Prosperity vs. Growth
How can we design a thriving fashion industry that creates prosperity for all people, communities, and the planet?
The theme for this year’s digital edition of Copenhagen Fashion Summit, CFS+, is Prosperity vs. Growth which represents the silent challenge between the two terms. Whilst they can be seen as contrasting, they can also be seen as equal. Depending on perspective, the terms can be argued as mutually exclusive, or in fact reliant on one another. Thus, this theme creates a constructive and action-focused dialogue about the limitations and possibilities presented within the sphere of the two terms. A few important aspects to consider include:
How does the fashion industry currently define the two essential terms of prosperity and growth?
In what ways can these terms operate in harmony and when do they clash? And what is the root of the tension between them in the context of fashion?
From what social and environmental perspective should prosperity be understood and how can fashion maintain growth simultaneously?
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO ADDRESS
The fashion industry is one of the largest, most resource intensive industries. It is a powerful engine for global growth and development and plays a pivotal role in increasing people’s awareness of global issues and affecting behavioural changes. The current model, however, is pushing the earth beyond its planetary boundaries and challenging social justice.
Even though the industry continues to improve its social and environmental performance, it is still far from sustainable, and fashion companies are not implementing sustainable solutions fast enough to e.g. adhere to the Paris Agreement. In turn, an industry primarily built on short-term financial incentives has many consequences, including the continuous creation of new collections, trends fuelling the demand to consume new products, overproduction driving prices down and underuse leading to vast amounts of waste.
In a time when new technology is disrupting traditional business models, and upcoming legislation will increase regulation in the industry, businesses and organisations have the opportunity to re-evaluate the current growth logic and call for systemic change. Redesigning the concept of growth is one of the biggest systemic issues of our time and, as such, Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) seeks to challenge the traditional concepts of growth and prosperity.
The challenge of effectively decoupling growth from its negative impacts on resource consumption and reimagining the evolution of growth-based systems, is not only the biggest challenge for the fashion industry but the biggest challenge for our globe and our societies. Hence the findings and solutions that will be brought to life under the theme of Prosperity vs. Growth will be of value to other industries, as well as the evolution of the political and economic structures that govern how resources are spent and allocated.
Together, we must work towards identifying solutions for a thriving industry that creates prosperity for all people and communities by working within planetary boundaries, reversing its impact on climate change and protecting biodiversity.
HOW WE DEFINE THE TERMS
Prosperity: GFA seeks to challenge the understanding that prosperity is only material and economic success. Instead, the fashion industry must create prosperity for all people and communities by working within planetary boundaries, protect employment, reduce inequality, protect biodiversity, and reverse the impact on climate change.
Growth: GFA seeks to challenge the continued pursuit of economic growth and encourages an understanding that growth must not be at the expense of the planet, people, and communities in our societies. For a prosperous future, the fashion industry must find a way to deliver both financial, social, and ecological stability.