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Yesterday, key leaders in fashion and associated industries joined forces at Davos House during the World Economic Forum for an exclusive roundtable session, hosted by Global Fashion Agenda and with the participation of its patron, Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess of Denmark.

Hosted in collaboration with Project Everyone and SAP, the meeting centred around Global Fashion Agenda’s  launch of CEO Agenda 2019 for the fashion industry. Developed in collaboration with leading fashion players ASOS, BESTSELLER, H&M group, Kering, Li & Fung, Nike, PVH Corp., Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Target, CEO Agenda 2019 spells out the most crucial sustainability priorities for fashion industry leaders, offering them clear guidance on where to focus their sustainability efforts. CEO Agenda 2019 has been updated to reflect global developments, highlighting climate change as a new core priority.

Read the full CEO Agenda 2019.

Nader Mousavizadeh, co-founder and Co-CEO of Macro Advisory Partners moderated the roundtable, and participants included: HRH the Crown Princess of Denmark; Eva Kruse, CEO and President, Global Fashion Agenda; Alicia Tillman, CMO, SAP; Simon Platts, Sourcing Director, ASOS; Hendrik Alpen, Sustainability Engagement Manager, H&M group; Seth Ellison, Executive Vice President and President, Europe, Levi Strauss & Co.; Kristian Jensen, Danish Minister for Finance; Mira Duma, founder and CEO, Future Tech Lab; Andras Forgacs, CEO, Modern Meadow, Anita Dongre, CCO, House of Anita Dongre; Dr Precious, Moloi-Motsepe, Deputy Chairman and CEO, Motsepe Foundation, and others.

The conversation addressed how industries can play an active role in the acceleration of more sustainable practices and new business models.

During the roundtable, participants discussed several topics, including:

The impact of digitisation

Many attendees commented on the opportunities that technology creates, and that harnessing digitisation is a key priority. Fashion leaders should draw from other industries that are utilising new technology already, to identify the best processes.

Respectful and secure work environments

Other participants stated that the most important issue is fair labour practices and establishing local knowledge and local skills. By creating sustainable localities and teaching small villages needed crafts, brands can help to create sustainable environments and positively impact communities. They emphasised that it is important for fashion brands to help educate young people and to find ways to collaborate with locals.

Supply chain traceability

The participants agreed that transparency is key. A significant challenge that the industry faces is the lack of transparency within the supply chain. By candidly presenting business operations processes and making information about them openly accessible, brands can build trust among consumers and the industry.

Consumer proposition

Others noted importance of the consumer. “You have to keep going back to the consumer proposition,” said Seth Ellison, Executive Vice President and President, Europe, Levi Strauss & Co. “We don’t want to punish consumers for wanting to buy new products, but we want to lead them to a new place, and a new understanding of what exactly it means to consume in our world today.” 

Providing support to help companies become sustainable

Political representatives stated that companies should be rewarded for their sustainability efforts. Leaders must push politicians to agree to a global approach to taxes to allow the establishment of a fairer tax for businesses that are making positive transformations.

Promotion of better wage systems

Fashion leaders must set out to achieve fair living wages across the supply chain. Though factories are becoming more automated, if they build management systems that are closely connected to the skills of workers, they will continue to learn and develop. When this occurs, wages can gradually increase in step with the improvement of skills, as manufacturing becomes more automated.

Comments from roundtable participants

Eva Kruse, CEO and President, Global Fashion Agenda, emphasised that: “Hosting this event within the context of the globally recognised World Economic Forum is a pivotal moment. We urgently need to come together to implement industry-wide sustainable business practices and the roundtable created an open dialogue to facilitate industry-wide collaboration.”

Hendrik Alpen, Sustainability Engagement Manager, H&M, stated: “It’s great to see so many stakeholders come together to exchange insights and determine our shared priorities. Doing so will safeguard our industry. It’s clear from our discussion that the transition towards a circular and climate-positive business model is key, and we must also ensure the jobs created along our value chains are fair and equal.”

Alicia Tillman, CMO, SAP, affirmed that: “SAP shares a joint commitment with Global Fashion Agenda to accelerate the impact of sustainability initiatives in fashion. SAP’s purpose is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives, and we do this by helping our customers innovate to run at their best, including our customers who I was pleased to join in the roundtable. We want to continue to be part of leading a global conversation around facilitating industry-wide collaboration to accelerate the impact of sustainable business practices in the fashion industry.”

Nader Mousavizadeh, co-founder and Co-CEO, Macro Advisory Partners, underlined that: “The measure of a good session like this is that the conversation ends in a different place compared to where it starts. I think what we’ve done today, through the extraordinary group that Global Fashion Agenda has convened under the patronage for HRH the Crown Princess of Denmark, is bringing together the inspirational and emotional nature of fashion, tying that to an agenda that more and more young people understand involves sustainability and employing technology to try and advance all of this. Bringing together such a diverse group of people with some of the biggest companies in the world gave us a really rich discussion.”