Eminent fashion experts convene in Boston to spur sustainability action

Fashion leaders and industry stakeholders convened for the renowned Global Fashion Summit: Boston Edition to mobilise action towards a net positive industry.

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Hosted in Boston, Massachusetts on 27 September, Global Fashion Summit convened hundreds of esteemed representatives from brands, retailers, NGOs, policy, manufacturers, and innovators to transform ambition into action. The Summit was presented by Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), the non-profit organisation that is accelerating the transition to a net positive fashion industry, and marked the first edition of Global Fashion Summit in North America since the forum’s launch in 2009 as a side-event to COP15 in Copenhagen.

The Boston edition further explored Global Fashion Agenda’s 2023 editorial theme, ‘Ambition to Action’, while reflecting on and responding to what happened at Global Fashion Summit: Copenhagen Edition in June. By bringing Global Fashion Summit to Boston – a renowned hub for technology, innovation, and education – the Summit presented a deeper exploration of the global challenges, differences, and opportunities towards a more sustainable value chain. The Innovation Forum is a key pillar of GFA’s work, making Boston an apt location to showcase pioneering industry solution providers.

Attendees heard from over 40 speakers from a range of companies and organisations such as, Levi Strauss & Co., TapestryNeiman Marcus GroupThunder Voice HatH&M GroupAlice and OliviaBBC StoryWorksNew Standard InstituteConservation InternationalWorldly, Trove, Ceres, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd; and many more. This Summit also featured a remarkable number of Indigenous speakers on the programme. View all speakers.

The Summit’s second international edition facilitated inspiring thought leadership and exchanges around key themes including: Policy, Finance and Retail, while also complementing the core priorities of the Fashion CEO Agenda: Respectful and Secure Work Environments, Better Wage Systems, Resources Stewardship, Smart Material Choices and Circular Systems. The programme featured bold panels, case studies, and leadership roundtables reflecting on topics including ‘Indigenous Leadership Perspectives’, ‘Exploring Fashion’s ESG Concept’, ‘On The Ground: Adaptation or Mitigation?’, ‘The Global Approach to Circularity’, and ‘Innovation for Value Chain Challenges’.

At the Summit leadership roundtable meetings took place covering topics that were carefully curated by GFA including: ‘Harmonising Retail’s Approach to Sustainability’, ‘Extended Producer Responsibility for Textiles on Both Sides of the Atlantic’ and ‘The Future of Sustainable Fashion Education’.

New sustainability initiatives and tools were featured at the event 

Highlights include:

  • GFA published Fashion CEO Agenda 2023 — a concise report to support the establishment and implementation of leadership strategies to achieve a net positive fashion sector. In a first for the Fashion CEO Agenda, this edition has been developed to include subsequent action areas for brands, retailers, and producers. Download the resource here.
  • GFA unveiled the latest response to the GFA Designer Challenge 2023, presented by Smiley. Julius Juul, Creative Director & Co-Founder, Heliot Emil, created an alliance with Upcycle Labs. The outcomes were showcased at the Summit through the release of a captivating new video depicting the journey of the designer. Watch the video here.
  • GFA launched the GFA Policy Matrix: Americas – a non-exhaustive document that encapsulates a wide array of policy efforts across the Americas. The Matrix complements the GFA Policy Matrix: EU edition released in June and summarises the key legislations going on implicating the textiles industry. Download the Matrix here.
  • Taking a glimpse into the dynamic world of fashion and textiles, the Summit presented a new online series titled ‘Fashion Redressed’ that was launched on 19 September with a collection of unique stories. This series expresses the creativity of the fashion world, spotlighting those who are working to find the stylish side of a more sustainable sector. Explore the series here.
  • Trove and Worldly delved into their newly launched study, ‘Circular Strategies Can Lead to Significant Carbon Reduction in the Fashion Industry’, which reveals where and how circular models play an important role for brands working to reduce their emissions when combined with upstream supply chain interventions. Read more.
  • The eight members of the first iteration of GFA’s Next Gen Assembly presented their manifesto via a powerful video message to attendees – outlining their aims and ambitions for the groups’ continued work to impact the fashion industry by supporting a sustainable trajectory.
  • The recently launched report ‘Higher Ground’, by ILR Global Labour Institute and Schroders, was discussed during the session ‘On The Ground: Adaption or Mitigation?’ The report covers the impacts of climate change on global apparel production. Read more.
  • During the Global Circular Fashion Forum session, the Alliance for Chemical Textile Recycling (ACTR) was launched, representing a group of textile chemical recyclers for cotton, polyester, and blends. The alliance seeks to contribute to solutions for addressing the textile industry’s impact on society, the environment, and businesses.

The Innovation Forum connected fashion companies with sustainable solution providers

Global Fashion Summit: Boston Edition also presented an Innovation Forum, enabling small and large companies to meet with 14 sustainable solution providers from across the value chain– equipping them with the concrete tools to expedite meaningful actions. GFS Connect facilitated over 90 connections between fashion companies and exhibitors during the Summit.

Federica Marchionni Chief Executive Officer
"The transformation to a circular economy requires collective efforts beyond the capabilities of any individual agent or company. Therefore, we are honoured to be coordinating this multistakeholder partnership between a group of esteemed organisations. True circularity can only be realised through proactive measures in manufacturing regions, and the resounding message from this event is that Bangladesh is poised to be the global leader in recycled materials, provided it effectively harnesses the potential of post-industrial waste. With increasing momentum in brand demand and legislations materialising globally, I am confident that Bangladesh can create an ecosystem to expedite this opportunity."

Content from Global Fashion Summit: Boston Edition is available in an on-demand video library.
For more information about the Summit visit globalfashionsummit.com.
Learn more about Global Fashion Agenda at globalfashionagenda.org.

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