Cascale Joins Fashion Professionals at the 2024 Sustainable Fashion Forum

May 2, 2024 9:00 AM ET
Campaign: Cascale Events
Sustainable Fashion Forum

The Sustainable Fashion Forum 2024 took place April 17 to 19 in Austin, Texas, convening a number of sustainable fashion professionals.

Topics spanned everything from labor rights to regulatory changes. The event began with workshops on policy and circularity, including an immersive upcycling activity featuring Cascale members Everlane and Eastman, as well as two full days of programming. Networking opportunities were plentiful, hosted at venues throughout the city.

Cascale’s editorial director Kaley Roshitsh and Melissa Ortuño de León, senior manager, Higg Product Tools, both participated in the event and moderated conversations.

In one conversation, “Achieving Profitability as a Small Brand,” Jan Lo, co-founder and chief executive officer at Lo&Sons spoke of the trade-offs of owning a small business. He detailed the aims of his growing business which includes strategic decision-making across his value chain, be it recycled materials or flat-packing products.

The co-founder also treated the audience to samples of Lo&Sons’ “Catalina Deluxe” tote made of recycled polyester, with utility uniquely inspired by his former New York City DJ career.

Lo is also on the board of Yale University’s Center for Business and the Environment, offering support to entrepreneurs. His advice to early-career professionals is to be willing to pursue the “not-so-glamorous job title,” often found in supply chain or operations roles.

In another panel conversation titled “Who’s at the Table: Embracing Global Voices in Fashion’s Circular Future,” experts Charles Oyamo, co-founder and CEO, Rethread Africa; Yayra Agbofah, founder at The Revival and consultancy AfroDistrict; and Sandra Gonza, senior sustainability strategist, Quantis International; traced the arc of circularity.

The panelists discussed the urgency to fundamentally transform the existing fashion system and embrace circularity while calling for major funding inroads to support their work. A former clothing market trader in Ghana’s Kantamanto Market, Agbofah shared how his community-led initiative The Revival is turning consumer textile waste exported into West Africa – into art. Meanwhile, Oyamo spoke of the reality of scaling his agrowaste fiber. Throughout the conversation, Gonza offered her strategic perspective including how she is working with brands to develop transformational sustainability programs.

In another panel conversation, Sanchita Saxena, senior advisor of supply chain at Article One, and Sheela Ahluwalia, director of policy and advocacy at Transparentem, spoke of the audit-dodging practices that persist in the apparel and textile industry.

“Many suppliers are saying, ‘I don’t think it’s ever possible there’s a true partnerships… We have to think of beyond just doing the minimum,” said Saxena, calling for the reframing of “rightsholders over stakeholders.”

In a separate policy presentation, Michelle Gabriel, graduate program director of sustainable fashion at Glasgow Caledonian College New York City said being a consumer is a “disempowered identity,” arguing for a citizen-first approach. She championed regulatory changes adding, “Businesses today face a competitive disadvantage for engaging in sustainability.”