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The Global Fashion Summit 2024 Pushes Sustainability Forward



As the world opens itself up to the sustainability in fashion, the Global Fashion Summit 2024 calls for industry leaders, brands, and consumers to level up.

At the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen, the question is, “What’s next?” Fifteen years ago, the summit began to lead the movement toward progressing sustainability in fashion. Fifteen years have come by, and it is now time to see how far the conversation has come.

In 2009, the idea of sustainability in fashion was rarely heard of. Words and phrases such as “sustainable fashion” and “circularity” hadn’t been used in dialogue at the time. This scattered lexicon and ideas, and the lack of discussion within the industry, prompted Eva Kruse to mount the first Copenhagen Fashion Summit. “At first it was a one-off, and then because it felt like we were on to something, we decided to make it more than one, and one led to the other,” she shares during this year’s summit. “But I always thought we would become obsolete.”

Courtesy of Global Fashion Agenda

“I am disappointed in all of us, myself included, that we haven’t been able to push further forward,” she continues. Fashion critic Vanessa Friedman, Global Fashion Agenda’s Peder Michael Jorgensen, and fashion consultant Julie Gilhart, who are also keynote speakers at this year’s summit, have all expressed their disappointment with the slow progress made within the fashion industry. “I would’ve thought that responsible fashion would be the default, not the exception,” Gilhart says.

“We’re really good at talking about the problems fashion has created and its role in the climate crisis,” Friedman says. She highlights that although the industry now recognizes innovative, sustainable ideas and designs, more action needs to be taken. “The last woman who won the Sustainable Design Award from the Council of Fashion Designers in America, Mara Hoffman, just announced she was closing her business because she didn’t see didn’t see a path forward,” Friedman shares during the talk. 

Courtesy of Global Fashion Agenda

On that note, the Global Fashion Summit 2024 is not only pushing the dialogue forward but also taking impactful action. With the theme “Unlocking the Next Level,” this year’s special edition of the Fashion CEO Agenda presents five opportunities for fashion executives and the industry to unlock transformative impact for people and the planet. These five key opportunities are: operationalizing sustainability, redefining growth, activating consumers, prioritizing people, and mobilizing based on materiality. Made for fashion brands, retailers, and producers, these opportunities in the special edition map out the strategic shifts needed to drive systemic change and accelerate holistic sustainability progress. 

Federica Marchionni, the CEO of Global Fashion Agenda, expands on this year’s edition: “The Fashion CEO Agenda 2024 aims to help leaders to shift their mindset, providing clear unlocks for embracing the challenges for future proofing their businesses and operations. I urgently encourage leaders to work closely with cross-functional teams, use empathy, and values-based approach that prioritizes the planet and the well-being of the people. By doing so, we secure the foundation of our businesses and not only deliver financial returns but also positive impact on the world around us.”

Courtesy of Global Fashion Agenda

The urgency to accelerate progress stems from the alarming escalation of global warming and the exponential rise in clothing production. With these things in mind, Kruse urges leaders, brands, and consumers to contribute to the cause. “We know what to do. I honestly think we’re missing the train if we don’t really bring some of these to scale,” Kruse says. Gilhart adds to the discussion: “This is our planet; it’s our children; it’s our family; it’s everything that gives us joy, so it is important. It’s not just ‘fashion.’”

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