Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?
I run a management consultancy for the fashion industry, which focuses on brand strategy, sourcing and sustainability. I’ve been in the industry for 25 years – before setting up on my own I headed up product divisions for brands like Hugo Boss, By Malene Birger and Karl Lagerfeld. Some of my current clients include womenswear brand Dante6 and an NGO in Switzerland, who sponsored this year’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit.
How did you start incorporating sustainability into your business practices?
It was part of my role to look after Corporate Social Responsibility for several brands, and it was also a personal interest of mine to find a way to help mitigate the negative effects of the fashion industry. Now my focus is helping small to medium brands create roadmaps, understand their priorities and take small steps at a time.
Why do you think it’s important for businesses to adopt a more sustainable approach?
Businesses have a wider reach but also make a wider impact on the environment; they have a responsibility to improve their practices and footprint. Even small steps can have a large impact collectively, and once companies start to become transparent and create sustainability goals, these filter through into the wider organisation and beyond.
Why do you think this is particularly necessary in the fashion industry?
Fashion has a high impact: it’s a $2.5 trillion industry employing 75 million people worldwide. It hugely impacts resources and is one of the world’s most polluting industries, affecting everything from chemical management and water to land use and agriculture. And thanks to fast fashion, most people now see clothes as throwaway items. This needs to change.
Tell me a bit about what you learnt at this year’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit?
The rate of adoption of sustainable practices has slowed down this year. Sustainable solutions need to become more scalable and large corporations like Kering (who own brands including Gucci, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent) are sharing their innovations to help with this. Cost is still a key factor as consumers don’t want to pay more, so the pressure is on the supply chain. This is a vicious cycle, as the only way suppliers can meet these demands is through unsustainable and unethical practices. The industry is still trying to figure out its best practices, but there is real willingness – we just need to start moving forward. Small steps matter.
What can we as consumers do to be more sustainable with our fashion choices?
Rent clothes when you can and make sure to buy durable, non-seasonal items or vintage pieces, and donate them when you no longer need them. Learn to wash your clothes better, too – make sure you use an eco friendly detergent and wash on the lowest temperature possible.
What are your top tips for people looking to be more sustainable in their everyday lives?
Buy less and better, and invest in reusable items to cut down on single use plastics – I’ve just bought myself a range of reusable coffee cups and bamboo straws to carry with me when I’m out and about.