Fashion’s biggest multi-stakeholder organizations are putting on a united front.
The Fashion Conveners, announced Monday, rallies nine of the industry’s leading organizers—the Apparel Impact Institute, Fashion for Good, Global Fashion Agenda, Fashion Makes Change, the Responsible Business Coalition at Fordham University, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Textile Exchange, the United Nations Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action and ZDHC—into one umbrella group, with the goal of pooling together shared knowledge, skills, data, research and networks to “accelerate the transformational change” necessary to reduce the fashion supply chain’s myriad social and environmental impacts.
The global coalition is a crystallization of informal talks that were already taking place behind the scenes to reduce redundancy and promote the adoption of shared goals, the initiative said in a statement.
“For some time now a number of the organizations represented in the Fashion Conveners have already been sharing information, ideas and even working together on joint projects,” it said. “The idea of the Fashion Conveners is to formalize this invaluable network of leading organizations to better leverage capabilities and identify opportunities to accelerate our collective and individual work.”
The current pandemic, it noted, “brought forward” the industry’s vulnerabilities to sudden supply-chain disruptions, making the need for greater resilience, particularly in the face of climate change, even more urgent. Sustainability, on the other hand, is both the road to recovery and the way forward.
“Covid-19 only further exposed the fragility of our industry’s value chain, yet [it] also served as evidence of the power of environmental, social and governance practices into action—a veritable proof of concept demonstrating that a more sustainable industry is a more resilient industry, capable of healing the planet and better supporting its people,” the group said.
While the Fashion Conveners hasn’t laid out a specific agenda “at this stage,” it says its central purpose is facilitating the communication of collective knowledge, skills and capabilities to promote the work of its member organizations, identify opportunities to reduce duplicative efforts and drive collective action by syncing up their metrics, frameworks, performance standards and “support for the delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
The Fashion Conveners is more networking vehicle than signatory group, since many of its individual members have already solicited commitments—to slash carbon emissions, say, or to reduce single-use plastic—from their own brand and retailer partners. As such, any bilateral or multilateral agreements that follow from discussions by the coalition fall under the purview of the individual organizations involved rather than with the Fashion Conveners as a whole.
“The Fashion Conveners are focused on harnessing the power of the group’s subject matter expertise, creativity, innovation and economies of scale to catalyze action with companies, brands and strategic partners, provide resources, support each other’s policy efforts and accelerate the industry’s adoption of more sustainable and ultimately regenerative practices,” it added.