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More Education Is Required for Fashion to Achieve UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals

When it comes to sustainability in fashion, no significant change can be made in silos. The United Nations Office for Partnerships is working to unite the fashion industry in accordance with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will lead to a more sustainable future.

At Kingpins New York last week, leaders from the Conscious Fashion Campaign, Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and Gap outlined what needs to be done to achieve these goals that touch on clean water and energy, climate change, responsible production and more. And according to them, change will come by focusing on three areas: collaboration, innovation and circularity.

“It needs to be easier for companies to access knowledge,” Michele Sizemore, Gap’s senior vice president of production, said. “Many companies want to do the right thing but don’t know how.”

According to Sizemore, instilling an open source platform for industry leaders to share innovations would allow companies to make a greater impact and more quickly achieve the SDGs, which the UN hopes to achieve by 2030.

“We have a great responsibility to do better,” she said. “How can we make it easier for people to do the right thing?”

For smaller brands that may not have the budget or access to resources, that can be especially challenging.

CFDA, a nonprofit that consists of more than 500 designers across America, highlighted one of its members’ solutions that enables brands of all sizes to produce responsibly. V-to, a project initiated by Public School’s designers, involves creating “sustainable blanks” upon which brands can create their own designs.

Trade shows are another source of knowledge sharing that can benefit companies of all sizes. By highlighting key innovations at major industry events, Conscious Fashion Campaign’s founder Kerry Bannigan hopes to facilitate some of the knowledge exchange that’s needed in fashion.

“We’re focusing on trade shows to champion the incredible work fashion is doing,” she said. “We want to bridge the gap between the UN and the fashion industry.”