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Fashionsustain: Sustainability Thought Leadership in Action

Messe Frankfurt took its Fashionsustain concept global with three new event destinations. Fashionsustain, which originated in Germany as a part of the Neonyt conference, the show’s reimagined green hub, debuted in Los Angeles, New York and Shanghai in May and September. The event brought the concept’s focus on collaboration, technology, sustainability and innovation to new audiences.

Through panels, speeches and networking, Fashionsustain creates an ecosystem designed to inspire the industry to think creatively and to band together to drive greater environmental responsibility across the supply chain.

Fashionsustain took place in the LA Fashion Festival with the theme “The change of fashion is now.” The festival featured two days of fashion film screenings, workshops, masterclasses, pop-ups and lectures. The Fashionsustain conference, which was presented in cooperation with Lenzing, featured speakers from Candiani, Global Denim and the Conscious Fashion Campaign. The “Godfather of Denim” Adriano Goldschmied was also a presenter.

Fashionsustain also debuted in Shanghai in September as part of the Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics trade fair. The show is an expansive, respected hub for all aspects of the textile industry so co-locating the sustainability conference created a perfect synergy for attendees.

“Intertextile is clearly a very large fair with a wide range of textiles, so this is where sustainability needs to sit. Not everything here is a sustainable textile at this point, but the fact that it’s such a big presence at the fair, and you can really feel some themes coming out at the fair, such as biodegradable polyester, natural dyeing methodologies and so on,” said Mikkel Hansen, program and partnership lead at Explorium, Fung Group. “You really see that kind of momentum picking up. It’s really interesting to see at such a broad, industry fair.”

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The robust program presented a variety of viewpoints on how the industry can further its efforts to create sustainable alternatives to traditional textile and textile making processes. The slate of speakers was kicked off by Edwin Keh of the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textile and Apparel. His presentation was followed by a discussion by executives from Hugo Boss, ReAccess, Forum for the Future and the Fung Group on creating textile innovation pilot projects and accelerating go-to-market timelines for new textiles. Following startup pitches by companies participating in the Fashion for Good, H&M Foundation and The Mills Fabrica accelerators, a panel featuring speakers from HeiQ, Lenzing, Invista and more focused on scaling innovative technologies.

In addition to the presentations, eco-friendly exhibitors showcased their latest innovations. Among them were Penfabric, the first fully integrated textile company to be awarded the Made in Green by Oeko-Tex label, which showcased its Go Green collection of recycled PET textiles, and Shaoxing Natave Textiles, which uses Lenzing’s EcoVero, Tencel and Modal to create supple fabrics suitable for women’s wear.

Attendees like Emily Franklin, innovation analyst for Fashion for Good, appreciated the depth and breadth of the topics covered at the event. “It’s a really important event where we can exchange ideas and learn about the perspectives of other people in the industry,” she said. “It’s very easy for organisations to stay in their own regions, where they can then fall silent. This is an opportunity for cross-collaboration for us in Asia, which is particularly important because so much of the fashion industry is present here.”

Marte Hentschel of Sourcebook said the addition of a sustainability conference to the Intertextile show made perfect sense. “The Fashionsustain conference has been extremely useful for networking with partners from inside the sustainability community and ecosystem, and outside,” she said. “This is the industry’s largest meeting point, and to really generate a positive sustainable impact on your supply chain, you have to meet with medium and large scale suppliers and manufactures, and Intertextile is the place to be for this.”

In May, the Fashionsustain conference had already made its New York debut during Texworld USA and Apparel Sourcing USA, the top textile fairs on America’s East Coast. With a compelling line up, keynote speaker Liz Hershfield, Head of Product Development, Production and Sustainability at Walmart eCommerce, gave her perspective and advice regarding necessary actions to work towards sustainable goals in the fashion industry. The one-day conference covered topics including transparency and traceability, challenges facing established brands, innovation in sustainable materials, and more.

The next Fashionsustain will take place in Berlin during Neonyt, the Global Hub for Fashion, Sustainability and Innovation, from January 14 to 16. Visit the Neonyt site to learn more.