Last June in Frankfurt, 59 representatives — including numerous fashion councils, fashion weeks, and research and educational institutions representing more than 10,000 European companies, ranging from micro-enterprises to large corporations — from 23 European countries founded European Fashion Alliance (EFA). At the first summit on Gran Canaria, the members’ aim was to discuss and agree on a package of measures and actions that can support and promote the necessary transformation process in the fashion industry in Europe. The result, afterwards, is a package of those measures.
One of the meeting’s main topics was the Green Deal formulated by the European Union in 2019 to reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases to zero by 2050, to which the fashion industry must urgently contribute, according to the commitment of the EFA. The Alliance aims to contribute significantly to achieving a CO2-neutral, environmentally sustainable, non-toxic, and completely circular textile industry and to raise and sensitise the awareness of fashion producers, designers, and consumers. To this end, four pillars on which the targeted measures are to be based were defined during the meeting: sustainability, education, policy, and innovation. According to the Alliance, sustainability and digital transformation, together with innovation, education and labour market measures, will be the drivers for the fashion industry to make textiles more durable, repairable, reusable, and recyclable. To accelerate this transition process, EFA will therefore also focus on the cross-cultural exchanges and interactions between creatives and support young talents as drivers of change through actions, research and campaigning.
— Fashion goes beyond the market, it’s about culture. We are in a market economy; it also concerns those who are not in the market to understand that creative fashion can play a sustainable engine role more globally, says Pascal Morand, executive president, Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode.
Caroline Rush, CEO of British Fashion Council, explains that with common values and language and a common understanding of measurement tools, it is important for designers they have a good and common understanding of the framework that is expected from them in terms of sustainability, when they go into, for instance, France, Italy, Germany, or Denmark.
— In particular for small businesses that find it really challenging in terms of trading globally, she says. The more we ask them to look at the different measurements and standards, the more difficult it is for them to be able to trade. This is an opportunity to collaborate and break down those barriers.
— We should not only change the content of fashion, but also change the rules and goals of fashion. Fashion is often evaluated in economic terms by growth and numbers. But it is important to create value in cultural terms. To communicate what fashion can contribute to people’s well-being and what impact — positive and negative — it has on our society says Dilys Williams, Center For Sustainable Fashion.
Moreover, EFA will involve and empower young talents and voices by actively engaging them in leadership roles and activities within the organization alongside established brands and organisations.
For the coming four years, until 2027, European Fashion Alliance translates its belief, based on the four mentioned pillars, into four main objectives:
– Definition of an ethical social and sustainable code of conduct for EFA members and by extension for the fashion industry.
– A new Green Deal for fashion at European level representing fashion culture, and business, founded on a European-based circular and social fashion eco-system based on shared data and a shared measurement data system.
– Creation and enforcement of sustainable and technological training and social and cultural responsibility practices for EFA key stakeholders.
– Empowerment of Generation Z and the new generations as leading forces of value in digital, circular, and social transition of the fashion industry.
The members agree that this vision and objectives must be translated into concrete action plans and policy frameworks within the next two to three years to drive change. That’s why EFA will present a Europe-wide survey through its members this year, to investigate the needs and challenges of micro, small, medium and large enterprises operating in the fashion and textile industry, as well as education and research-oriented and other industry-related stakeholders. The knowledge gained from this will be used to create a priority-driven policy framework in response to the current legislation resulting from, for instance, the European Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles and the creation of new EU policies and programs to support fashion and creative industries. The aim is to give stakeholders a better understanding of European legislation — which is predicted to become especially helpful for many of the continent’s creative entrepreneurs… (Subscribe to our podcast to hear more on this legislation in a coming episode with Lisa Lang, Director Policy & EU Affairs Orchestrator at the EU’s main climate innovation initiative, Climate-KIC.)
With another fashion week season upon us, Copenhagen Fashion Week CEO Cecilie Thorsmark says that she and her international colleagues can take advantage of its position to accelerate change and demand change in order to move the industry forward.
— But fashion weeks must also take responsibility in sustainability, keeping in mind a reduced amount of resources in production and lower carbon emissions.
— We’ve been strengthening and highlighting the role of young creatives and brands in the transformation of the fashion industry since 2018. The fact that this is now being done at a European level through EFA will have an immense impact on the industry. Together, we’re creating the future we want, says Jennie Rosén, CEO, Swedish Fashion Council.
— The European Fashion Alliance is an important and strong network which — like no other — can make its contribution to changing the European fashion industry. Change doesn’t happen alone. It’s an industry interaction and that’s what EFA is. We have created an instrument that will prove itself in the years to come, says Scott Lipinski, Fashion Council Germany.