Business Management. We believe that this generation is more engaged than ever before with environmental responsibility and know they will truly impress us with their innovative and forward-thinking retail strategies– Maria Mayer, VP of Merchandising at YM INC.

This year, five groups of student teams will develop a capsule collection and marketing plan that researches the Canadian women’s apparel market. Their solution will focus on sustainable sourcing, production, and omnichannel selling practices and should define a clear competitive advantage and a diverse channel/assortment and branding strategy.

“Third year in FBM has been great so far. FIELD has been accelerating quickly from week one as we are tacking our FIELD concept to present it to our client, Urban Planet for feedback. I am excited and anxious for the final presentation at the end, knowing it could lead to some open doors (potential employers), post-grad Seneca.”Yonas Kbede, FBM Student 

Students embarked on their FIELD journey on September 12, 2019, with a visit to Urban Planet at Fairview mall. Here, they received a private tour and presentation on the brand’s visual and merchandising strategy followed by presentations from senior management, question and answer period, and a group networking lunch at Seneca College.

“The FIELD project gives our 3rd-year FBM students an opportunity to tackle a real-life business case with mentoring from the industry client and faculty. It’s a privilege to work industry leaders like Maria and members of the Urban Planet team (at YM Inc.) who embrace the value of our FIELD program and its outcomes. The skills students learn and apply throughout the 8-month duration of the project sets our graduates apart from other fashion business graduates in the GTA.” – Lorrisa Dilay, FBM Professor at Seneca College

About Urban Planet:

Unique in size and concept, Urban Planet is one of the fastest-growing fashion brands in Canada, with more than 100 locations across the country and an online store at www.urban-planet.com. Catering to a broad core demographic of young men & women aged 16 to 24, our customers are part of a generation constantly looking for that next best thing.

With a focus on the latest fashion, footwear & accessory trends, our customers can be confident in knowing they’ll stay one step ahead of that ever-changing curve, and with our everyday amazing prices everyone can always afford to look their best. As we continue to expand our brand, our retail philosophy will continue to stay the same: shopping should be fun and great fashion should be accessible to everyone.

About Seneca Fashion: 

Seneca Fashion combines innovation with the world of business, beauty, and design. Our programs in fashion and esthetics challenge you to connect your creativity with professional skills to help you succeed in the industry.

Through field placements, competitions, and Seneca’s Fashion Resource Centre – a collection of Canadian–worn garments and accessories, you’ll experience the industry, build connections, and develop a career. To learn more about Seneca’s exclusive Fashion Resource Centre visit www.fashionresourcecentre.com

Kelly Drennan on SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Kelly Drennan is a systems thinker, social entrepreneur, thought leader, disruptor and collaborator who is devoted to making change within the fashion industry. Twelve years ago she founded Fashion Takes Action, out of her desire to create a better, more sustainable future for her two daughters.
She is also responsible for producing the World Ethical Apparel Roundtable (WEAR) which began in 2014, developing FTA’s youth education program “My Clothes My World” and “Design Forward – Canada’s Sustainable Fashion Awards”.

She has given hundreds of presentations to industry, academics and consumers in the hopes to raise awareness for responsible consumption and production, and for human rights in the fashion industry. Kelly is very passionate about the circular economy in fashion and is responsible for convening a Textile Diversion Collective in Ontario. This multi-sector collaborative has more than 30 stakeholders. We caught up with Kelly during our Transforming our World symposium and asked her to share a few words on her favourite Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

“My favourite SDG 12 because in order for us to move toward a circular economy, it requires both industry (production) and consumers (consumption) to be responsible. This necessary shift to circularity is not the responsibility of any single sector, but rather the combination of private and public sector, and civil society.”

October 7th marks day one of the 2019 Fashion Takes Action, WEAR Conference. Stay tuned for our full event coverage!

Industry Spotlight: Romy Schill, Sheep and Lamb Producer and her view on SDG 2, Zero Hunger

RschillRomy Schill was raised on a dairy farm near Moorefield. She met her husband Ryan Schill through Ontario’s 4-H program and when they married in 2008, they knew that they wanted to farm. Romy had studied at the University of Guelph receiving her degree in Agricultural Science. After Romy worked off the farm for a few years and after getting some farm experience, the couple decided to concentrate on sheep. The barn was rebuilt and set up to handle their new flock.  They now have 300 ewes (female sheep) and hope to increase their herd size to 500 in the coming years. Their farm, in Wellington County, has been in the Schill family for 94 years.

Their sheep are a combination of both commercial and purebred d stock. The sheep are marketed to other farmers for breeding stock or to the local auction ring for meat. They also sell some lamb meat and sheep products (wool, yarn, sheepskins) from the farm gate and at a few farmers markets.

Romy is a board member of the Upper Canada Fibreshed. The Upper Canada Fibreshed is an affiliate, not-for-profit organization within the international Fibershed network committed to building a regional fibre system centered around local fibres, local dyes, and local labour. It nourishes emerging, bioregional textile communities of producers and consumers, that value sustainable agriculture and hyper-local textile manufacturing. Its members believe that supporting bioregional textile networks will change the way we make, purchase and use textiles, envisioning a different culture based on soil-to-soil systems for environmental regeneration.

SDG2When asked her top #SDG, Romy replied “With our farm we truly support sustainable resource use and soil to soil fibre systems to achieve food security, improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. A huge commitment to animal health, care and environment gives our animals the opportunity to be productive creatures.”

Want more? Visit our blog post ‘not a baa-d look’ and learn about our #SenecaFashion sheep sheering project.

 

Garry Bell’s view on SDG 9: Industry Innovation and Infrastructure​

GaryBellHaving worked for close to 25 years within Gildan, across a wide range of leadership positions ranging from sales, marketing, product development, innovation, business development, and strategic planning, Garry Bell has developed a passion and a keen thirst for all things sustainable. As a self-admitted ‘life-long learner’, he has long advocated that truly sustainable and responsible practices are directly linked to the corporate success and profitability of most organizations. Gildan’s mission is “Making Apparel Better”, a statement strategically worded to not be defined as making better garments but rather one that is defined as making apparel in a better way that delivers value to every one of their stakeholders. Their goal is to create positive change and impact each and every day, through the actions they take, the decisions they make and the lives they touch.

SDG9

We caught up with Garry and asked him to share his favourite SDG. His response:

“Wow. That’s a tough one. The strength of the SDG’s is that they collectively address the most material issues we face. Pulling one out as my favorite leaves so many things unaddressed. I believe that SDG9, Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, can act as an important enabler for many of the other SDGs, in an era of ever-increasing digitalization of our world. Substantive progress on this SDG can make eradication of poverty, access to quality education, clean energy and ensure strong and effective partnerships are formed. I also think it’s an SDG that can very quickly access the capital required to make substantial progress quickly.”

-Garry Bell

Rafik Riad’s view on SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Rafik Riad, originally from Egypt, has studied and worked globally on policy design and project implementation in the field of international development. In 2011, Rafik founded SALT, a fair-trade social enterprise that worked with communities in Africa and Latin America. Rafik’s appreciation for social enterprise as a business model that circumvents both the volatility of traditional development frameworks and the shortcomings of conventional corporate models led him to found Buy Good. Feel Good. in 2014.

Today, Buy Good. Feel Good is North America’s largest marketplace dedicated to connecting social enterprises with buyers and consumers.

We caught up with Rashid during our Transforming our World Symposium, we asked him to elaborate on the SDG that resonates with him most, clean water and sanitation.

SDG6_RPandC

“No life without water, through my Egypt origin I am very much aware about the importance of water, we all need to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water”

-Rashid Riad