The in-person all day meeting of great minds for the British Fashion Council (BFC) x Institute of Positive Fashion Forum happened on Thursday, June 30 2022. We sent Gemma Metheringham (@the_elephant_in_my_wardrobe) out to soak it all in, and here she shares her key takeaways from a day focused on how to make the British fashion industry a more caring and sustainable one.

"Stephanie Phair, Chair of the BFC, started the second Institute of Positive Fashion Forum by saying it wasn’t your usual conference and I think we all hoped she was right! Chris Sanderson, co-founder of the Future Laboratory, told us fashion needs to slash total carbon emissions by 50% in the next eight years to be on track for keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees. There was clearly work to be done and the structure of the day complete with breakout groups was designed to get stakeholders working together to identify and prioritise solutions.

This inspiring quote from the BFC’s Circular Fashion Ecosystem report, published last month seemed to sum up the opportunity presented to us. “Fashion sits across innovation, creativity, culture and self expression, and is unique in the way it influences society. If transformed to be regenerative and equitable through circularity it can serve to be a blueprint for others” Shailja Dube, Institute of Positive Fashion Lead.

Caroline Rush - Chief Executive of the BFC - says the report aims to provide an "actions-orientated blueprint for the future of fashion," looking to "accelerate the transition to a circular fashion economy that can thrive in its own right." The plan is to test circular city fashion frameworks in London and Leeds which could be replicated countrywide.

Inspiring stuff! The elephant in the room is that the way we all consume fashion will need to change. Key to meeting climate targets is buying less. Is there an opportunity for an industry like fashion, rooted as it is in communication and creative storytelling, to create positive and inspiring stories about buying less and re-wearing and caring for the clothes we already own? To look at how we can encourage people to invest in their future, not new products? It's a debate that's still ongoing.

Inclusion and diversity of perspectives was a consistent theme through the day. To challenge the status quo we need to collaborate and give the platform to innovators from the Global South. Proportionately, according to Unesco, developing countries are publishing the most sustainable research globally!

Kate Raworth, the creator of Doughnut Economics set the tone for the day by asking us to reimagine a world where no one gets left behind. A world where “we meet the needs of all within the means of the planet”. Asking us to rethink both the design of our cities and business models and recreate them as beneficial to both people and the planet.

What’s great is that as Eva Kruse, SVP Global Impact and Engagement Pangaia, said there is “an ocean of new opportunities and innovations” being created. Pangaia is certainly pressing ahead collaborating on making lenses from CO2 emissions and printing tees with dyes made from air pollution. There was also talk of biodegradable plastics made from seaweed and lab grown leathers. The big question is how quickly can we bring these initiatives to scale.

We were treated to a sneak peek of Amy Powney’s Fashion Reimagined film. An honest account of a brand trying to trace their materials in a complex and disconnected global supply change. Amy’s idea was to inspire “by showing what you can achieve with very little money and a lot of heart”. If we in the industry can’t find all the answers how can we expect consumers to know what to ask?

And how will the metaverse impact all of the above? Who knows? Robert Triefus, Executive VP of Brand and engagement at Gucci encouraged us to embrace being playful and experimental in this new space. To test and learn now because we are “at the beginning of something that is happening”.

And that seemed to sum up the day! Keep testing, learning and asking difficult questions to accelerate the changes we want to see in our industry." - Gemma Metheringham

Tags: BFC , IPFF , Sustainability