Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2019: A Summary

Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Last month, the annual Copenhagen Fashion Summit celebrated its tenth anniversary with the motto “10 Years of Rewriting Fashion”.

Held on the 15th and 16th May, the summit discussed the state of sustainability in the fashion industry. Fashion leaders, politicians, NGOs, creative directors and innovators from around the world gathered at the Copenhagen Concert Hall to review the issue.

The Copenhagen Fashion Summit is organised by the Global Fashion Agenda, a leadership forum dedicated to industry collaboration on sustainability in fashion. This year, all participants and organisers focused on the need to correct the bad practices that have become ingrained in the fashion industry with the rise of fast fashion. The summit recognised that with the current state of the climate crisis, the fashion industry needs to take responsibility and change its system.

According to the Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2019 report, if the industry makes no changes to its current mode of operation, fashion will continue to be directly responsible for mass contributions towards climate change and environmental pollution. This will have a profound effect on the average global temperature, increasing the likelihood that a 1.5C rise in global average temperature will be exceeded, impeding the current Paris Agreement goal.

The report also highlighted that the industry’s environmental progress has actually slowed by about a third despite the rapidly growing support for sustainability efforts. Although the industry now has more social activists, organisations, influencers and industry experts than ever before openly discussing and celebrating sustainability, little progress has actually been made to correct the issues that have plagued the industry for the last few decades.

Production and profit are still the driving forces behind this lucrative industry and steps need to be taken to create a responsible future. Safeguarding the environment is the main challenge. During the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, brands, companies, and organisations each presented new initiatives to tackle the problem.

Copenhagen Fashion Summit Fanfare

Image Credits: Global Fashion Agenda

Nike, a representative of the Global Fashion Agenda, announced its Circular Design Workbook. The workbook will help designers and product creators by providing guidelines that have a common language for circularity.

François-Henri Pinault, CEO of luxury group Kering, revealed that he was commissioned by the French President, Emmanuel Macron, to create a coalition of CEOs and top companies in the sector with the aim of setting sustainability goals.

Google announced a partnership with Stella McCartney to measure the environmental impact of the fashion industry through a new tool. The tool uses data analysis and machine learning on Google Cloud to provide brands with a broader view of their supply chain.

Multiple organisations collaborated to make a new manifesto that acknowledges the importance of a circular economy. The manifesto invites politicians to rethink the methods that can be used to establish a more circular fashion system.

The Global Fashion Agenda also hosted seven leadership round tables, where fashion leaders, NGO representatives and government officials met to discuss the most pressing sustainability issues in the fashion industry and how to resolve them.

Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Image Credits: The Current Daily and Kim Gerlach

This year, the Copenhagen Fashion Summit featured a broader Innovation Forum, allowing both small and large companies to meet with over 50 sustainable solution providers who equipped them with tools to turn words into meaningful actions.

This year, the Copenhagen Fashion Summit featured a broader Innovation Forum, allowing both small and large companies to meet with over 50 sustainable solution providers who equipped them with tools to turn words into meaningful actions.

The summit is an important event to develop sustainability and industrial innovations, but the major drivers of sustainability are the brands that will provide a new model for the fashion industry – one that is ethical, sustainable and responsible.

The struggle for sustainable fashion began long before the inception of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. Two decades before the founding of the summit, fast fashion and unsustainable production models were already starting to permeate into the industry. The birth of these forums and annual campaigns were a call for change. Although there is still a lot that needs to be done, industry leaders and organisations are taking greater responsibility for their actions.

This is a huge step and it is one that can lead to a more hopeful future.


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