Industry Experts Talk Sustainability at London Fashion Week
“Lead with purpose and profits will follow.” This mantra from Helen Sahi, RBIS’ senior director of Sustainability, echoed last week during a panel discussion at London Fashion Week. Hosted by the British Fashion Council and The Sustainable Angle, the ‘Future of Fashion: Sustainable Innovation at its Core’ panel presented a platform to call for businesses around the globe to take action and make a difference when it comes to sustainable fashion and retail. “Sustainability is smart business. Without wisely using the resources we need, there will be no business in the future,” explained Sahi.
At the top of the agenda was a dynamic conversation on what the future of fashion looks like and how sustainable innovation must be prioritized if we are going to achieve success in the road ahead. The discussion was moderated by Amanda Johnston, curator and consultant of The Sustainable Angle, with a panel featuring Helen Sahi; Daniel Lismore, artist, fashion designer and celebrity stylist; Henry Palmer, founder of Bysshe Fabrics; Arizona Muse, model, mother and world citizen; and Oya Barlas Bingul, business development manager, Lenzing.
"Lead with purpose and profits will follow."
Global demand for the latest designs and must-haves is not going away so how can we meet consumer demand while staying on track to meet our sustainability goals? We heard the notion of “lead with purpose and profits will follow,” a call from Helen Sahi for businesses around the globe to take action and make a difference. “Sustainability is smart business. without wisely and intelligently using the resources we need, there will be no business in the future,” explained Sahi.
According to Daniel Lismore, “brands have a responsibility to make it clear what is and what is not sustainable.” A recent announcement from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) indicated a concerted effort to partner with brands and retailers to do just this using the Higg index. Want to know how and where our garments were made? The Higg index will allow you to do this. Essentially acting as a star rating system, you will be able to compare two garments and understand the impact each one has on our planet - a big step forward in providing buying power to the people. Together, with the SAC, we will utilize our JanelaTM smart product solution from 2018 onward to enable consumers to interact with the labels on their clothes, providing access to the Higg index.
"Businesses need to innovate and reengineer to succeed as resources continue to deplete."
As consumers and businesses, we each have a role to play in caring for our environment and the people in it. For Lenzing, Bysshe and Avery Dennison, this means innovating around processes and developing materials for products that have a reduced impact on the environment: "Businesses need to innovate and reengineer to succeed as resources continue to deplete," shared Sahi.
Oya Barlas Bingul raised a point that, “consumers should care about what they are putting on their skin, we care about what we eat, so why not our clothes?”
As a world-renowned model, Arizona Muse is leading the way to raise awareness and promote a more sustainable fashion industry. “Sustainability is a mindset and it’s exciting. Give consumers a story and they will care, they want to know who made their clothes” she explained.
As a business with a clear set of 2025 sustainability goals, it was refreshing to be surrounded by likeminded business and individuals, instilling hope that by working together and making small steps, we can all make an enormous impact.