There was a lot of noise about sustainability at Fashion 4 Development’s 10th Annual First Ladies Luncheon Tuesday.
As well as the pomp of hosting Royalty and Excellencies, there were a number of speakers and award winners working on the future of greener fashion. Fashion 4 Development or F4D is a global platform founded by Evie Evangelou dedicated to supporting the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The idea is that fashion, if done at its best, could have an outsized impact on sustainability and development around the world.
New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, who designed and introduced the “Fashion Act,” set the tone at the locally guided luncheon hosted at 583 Park, speaking about the realities of fashion’s current position and where it is headed from can go out here.
“The fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change on the planet,” she said. “It is responsible for between 4 and 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and the world’s gas footprint, and if left unchecked, industry will be responsible for more than a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050, and yet industry is here to stay largely unregulated.”
With the “Fashion Act,” Biaggi said, the goal is to get companies to “comply with mandatory due diligence requirements to improve their labor practices and reduce their impact on our planet.”
“This law is an invitation,” she added. “It is an invitation for governments, companies, manufacturers and activists to come together to improve the fashion industry by setting and meeting science-based environmental standards and improving labor practices. And I really hope that this law is the first of many, not just in this country but around the world and as an example of raising the bar incredibly high and making sure that we all understand the role that we play to play .”
Katla is a company that didn’t need an invitation to work by any other standard. That’s why the conscious loungewear brand received this year’s Fashion 4 Development Award and was named one of the organization’s Goodwill Ambassadors.
Accepting the award and new role, Aslaug Magnusdottir, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Katla, also the co-founder of Moda Operandi, took her own opportunity to leave behind some facts about the reality of fashion.
“Of the 100 billion pieces of clothing produced worldwide each year, more than 50 billion end up in landfill within a year. I have a three-month-old son, Ocean, and by the time Ocean turns 20, that’s going to be 1 trillion new clothes in the landfill,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be reality.”
Tote bags featuring the usual conference swag were provided by Katla, made with a zero-waste design and complete with a QR code patch offering full transparency on where the product came from and how it was made. Katla’s goal, she said, “is to reinvent the way the fashion business is run.”
And that’s one of Magnusdottir’s first responsibilities as F4D Global Ambassador.
“Katla and Fashion 4 Development join forces to be part of a major research project by the International Trade Center in Geneva, the UN agency for trade. And the goal of this project is to invent a new model for fashion that is aligned with the UN’s 2030 SDGs,” she said. “What we are striving for there are actually more profitable companies, but at the same time companies that significantly reduce wasteful overproduction and that lead to the rise of women in the industry. I invite you all to join this movement to make the fashion industry more sustainable.”
One goal of the project, Magnusdottir told WWD, is “to accelerate access to data science where there is none in the ‘upstream’ supplier community. The fashion industry has the greatest potential in the world to improve the lives of women. From the buyer to the maker, women are multipliers of good in their communities.”
Themes for the day included women’s empowerment, philanthropy and sustainable fashion – complete with a runway show themed ‘Ten Decades of Fashion 1920-2020’ curated by New York Vintage founder Shannon Hoey and designer Bonnie Young of BY. Bonnie Young. Featuring a mix of pieces from Young’s collection and vintage designers, the show showcased the idea of refreshing the past for modern fashion using zero-waste, locally made and recycled materials.
But the overarching message of the day, and Point founder Evangelou wanted to drive home: “It’s very important that we educate consumers about how to lead a more sustainable lifestyle,” she said. “It’s not going to change just by holding conferences and meetings with companies and things like that. We need to change demand to change supply.”