Last Wednesday I headed down to the Fashioning an Ethical Industry conference at The Rich Mix, London – a rather fitting venue in light of its former use as a garment factory. As this was my first FEI event I didn’t really know what to expect. The conference was opened by director Hannah Higginson, who introduced the first theme of the day, global sourcing. Bringing together speakers from all areas of the supply chain the audience consisted of fashion, marketing and business students as well as industry experts and designers. You could feel the tension in the audience as these difficult issues were discussed and feel the genuine passion for fairer and more ethical approaches to be applied within the fashion industry.
The speakers discussed difficulties surrounding production methods, working conditions and global sourcing. In attendance was a representative from ASDA to put forward their plans to become the forerunners in bringing ethical and affordable fashion to the high street.
A representative from People Tree addressed new grass roots approaches to re-skill workers. In particular the application of traditional and sustainable handicraft, eloquently referred to our hands being the oldest source of renewable energy.
One of the most inspiring talks of the day was by Dr Kate Fletcher, reader in sustainable fashion and textiles at London College of Fashion. She talked about systematic thinking and the complexity of the fashion industry. Kate advised that we should not look for one soul solution but instead seek out ways to inspire and initiate lots of small but effective changes, as this collectively can accumulate to change on a wider spectrum.
The day closed with delegates being divided into three workshops focusing on design, marketing and business. In teams we were challenged to address an ethical fashion dilemma. I found this part of the day particularly stimulating, I got to meet inspiring people who were passionate about fashion but committed to finding ethical ways to make, consume and engage.
Overall this was a great day, I left feeling really inspired and more educated about ethical sourcing. The day offered a holistic view of the sustainable issues challenging the fashion industry, and I think it motivated delegates to find small ways to contribute towards making a difference.
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