According to our Summit advisers, collaboration spanning geography and industry is integral to shaping the future of the fashion industry.
“It’s not a solo journey, we must find a way together,” remarked Julie Gilhart, a fashion consultant based in New York City and Special Adviser to Copenhagen Fashion Summit. Gilhart was responding to a question posed by the Global Fashion Agenda team on why it is more important than ever to come together and discuss how to future-proof the fashion industry once the corona pandemic subsides.
“It’s not a solo journey, we must find a way together.”
Julie Gilhart, Fashion Consultant
There’s no denying that COVID-19 has forced the fashion industry to do some serious soul searching, particularly in the last few months as supply chains have come to a grinding halt, workers let go and retailers forced to shut their doors. It’s a seismic shift for an industry whose success hinges on both fast-paced production combined with rampant consumption. As both small and large fashion companies reel from the setbacks already incurred from the economic consequences of the outbreak, questions surrounding fashion’s future have emerged.
We took this opportunity to reach out to the Summit’s Special Advisers—a group of individuals who represent different segments and geographies all connected to the fashion industry. Each of them provided their own two cents on what remains the most important step for the fashion milieu to take at this critical juncture. Underlying their responses was the recognition that the industry must come together if there is any possibility of achieving long-lasting solutions that are economically, environmentally and socially sound.
“We have been reminded that we are all connected…so let’s be truly connected,” said Veronica Chou, an investor who has worked with the Karl Lagerfeld brand and whose investment portfolios include working with prominent consumer tech companies such as Refinery29, RewardStyle, among many others.
“Let’s communicate and collaborate to solve problems to build a sustainable future for everyone,” advised Chou.
The road to rebuilding the fashion industry
Despite a global lockdown and anxiety brewing over a global recession, collaboration can offer hope in the face of the unfathomable. We all have our individual role to play in this crisis, but we must come together to ensure that the fashion industry’s next steps towards survival and sustainability are beneficial to everyone.
“It’s imperative that, in the interconnectedness of this virus, we recognise the need for interconnected solutions, that will not only recalibrate a failed system but elevate it to more mindful one,”
Bandana Tewari, Lifestyle Journalist and Sustainable Activist
“Covid-19 has upended our fashion system and exposed its vulnerability,” noted Bandana Tewari a lifestyle journalist and sustainability activist based in India. Tewari, who has written extensively about the fashion industry and was the Editor-in-Large of Vogue India for 13 years is acutely aware of the issues that have plagued the fashion industry, particularly in Southeast Asia.
“It’s imperative that, in the interconnectedness of this virus, we recognise the need for interconnected solutions, that will not only recalibrate a failed system but elevate it to more mindful one,” she said.
And by changing what we value, we can generate an attitude shift—a critical piece to future-proofing the business which our advisers, such as Miroslava Duma have identified as a next step for industry stakeholders.
“Through a combination of investing in new responsible materials and supply chains, creating transparency in communication with consumers and embracing new business models that celebrate fashion as more than just mindless consumption,” said Duma, founder and CEO of Future Tech Lab.
For others like Dio Kurazawa, the lessons are becoming clearer each day. “Mother Earth is cleansing herself of all man-made toxicity,” said Kurazawa, founder of The Bears Scouts.
“This pandemic has enabled all industries to witness our planet becoming cleaner. We cannot deny the positive impact this pause is having on our planet. We must align our priorities and become better stewards of our planet or face an even greater cleansing.”
Fashion is not the same industry as it once was prior to corona. For humanitarian and social entrepreneur, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, founder and Executive Chair of African Fashion International, a new period in fashion is emerging.
“Future-proofing fashion requires changing what we value – embracing transparency and humanness over short-lived gratification.”
Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, founder and Executive Chair, African Fashion International
“Fashion is entering a new era and business-as-usual approaches have proven unsustainable,” said Moloi-Motsepe. “Future-proofing fashion requires changing what we value – embracing transparency and humanness over short-lived gratification.”
But again, this new era will and cannot be a one-man operation. It will be a joint effort—and will require all hands on deck so to speak.
“The global crisis is an opportunity to truly change things for the better – we are all so interconnected, we can no longer hide behind the old ways of designing, producing and selling. The time is now to become a force for good in the world.”
Amber Valetta, Actress, Model and Entrepreneur
“We must all work together to modernize the future of fashion to ensure it is a creative, fair, innovative and informed industry,” said model Amber Valletta. “The global crisis is an opportunity to truly change things for the better – we are all so interconnected, we can no longer hide behind the old ways of designing, producing and selling. The time is now to become a force for good in the world.”
The time is now.
Learn more about all Special Advisers to the Summit.