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Time for a prosperous creative-driven future of fashion

10. Jan. 2023

Greener, more innovative, more creative – at the first summit on Gran Canaria, the members of the European Fashion Alliance “EFA” put together a package of measures and actions for a sustainable and inclusive future of the European fashion industry.

At the invitation of the Gran Canarian fashion network Moda Calida and the local authority Cabildo de Gran Canaria, the members of the European Fashion Alliance (EFA), founded in Frankfurt in June 2022, gathered in Maspalomas on October 19 and 20 during the Gran Canaria Swim Week – the only European Swim Wear Week - for their first summit.

The aim of the summit of 59 representatives from 23 European countries 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 alliance, which consists of 29 member organizations, including numerous fashion councils, fashion weeks, research and educational institutions, represents more than 10,000 European companies in the fashion sector, ranging from micro-enterprises to large corporations.

One of the main topics during the meeting was the “Green Deal” formulated by the European Union in 2019 by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases to zero by 2050, to which the fashion industry must also urgently contribute, according to the commitment of the EFA. Because the CO₂- and environmentally destructive footprint from textile production and fashion consumption is still huge.

The European Fashion 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 in Gran Canaria: sustainability, education, politics and innovation.

The European Fashion Alliance believes that sustainability and digital transformation, together with innovation, education and labor 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 therefor also focus on the cross-cultural exchanges and interactions between creatives and support young talents as drivers of change through actions, research and campaigning.

Caroline Rush, CEO British Fashion Council says “With common values and language and common understanding of measurement tools, it is important for our designers that when they go into France, Italy, Germany or Denmark or anywhere else, that they have a good and common understanding of the framework that is expected from them in terms of sustainability. In particular for small businesses that find it really challenging in terms of trading globally. The more we are asking 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.”

For the period from 2023 to 2027, the European Fashion Alliance translates this belief into four main objectives based on the four defined pillars:

1. Definition of an ethical, social and sustainable code of conduct for EFA members and by extension for the fashion industry.

2. 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.

3. Creation and enforcing of sustainable and technological training and social & cultural responsibility practices for EFA key stakeholders.

4. 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 the vision and objectives of the EFA must be translated into concrete action plans and policy frameworks within the next two to three years to drive change. This can only be achieved with a solid understanding of the needs and challenges of the fashion industry, especially the creative and design-oriented stakeholders.

Scott Lipinski, CEO Fashion Council Germany says: “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.”

For 2023, EFA will therefore launch a Europe-wide survey through its members 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 should enable EFA to create a priority-driven policy framework in response to the current legislation resulting from, amongst others, 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 – an area in which many creative entrepreneurs are still “lost in translation”.

Christiane Arp, Chairwoman Fashion Council Germany says “Fashion has to evolve in the cultural and social context to stay relevant. One of the tasks of the Fashion Councils is to promote and support a new generation of designers. The young creative people have the ability to change the fashion system sustainably and innovatively.”

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.

Statements by members of the European Fashion Alliance:

CARLO CAPASA – CAMERA NAZIONALE DELLA MODA ITALIANA “Our mission is to educate fashion consumers and brands about what it means to be sustainable and to give high value to creativity underlining our appreciation to all people behind the system. One of the main roles of the EFA is to involve our member brands in the storytelling of what is behind their products and to represent a new idea of the fashion of the future. By working together in the EFA, we can show other industries what can be achieved when everyone works together.”

PASCAL MORAND – FEDERATION DE LA HAUTE COUTURE ET DE LA MODE “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”

DILYS WILLIAMS – CENTER FOR SUSTAINABLE FASHION “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.”

CECILIE THORSMARK – COPENHAGEN FASHION WEEK “A fashion week can take advantage of its position to accelerate change and demand change – to move the industry forward. But fashion weeks must also take responsibility in sustainability, keeping in mind a reduced amount of resources in production, lower carbon – emissions, etc.

EDDIE SHANAHAN – COUNCIL OF IRISH FASHION DESIGNERS “If our goal is to create a sustainable fashion ecosystem, craftsmanship delivers two important things: high quality and durability. We must advocate for it, promote it, develop it further and explain how it adds value, not just in terms of price but in terms of culture as well.”

MARÍA LUISA MARTÍNEZ DÍEZ - GLOBAL FASHION AGENDA “Traditionally, many of the industry’s efforts have been voluntary, but proposed regulations are set to change this. As part of the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles, there are two crucial initiatives that will impact textiles: the Proposal for a Directive on empowering consumers for the green transition, expected to ensure consumers can make environmentally friendly decisions when buying products; and the ESPR (Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation), which will promote more sustainable product design and make sustainable products the norm.”
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