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The Brutal Reality…. Climate Reality

What does fashion have to do with the climate? Well, what I used to say was… our Earth is a system of four spheres- atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere. These four are interconnected and when fashion pollutes one sphere (for instance dumping wastewater from this season’s neon pink dye into local waterways) that sphere’s pollutant, in turn, causes damage to the other three spheres. That’s the way a system works; and when we burn fuel to transport tons of fibers, fabrics, buttons and clothing around the globe we release carbon dioxide into the air, which in turn, causes damage to the other three spheres. That’s what I used to say.

Now I say something different, because back in May I decided to apply for the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, an organization founded by former Vice-President Al Gore. My thoughts were, if accepted, I’d learn a few scientific facts on climate-change, which I’d then weave into my four spheres recitation and other fashion sustainability work. I thought in having those hard facts I would further translate the urgency of changing a company’s current fashion production and supply chain model. I would be more successful I thought and basically applied to help myself professionally.

In July I was accepted. I excitedly freed up my schedule for four days in October and, when the date came, flew merrily to Pittsburgh. From the moment I found my seat on the plane- the trip was exciting. My seat mate looked at me and said, “I’m en route to Pittsburgh to be trained by Al Gore.” “Me too!” said I. We chatted the whole flight. His dad, a few rows up…. also being trained. Those two across the aisle…. being trained, too. In line for the restroom…. also being trained! Giddy, and now part of a movement, we flew into Pittsburgh to learn the “Inconvenient Truth”.

Arriving at the hotel, I popped in the hotel bar and… climate reality trainees. At breakfast… climate reality galore! I was surrounded by strangers, all eager-eyed, pumped and ready to go! I hadn’t felt that energized with a bunch of people I didn’t know since…. well since wearing a pussy hat last January in DC!

With enthusiasm and smiles, we all shuttled to the city’s LEED-certified convention center. 1,300 of us were in attendance and the training did not disappoint. Nor did Al Gore, who kicked us off with a two-hour Climate Reality slide show that was visual, impactful, unsettling, eye-opening, alarming.

First off, this was much better than my explanation of the four spheres….. I sat there realizing even more urgently how fashion must change and how we must change now. Our earth and it’s atmosphere is so fragile.

Source: Nasa

Did you know that if you painted a layer of shellac on a classroom globe, you would create the same proportion of thickness of that of our atmosphere’s troposphere and the stratosphere to the Earth? It’s true. It is that thin. And if you drove a car perpendicularly up from any point on earth- you’d reach the end of the atmosphere in just six miles. Here’s another fact we trainees learned: Between all the global mass production, air freight, ocean shipping, land transport, agriculture, landfills, and oil production…. we are putting 110 million tons of manmade global warming pollution into our atmosphere every single day. Every 24 hours we release millions of tons of CO2 and other gases- onto our ceiling! Our beloved fashion industry is responsible for a great deal of these emissions. How much no one can calculate exactly, but as per Stella McCartney and Ellen MacArthur’s new report published this month, fashion emits 1.2 billion tons of greenhouses gases each year- which is more than all the international flights and ocean container ships combined. McCartney and MacArthur’s findings reminded me of Al Gore’s video clip of the Hiroshima bomb going off. He equates what we humans put into the air each day as the equivalent of the emissions of 400,000 Hiroshima bombs per day. Kaboom!

We’ve got to change faster than planned and we need new changes. This is bigger than just neon pink dye running off into the village’s water supply while making velour sweatsuits. We must change now. Al Gore presents his visuals with passioned, yet matter-of-fact, explanations and goes through slide after slide of extreme worldwide weather events, such as the numerous hurricanes we’ve had recently, the plethora of extremely hot days, and the increase in flooding. He explains evaporation from the oceans is the same process that pulls water from the soil and causes droughts and the longer more harmful fire seasons we are experiencing. Gore then presents in detail how these and other climate changes affect our global food and water supplies, as well as all the health impacts, such as the sharp increase in allergens, ticks, and infectious diseases. Gore deeply discusses the melting ice caps in Antartica and Greenland and the rising sea levels. Then we see a most-startling slide with a large graph titled Top 10 Cities at Risk from Sea Level Rise in 2070… and youza…..New York is third- in the world. These aren’t musings or fake-news type facts Mr. Gore is presenting, these are science and the sources are up there in front of us with each slide. Gore started the day with a question, “Must We Change?” After these grueling images, we all know the answer is, “Yes.”

But Mr. Gore is optimistic… he announces we have solutions at hand and clicks through multiple slides showing solar panel and wind turbine installation and explains how prices are dropping for both. We see many buildings, homes, huts, and cities with gleaming alternative-energy panels and mills. We’re shown that we can do this without fossil fuels, yes- without coal and oil extraction. We learn that wind alone can supply our worldwide electrical consumption 40 times over! Another uplifting fact we see on screen is US solar energy jobs are growing 17 times faster than the overall economy, and there’ll be over 2.6 million new jobs in solar, wind and energy-efficiency sectors in the next few years here in the US.

I am getting excited… how can I help fashion with this training? I have been discussing more responsible and sustainable sourcing and design development for years… but this is energy. This can make a big change, this is not one company switching away from viscose. This involves our industry designing energy-efficient machines, factories and processes. I start imaging solar-powered sewing machines, ironing boards and buttonhole machines. Wind-powered digital printers, laser cutters, and circular knitting machines dance in my head. We can do this. We can convert our existing machinery. We can work together to cease putting chemicals and greenhouse gases in our air. Fashion sets the trends and if we work hard and collboratively we can embrace the high-tech, renewable, clean energy movement and make our clothing in new-energy trend-setting factories and mills! If you are interested, I can share with your company Gore’s slide show, we can discuss designing with energy-efficiency and producing with clean energy. The time is now.

Al Gore was up on that stage for three days moderating panels of scientists, research professors, and speakers that included a director at Tesla and a coal miner’s daughter! The training was inspirational and motivational. Our air is heating up, so too are our oceans, we have more intense and powerful storms, and our around-the-clock global manufacturing and fossil-burinng lifestyle has created this situation. This will continue – unless we make some dramatic changes. Well, one thing I know is that fashion loves drama. So here’s the dramatic reality: The climate will soon make areas of the planet uninhabitable. Those of us alive today must deal with this crisis. It’s a crisis each of us didn’t directly create directly, and although we would certainly prefer to go on dealing the way we have been dealing, we cannot. The current reality is real. It is happening, we are in the midst of a crisis and it is urgent. So let’s get going fellow fashion people- this is real- let’s switch our production and distribution to clean energy together, educate each other, and make this happen…. our world depends on it!

– Andrea Kennedy, November 30, 2017, New York






I was asked, “Isn’t sustainability a passing fad?”

In a meeting last week, I was asked by a very seasoned fashion professional, “Isn’t sustainability a passing fad?” I sunk down in my chair. Deflated. I can’t stop thinking about the exchange.

If one fashion mover-and-shaker thinks sustainability is just a trend, then others must too. I ask myself why? The information is out there. There has been (and are) so many workshops, presentations, seminars, speakers, and blog posts raising awareness of the need of more responsible apparel-production solutions that are less toxic to the atmosphere, land, water and biodiversity of our planet. There has been (and are) so many websites, films, factory exposés and news articles reporting on the mistreatment, underpayment and abuse of garment workers around the globe. There has been (and are) so many fashion companies implementing sustainability and CSR initiatives, and/or marketing that they’re repurposing old styles or utilizing recycled materials to avoid creating more landfill waste. Yet… there has been (and are) so many decisions-makers in fashion not thinking the movement is important…. or that it’s nothing more than a passing fad.

This is a problem. Our planet has now reached its carrying capacity and will soon be on overdrive as we have an upcoming population increase of 2 billion more people to produce for with 20% less resources. Yet to some, and many I fear, sustainability is a fad. This means that to those naysayers- sustainability is in the same category as silly bands, chokers, crocs, and beanie babies. A trend that starts quickly, gets loads of attention, then speedily declines into obsolescence –like last season’s cold-shoulder tee or this season’s top-knot bun. Many think the notion of sustainability is a fashion craze.

Actually I wish it were a craze. Then at least we’d have more celebrities and fashion professionals

Photo credit: Josh Sobel

tweeting and instagramming about it, instead of assuming it’s a notion that will soon disappear. It’s hard to comprehend why, with all the attention in the last few years focusing on the fashion industry’s negative impacts on our environment and factory workers, that still less than 20% of fashion companies are taking real steps to produce responsibly. Many say 20% is hopeful. I agree, it could be worse. However it’s been a very slow rise in companies transforming and changing their traditional apparel-making ways. And most companies are still running their businesses the same way they did for the last twenty years. Now that’s crazy! Industries worldwide have collectively caused the earth’s annually rising temperatures, rapidly melting icecaps, polluted ocean waters, and coral reef and forest devastation, so industries worldwide collectively must work to halt our impacts and work on reversing the effects of the past. Fashion must do it’s share, as sustainability is not a trend, rather a response to cleaning up the mess we’ve all made of our earth, which is our home.

If somehow you have missed all the workshops, presentations, seminars, posts, websites, films, exposés and articles…. then just google “fashion pollution” and take a look at all the images that appear…. now I ask, how can sustainability be a trend? It is instead taking ownership that companies producing clothing are part of the problem, and all companies (and stakeholders in these companies) can be part of the change and produce more responsibly. For those who really think it is a trend, here is a brief list of some industry facts from one website I brought up on the screen at last week’s meeting. These are from Responsibilityinfashion.org, a website created by Robert Bergmann, another change agent working to create responsibility in the fashion world.
The textile and clothing industry ranks second behind petrochemicals in overall global pollution output. (Source: Forbes)
Growing cotton requires more pesticides than any other crop and one-third pound of pesticides are used for every cotton t-shirt produced. (Source: Forbes and NRDC)
Five of the nine pesticides used on conventionally-grown cotton are carcinogens: Cyanide, Dicofol, Naled, Propargite, and Trifluralin. (Source: EPA)
Hundreds of toxic chemicals are used in manufacturing textiles; significant amounts of these poisons remain on clothing after multiple washings. (Source: Stockholm University)
The Chinese textile industry alone creates 3 billion tons of soot/year and contributes to 8.2 % of CO2. (Source: NRDC and Ecotextiles)
Fashion’s supply chain employs an estimated 60 million people globally and is the leading employer of child-laborers. In India, an estimated 400,000 children are employed in cotton cultivation. (Source: World Wildlife Fund)
The United States alone produces 25 billion pounds of clothing waste each year and an average American throws away 69 pounds of used clothing/textile waste each year (Source: Council for Textile Recycling)

Now I ask you, if these are the facts, then is sustainability just a passing fad? Is being responsible and taking ownership of a problem we helped cause the current rage? Fortunately most people in the industry do not have this attitude. Their eyes are open, they’ve been reading the news posts, seeing the images, and listening to their hearts. They are attempting to be sustainable because it is the right thing to do. They are not practicing sustainability to be in vogue or be trendy. They are concerned and wish to be responsible.

The current situation of our planet is extremely problematic, but the problem increases as we have seasoned fashion professionals holding the reins and hesitant to change; they think it’s just a fad. We must convince them this isn’t a craze.

Perhaps the problem is calling these initiatives new at all? Maybe we label them: common, standard, traditional, old hat… Maybe we make these practices sound ordinary and comfortable. Let people realize that being sustainable is the standard, and didn’t they know? Where have they been, we can ask; this isn’t a trend, it’s the standard. Perhaps we need to change our language- the facts and the images might not be working. Let’s consider changing the way we communicate and reverse everyone’s thinking so we all feel that the new ways are the traditional ways. If sustainability is commonplace, then we will all be participating in it. We’ll all be doing the same old thing, creating clothing lines with thoughtfulness and concern for the planet and all people. We’ll all be designing and producing responsibly and no-one will ask if fashion sustainability is a passing fad. It’ll be the new normal, it’ll be status quo.

-Andrea Kennedy

Let’s Talk About Water

Let’s talk about water. Our bodies are 60% water. Our planet is 70% water. Our food, it varies, but food can be made up of 40 to 90% percent water. Water is a pretty special thing… extremely essential to life… and of that 70% water that makes up our planet- only 1% is drinkable, and none of it is replaceable. Of that 1% drinkable water, some of it’s now so polluted it is now non-renewable.

In the name of fashion…. we waste and pollute this very precious commodity daily. That’s a well-known fact. Growing cotton, producing fabric, manufacturing, dyeing and finishing clothing utilizes a massive amount of water. From there clothing goes home with a customer, who continues to use loads of water by repeatedly washing the clothing they purchase. It takes roughly 1,000 gallons of water alone to perform all those steps in the lifecycle of just one pair of jeans. One pair. And how many jeans are we making? Enough for the U.S. to buy over 450 million pairs of jeans each year, per a 2013 CNN report. That’s 45,000,000,000 gallons of water annually for American jean-shopping. Just consider the amount if we also added the water consumption in the production and usage of our whole wardrobes… if we added our tanks, tees, dresses, sweaters, suits, jackets, shoes, boots, accessories…

Other than heavily expending water, our industry pollutes water. We discard chemicals and waste water from our factories into the waterways close by. This is contaminating water all over China and India. Fashion water pollution is aiding in the destruction of diverse aquatic and botanical water life, as well as the local creatures are at risk from the contaminated water. In August of this year, a factory in Mumbai was found dumping dyestuff into a local waterway. They were caught because people witnessed blue fur on the neighborhood dogs. When factories dump untreated waste water into local waterways, chemicals are then transferred in to the water, which makes the entire communities’ water undrinkable. Once water is made toxic and unsafe, well…. it is wasted… and we only have that 1%. And that 1% is already in very high jeopardy… I was recently trained as a Climate Reality Leader and, other than the obvious reasons of climate change, we learned about warmer water temperatures every year, changes in ocean salinity, increase in coral bleaching, decrease in aquatic diversity, and all about our sea levels rapidly rising. This is the time for us to act and to change as an industry.  As a giant global industry, it is urgent we focus on reducing our water usage and keeping our water clean.

Many companies have started already, especially large fashion brands. One brand making great strides is M&S. M&S recently introduced men’s low-impact jeans, which utilize five times less water during the manufacturing process by using laser technology. This and other new high-tech processes can greatly reduce our industrial water consumption in the making of all clothing styles. Of course that’s easy to say if you’re a large brand. Most companies are not the size of M&S.

The question is how can small- to mid-size fashion companies make a difference? How can we (and how do we) dictate our textile mills, factories, finishers and employees to save water? Well, we can ask our textile suppliers for natural fibers requiring less water in their irrigation, we can source waterless dyeing methods, we can choose to produce in factories that recycle their waste water and are committed to sustainable water management. We can commit to reducing water use for our brands, by first committing to the practice ourselves. I believe the first step any brand must take is to get the staff on board- we must start with ourselves. If we become conscious about our own water footprint, if we are able to walk the walk in our homes and offices, then we can truly talk the talk to our supply chain suppliers as well. Other than Climate Reality… I also recently attended an eye-opening presentation at Grace Communications in Manhattan. I learned that the water waste in the food industry is as bad as the situation in fashion. For instance, it takes 42 gallons of water to make one slice of pizza and 56 gallons for a plain

cheese sandwich. I was shocked to have found out that 25% of fresh water used each year to make our food is wasted because we throw away 25% of our food.  Grace created an assessment that allows you to measure your own water footprint. It’s a water calculator and very thought-provoking. Go try it out at: www.watercalculator.org. It will determine how many gallons of water you use

each day. I learned the water usage in my home is below average. Yahoo! What was interesting is we waste most of our household water at the kitchen sink! Who knew? Well I know now and can make a few lifestyle changes accordingly. There are tips on greywater systems, collecting water and fixing leaks to explore that can help improve and reduce your water usage at home- but in your design offices and showrooms too!

When I became really aware
of the global fashion water situation several few years ago, I started researching water-responsible suppliers. Those are the suppliers we suggest to our clients now. I cannot in good conscience refer brands to textile and trim suppliers who are still using water the way they have always used water, because then they are still wasting water the way they always wasted water.  Water scarcity is an immediate threat to our planet, it is as urgent as the rising annual global temperatures and our climate crisis. We must act.  We are the fashion industry- we are an industry that sets trends. Let’s not sit back and just let other industries make all the impacts. Let’s set trends in creating fashion with clean water (and waterless) practices. Let’s start by looking at our own water usage, then try and reduce our water consumption at home and in our work. We must produce our lines responsibly and ask our factories to practice sustainable irrigation systems, waste-water recycling, start capturing rainwater, and use waterless initiatives to replace those traditionally very water-intensive processes.

The world’s water cannot be replaced and our fashion businesses use a lot of it. So let’s start using a little less of it. Together we can reduce the water footprint of our lives and of the clothing we design and manufacture. We can dive in and produce more responsibly.

Together we can make a splash!

-Andrea Kennedy, New York

On Creating Right-Brained Fashion

Thank you FASHION STUDIES JOURNAL for publishing Andrea from Fashiondex’ article on running a fashion business with the right side of your brain! http://www.fashionstudiesjournal.org/commentary/2017/6/6/on-creating-right-brained-fashion

And a big thanks and shout out to Dr. Sherie McClam from Manhattanville College’s Education for Sustainability program…. thank you for making us think so critically!

On Creating Right-Brained Fashion

Many fashion brands and retailers are losing money these days. Department stores are closing and many clothing lines—from fast fashion, to bridge, to high-end designs—have experienced a year of losses. These brands were offered hope about a month ago at a costing seminar that was convened in Manhattan. I attended this future-thinking-type of seminar where costing factors were explained as a solution for the current fashion-retail woes. The message was: if you’re not sharply costing, you’re leaving money on the table. Of course, I don’t disagree with that—not at all; however, the seminar encouraged apparel executives from dozens of major brands and fashion retailers to look more critically at the standard allowed minutes (also known as SAMs or SVMs, short for standard value minutes) on their cost sheets. I have heard these terms countless times in my career, but lately, and perhaps disconcertingly, these quantitative terms have become principle drivers of style change itself.

Less stitching detail means less SAMs. Less SAMs equals less cost. 3.5 SAMs for a shirt translates to three and one-half minutes to complete the sewing of one shirt. Each serged side seam, attached neck band, and double-needle hem stitched is 0.5 SAMs (or 30 seconds each). A factory measures and calculates SAMs to determine their production capacity per day, per week, and per month. And brands analyze SAMs to cost and price their styles.

Sitting in this seminar, my mind wondered away from SAMs to cost sheets in general, then to income statements, then to top line, bottom line, mark-up formulas, assortment plans, time and action charts, analytics, tech packs, PLM, efficiency, and lead times. Over and over in my mind I saw today’s fashion practices, terminology, charts, graphs, sheets, and line plans. Wow, I thought to myself, “What kind of fashion people have we become?” We are an industry concentrating on SAMs, line efficiency, duty rates, data, and procedures. Yet, we are the fashionindustry. Shouldn’t we be focusing on creativity, mood, inspiration and flair? Shouldn’t we be pondering over beautiful details and gorgeous shapes as opposed to how can we simplify a style just to sew it in as little time as possible? I think to the practice of haute couture, where it takes hours, days…even weeks of hand-stitching to complete one dress… those rarified places in Paris, Italy, and London where art is created. Of course, mass market is stitch of a different thread, so to speak, but I wondered, could the mass-market manufacturers in this seminar learn something by looking more closely at couture design and its celebration of fashion, instead of more precisely calculating SAMs?

And eventually it came to me—the realization that truly nothing of value and longevity can be produced in 3.5 minutes. Nothing of beauty and resiliency can be produced by concentrating on data.  I realized the reason many retailers, malls, and manufacturers are floundering is not because they aren’t producing and shipping clothing styles fast enough, but because as an industry, we are running our businesses with numbers—with the left sides of our brains. We are the fashion industry. Shouldn’t we be running our companies with the right sides of our brains?

If you Google “Right Side Left Side Brain” a slew of results will come up. In a 2016 article on verywell.com, Kendra Sherry writes, “a person who is “right-brained” is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective. Thus, if a “right-brained” individual is more intuitive and inherently more creative, doesn’t it follow that a “right-brained” company would be more intuitive, thoughtful, and perceptive, too? And wouldn’t a “right-brained” company, in being more subjective, be more in tune with their audience’s wants, need and moods? And therefore more successful?

Charts that compare the functions of the left and right sides of the brain further explain each side’s dominance. While the left side of the brain is preoccupied with reasoning, data-aggregation and analysis, planning, analytics and linear thinking, the right side of the brain, by contrast, is better equipped to process art, imagination, feelings, intuition, perception, creativity, and holistic thoughts.

In the quest to become more competitive and obtain more supply-chain control, we’ve left fashion design in the hands of left-minded thinkers.

Taking all of this into account, I wonder, are we doing ourselves and our customers a disservice by running our companies so strategically? Indeed, with all of our talk about improving current business models, sharpening costs, and focusing on sewing minutes, we’ve allowed the left side of our companies too much control. In the quest to become more competitive and obtain more supply-chain control, we’ve left fashion design in the hands of left-minded thinkers. Today, numbers, costs, and data are driving garment design, rather than creativity and imagination. Didn’t we enter the fashion industry to be creative? We should be spreading dreams and creating beautiful garments, not number-crunching. Perhaps this is why so many fashion businesses have been experiencing bottom-line losses these last few years.

Maybe this numerical, analytical, planned, and digitized thinking is why many fashion companies are failing. I also believe that exact type of thinking is why our businesses have had such a large negative impact environmentally and socially. If we were thinking holistically—with intuitiveness, feeling, and imagery—would we still have created a global fashion industry built on economies of scale and speed? Would the right sides of our brains allow us to pollute soil and water, exploit workers, and create products that more-often-than-not sell only when discounted?

The answer for me is a resounding no. The right sides of our brains have empathy. And the right sides of our brain consider values—not in terms of the bottom line, costing and price, but of human worth, community value and concern for all.

If we shift our businesses and allow the right sides of our brains to stand up and take charge, we might see that there are methods to produce clothing less focused on calculation, measuring SAMs, and data analysis and more centered on creativity, visualization, and integrated with compassion, not facts.

Sustainably-run companies recognize the interconnectedness of their business practices and processes with the people and the planet. They are systems thinkers, world viewers and right-brained. It takes visualization, emotion, and non-linear thinking to change a company’s ways and develop a business model with Earth, people, creativity, and art at its core. It might not look right on paper as we can’t measure human worth like we can a cost sheet, but as an industry we must consider our customers’ feelings. They care about our planet and are concerned with the future. They have no interest in our SAMs. Perhaps we should forego planning how fast a factory can produce for us—for that’s a left-brained way of thinking—and instead visualize how we can creatively design and bring a fashionable product to market. Using the right sides of our brains and reinventing the art of fashion is the right thing to do… for the planet, for our companies, for our customers, and, in the end, for our bottom lines.

Just Love the C&A Foundation!


by Circular Fibres on May 11, 2017

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation launches today a new initiative that brings together key industry stakeholders to build a circular economy for textiles, starting with clothing. The initiative is supported by a core philanthropic funder, C&A Foundation, core corporate partners H&M and NIKE, and a consortium of organisations including the Danish Fashion Institute, Fashion for Good, Cradle to Cradle and MISTRA Future Fashion. The announcement was made by Dame Ellen MacArthur at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

Participants in the Circular Fibres Initiative will work together to define a vision for a new global fibres system, which will address the significant drawbacks of the ‘take-make-dispose’ model currently dominating the industry. The new system for textiles will be based on the principles of a circular economy, generating growth that benefits citizens and businesses, while phasing out negative impacts such as waste and pollution – an economy fit for the 21st Century.

Textiles is the second global materials flow that the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has focussed on. In 2016, the Foundation launched the New Plastics Economy initiative, bringing together key stakeholders including leading businesses across the value chain, city authorities, intergovernmental organisations, scientists, designers and other innovators, to build a plastics system that works. The success of this first initiative, which includes two major reports presented at the Word Economic Forum in Davos, stakeholder workshops and significant media attention, has highlighted the importance of a pre-competitive, collaborative mindset amongst participants.

“At c, we support the production, uptake, and reuse of sustainable fibres. The Circular Fibres Initiative is important because it will establish the shared agenda and deep collaboration needed to shift the apparel industry to regenerative and sustaining business models.”

Executive Director, C&A Foundation Leslie Johnston

Fibres are an important part of today’s global economy: clothing production has doubled in the last 15 years, with sales of footwear and apparel reaching $1.67 trillion in 2016[1]. Meanwhile consumers keep their clothing for half the time that they did 15 years ago[2]. After use, only around 15% of apparel waste is collected in the US, while the remaining 85% ends up in landfill[3]. This characteristically linear economy, based on extractive and consumptive patterns, puts high demand on land, energy and other resources. The production and use of clothing accounts for around 3% of global CO2 emissions[4], and cotton production is now responsible for a quarter of worldwide insecticide use[5].

As a first step, the Circular Fibres Initiative will produce, with McKinsey & Co. as Knowledge Partner, an analysis of the textiles industry, mapping how textiles flow around the global economy, and the externalities that arise from the current system. It will explore what a new, circular economy for textiles – one that is restorative and regenerative – could look like, and lay out the steps needed to build it. The Initiative’s first report is due for publication in autumn 2017.

“The way we produce, use, and reprocess clothing today is inherently wasteful, and current rising demand increases the negative impacts. The Circular Fibres Initiative aims to catalyse change across the industry by creating an ambitious, fact-based vision for a new global textiles system, underpinned by circular economy principles, that has economic, environmental, and social benefits, and can operate successfully in the long term.”

– Dame Ellen MacArthur, Founder, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

“At C&A Foundation, we support the production, uptake, and reuse of sustainable fibres. The Circular Fibres Initiative is important because it will establish the shared agenda and deep collaboration needed to shift the apparel industry to regenerative and sustaining business models.”

– Leslie Johnston, Executive Director, C&A Foundation

“Our 100% circular vision and our goal to only use recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030 plays a key role in our sustainability agenda. We are aware that our vision means a big change on how fashion is made and enjoyed today and if we want to take the lead in this challenge, collaboration and accelerating innovation and circular systems together with the industry is crucial. The Circular Fibers Initiative will define a shared vision for a new global textile system and it will be an important foundation for collaboration to accelerate the journey towards a circular textile industry.”

– Anna Gedda, Head of Sustainability, H&M Group


[1] www.qz.com/889672/sportswear-is-carrying-the-globa…

[2] www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability…

[3] www.weardonaterecycle.org

[4] Energy-related CO2 emissions, The Carbon Trust, International Carbon Flows – Clothing (2011)

[5] Yale Environment 360 (2016)

Notes to Editors

For enquiries please contact: 

Clare Mucklow, clare.mucklow@ellenmacarthurfoundation.org

About the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was created in 2010 to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. The Foundation works across five areas: insight and analysis, business and government, education and training, systemic initiatives, and communication. With its Knowledge Partners (Arup, IDEO, McKinsey & Co., and SYSTEMIQ), and supported by Core Philanthropic Funder (SUN), the Foundation works to quantify the economic opportunity of a circular model and to develop approaches for capturing its value. The Foundation collaborates with its Global Partners (Danone, Google, H&M, Intesa Sanpaolo, NIKE, Inc., Philips, Renault, Unilever), and its CE100 network (businesses, universities, emerging innovators, governments, cities and affiliate organisations), to build capacity, explore collaboration opportunities and to develop circular business initiatives. By establishing platforms such as the New Plastics Economy initiative, the Foundation works to transform key material flows, applying a global, cross-sectoral, cross value chain approach that aims to effect systems change. Learn more at www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org.

Bravo CFDA on today’s article on the impact of a possible immigration policy on fashion…

04 10 17  by: MARC KARIMZADEH 

The innovation economy, industry growth, opportunities for international designers and investors in the U.S., and American jobs – just some key issues that will determine the future of American fashion.

On Monday morning, CFDA’s Chairwoman Diane von Furstenberg and President and CEO Steven Kolb, FWD.us President Todd Schulte, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito gathered at the CFDA {Fashion Incubator} to proudly unveil a joint CFDA and FWD.us report.

The report addresses the impact of immigration policy on the United States’ fashion industry, its role in creating American jobs, and changes needed to bolster the future health of the industry. Read the full report here.

Von Furstenberg recalled leaving Europe and arriving in New York with a suitcase full of little dresses. “Young people from all over the world come to America in search of those same opportunities, and young people with limitless talent and potential will continue building and innovating in our industry as long as we put in place immigration policies that allow the U.S. to remain a magnet for them,” she said.

The press conference was attended by several designers, among them Phillip Lim, Robert Geller, Maria Cornejo, Waris Ahluwalia, Sachin Ahluwalia, Maxwell Osborne, Dao-Yi Chow, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim.

Kolb added: “In order to continue the U.S.’ success and influence in the fashion industry, we must recruit the best talent from all over the world. If the United States wants to lead the world in fashion innovation, we need immigration policies that embrace the talented foreigners who come here to build and grow.”

The report outlines two hurdles impacting the fashion industry: access and retention of top talent, and the difficulty and high cost of navigating our badly broken immigration system. Among the recommendations, the report cites reforming and expanding the H-1B and O-1 high-skilled visas, creating a startup visa so that foreign-born entrepreneurs can build companies and create American jobs here, and establishing a process for hardworking undocumented immigrants to earn legal status after successfully passing a background check.

“We need to reform our immigration laws to protect American workers while boosting our ability to bring in the best and brightest from around the world so we can continue driving the U.S.’ global leadership in fashion and multiple other industries,” said FWD.us President Todd Schulte.

“Making it more difficult for skilled foreign workers in the fashion industry to enter the United States will make it harder for the industry to survive and will do irreparable harm our city’s economy,” said U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12).

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito underscored the report’s message that barriers for immigrants hurt the U.S. economy and weakens fashion businesses. As she put it, “It is essential to keep finding new ways to empower our immigrant communities.”


Original article here:



by: Andrea Kennedy

So you are thinking you want to take steps to become more sustainable. And maybe you’ve been thinking this way for awhile. So, what’s stopping you? Most often the answer is…. Cost.
Companies fear that moving to a more responsible design and production model will cost too much. They believe the customer will not pay more and they therefore will lose money. It’s really not possible, it’s thought by many, to be sustainable and profitable. Many businesses fear the expenses are too great in time and in dollars to research, initiate, and implement sustainable practices.

Photo byFabian Blank @blankerwahnsinn

Well…. yes, it certainly costs more to do things right. It costs more to pay workers fairly, to use natural or recycled fibers, and to inspect and audit factories. And, it does cost more per unit to manufacture with greener components and on the same hemisphere. But if we look away for the moment from the fact that each component and line item may cost more, and instead look at the total lowest cost, then things start to look different.
Just operating with less waste and more efficiency, which is the true essence of sustainability, will lower a company’s operating costs immediately. Efficiency and a no-waste commitment can be every company’s first step. And that costs nothing to implement! If you choose to use less energy, water and materials in your offices and supply-chain facilities, then immediately you will see usage rates decrease and will pay less in overhead costs.
This is an initiative already place at Mara Hoffman. Dana Davis, director of sustainability, notes they continuously strive to reduce energy consumption in the Mara Hoffman offices and on bright days work with the lights off and keep the windows open far into summer to consume less electricity. Lower usage bills have help offset some of the increased costs accrued in producing their responsible collection. This is something we all can do!
In terms of raw materials, with consumer environmental concern on the increase, and the waste of the fashion industry receiving so much media focus, it’s never been a better time to introduce responsibly-produced fibers, fabrics and trims. Organic, recycled, and low-impact fabric may cost on average 30-40% more per yard, but if you find innovative ways to use all leftover fabric scraps, you can balance the additional costs. For instance, companies can print on leftover fabric scrap squares and use as hangtags, then there is no longer a need to purchase cardstock tags. And utilizing all excess fabric and trim means less waste entering our factory-area landfills.
Companies can also cut all non-value adding (and wasteful) components from their practices and their cost sheets. Non-biodegradable items such as poly bags for buttons or individually plastic sleeves for garments can be omitted. In forcing themselves to commit to sustainability, companies are forced to think in more innovative ways, and although at first uncomfortable, innovation always leads us to more operating efficiency and cost-cutting practices.
Increased costs up front for using sustainable and responsible materials and production practices can save companies money in the long run, as customers are taking notice and staying loyal to green and sustainable companies. More and more businesses are showing positive financial performance, despite the increase in costs, due to an increase in sales. This growth in sales certainly balances the increase in cost of goods sold, especially if your overhead is lower due to decreased resource utilization, less waste and tax incentives.
Yes, tax incentives are another perk of sustainable business practices. State and local tax-breaks for businesses supporting environmental and human wellbeing initiatives are increasing every year, as well there are federal tax credits offered to US businesses for being energy-efficient.
A focus on sustainability equates to a competitive advantage like no other for those willing to go that extra mile to deliver responsible products. If you concentrate on the full value cost and not individual line-item costs, you will see that you can still be profitable while being sustainable. It may take a while, but if you are still doing business in the manner you have for the last ten-to-twenty years, then it is time for a change. As 66% of customers state that when given the choice they will select and pay more for sustainably-produced products manufactured by companies committed to positive social and environmental impact (Neilsens, 2016). And when surveyed this year in January, 78% of US consumers stated they “feel better” when they buy sustainably-produced products.  If you become a brand that is part of making a difference and no longer part of the problem, you will stand out to customers who are looking for products produced by companies that mirror their own concerns at this very moment in time. This will increase your sales, show in your bottom line, and create customer relationships for the long-term.
So you are thinking you want to take steps to become more sustainable. Don’t let costs stop you. The benefits of customers knowing you care and the advantage of customers thinking you are part of the solution, should help you realize that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to practice sustainability, and that any additional monies spent to develop and produce your products are certainly worth eliminating waste and treating people and our planet with respect. These actions in turn build brand-respect, create greater perceptions of quality and value to your products… and will bring you business!Thank you Fashion Mannuscipt for publishing this article in Fashion Mannuscript, April 2017 edition

Trends for Success in Tomorrow’s Fashion Market

Written/Researched by: Andrea Kennedy. Edited by: Katie Marcus

Politically, everything is uncertain right now. But that’s nothing new for the ever-changing fashion industry, where trends, fabrics, technologies, and marketing tactics are constantly subject to major shifts. Fashion just doesn’t stand still, and as it works to accommodate consumers, our businesses should too. Therefore, to stay on top in the fashion industry, it’s crucial to be aware of the directions we are moving and to consider how to better plan, develop, source, produce, market and distribute to future markets.

With our fingers crossed for no dollars lost let’s move forward and react quickly, thoughtfully and right ahead of the trends.

Here are seven ways the world, consumers, technology and industry are shaking things up for fashion. We must consider what our businesses need to embrace and execute in order to stay relevant and profitable in tomorrow’s market. The seven trends are:

1- Peer Groups and Purchasing.

Generational marketing is more important than ever as we consider the three key cohort groups:

First, BabyBoomers. They are preparing to retire, taking on hobbies and vacationing more. What they purchase for the last third of their lives will not be on impulse and must be of value. They have money to spend, but do not require more belongings. They are streamlining what they own, downsizing their homes. We must work hard to capture what they buy and concentrate on value!

Second, Millennials, with their signature innovate and entrepreneurial spirit. They are grown up and becoming homeowners, who will soon begin saving for future families, which means less room for risk. We must stay innovative to keep them as loyal clientele.

Thirdly, Generation Z (also known as i-Gen). Having now entered college, this group continues to Instagram, Snapchat, and Lyft first, while shopping last. They are about showing the world where they’re at, not just what they have. They see their millennial siblings in debt, and prefer to keep their dollars close. We must offer them excitement and value to keep their interest.

These generational cohorts will buy, but it’s on us to design, develop and manufacture products that appeal to them. We will need to implement lean manufacturing techniques for smaller, higher-quality batches. Our customers will no longer shop for the short-term, they will insist on value and longevity, or they will not purchase.


2- Population and the Planet.

   It’s no secret that the world population is exploding, and is set to reach the 10 billion mark by 2050. Some estimates say that by 2040, one-third of our inhabitants will be extinct and many natural resources may be too. As our resources deplete, we must be conservative in our use of water, trees, oil, coal, and natural gas. We must be innovative in our development and creation of products, and plan and build new production facilities, so that they can be self-sufficient, closed loop and carbon neutral. Change starts with each of us, and the first step is to remove the old ways of “take-make-waste” from our thinking and practices.

Simply put, we have to produce more using less resources. As consumers become more aware of this global crisis, more will seek out and pay more for products created with responsible supply chains. Expect more requests for no-impact products, like recycled post-industrial or post-consumer fibers, or products made in wind, solar, tidal or man-powered factories, produced by companies doing business responsibly from end-to-end. The sooner you begin offering these ideas, the better off your business will be as sustainability becomes a major consumer focus.


3- Biometrics and Bluetooth.

   Now is the time for companies to invest in technology. Fashion is no longer separate from science, so let’s develop products with technical competitive advantages.

Biometric apparel can take us there: garments can serve important functions, like measuring heart rate, pulse, temperature, oxygen, hydration levels and more. Textiles and wearables can have reactive properties within flexible fibers that heat and cool us, keep us alert, and give us directions through GPS and Web-enabled components. When polled last month, 50% of males said they would purchase apparel that monitors heart rate and charges their mobile devices. This is up 25% from the previous year. Therefore, as health centers become overcrowded with aging baby-boomers, customers will seek garments that allows them to monitor themselves. Companies entering this market early will have a competitive advantage like no other.


4- 3-Dimension Ascension.

3-D printing allows for speed-to-market and takes us to the next level in consumer responsiveness. Product development turnaround has never been faster than with 3-D prototyping, sure to revolutionize our productivity.

Not just factories, schools, and design studios will have 3D printers. Within 4-5 years, having a 3-D printer in the house will be as common as having an inkjet printer today. We will print our own 3-D jewelry, clothing, and shoes. We will be 3-D bodyscanned for sizing in stores and designers will dive heavily into 3-D prototyping and fittings. Online Etailers will give 3-D fashion shows and you’ll be able to see how you look in a garment by trying it on in a virtual 3-D fitting room with a look-alike avatar. 3-D technology creates less waste, and for that reason alone, now is the time for companies to embrace this digital, 3-D movement.

5- Robotic Revolution.

As 3-D uptrends, so does robotics. Automation and robotic production has entered warehouses and the textile sides of the supply chain; and it’s also slowly entering our garment factories. This colossal shift in manufacturing is driven by advancements in automation technology, but also because worldwide raw materials laborers and factory workers are demanding fair and increased wages. Although manufacturers will have a large financial output in fully-automating their processes, the investment will lead to time and money saved, as no longer will companies need to pay to train unskilled workers. In a country like US, where factory jobs are undesirable to young college-bound persons, automated facilities can keep production domestic, and save the time and costs of outsourcing. Another perk: robotic workers will keep ticking around the clock and turnaround orders in hours, as opposed to days or weeks.

Robots and automatons will become more involved in textile and garment printing, cutting, dyeing, and embellishment. Sewing will soon become automated and remotely-programmable production lines will become the norm. At a time when capabiliti\es of mass customization and small batch orders are an advantage, robotic sewing and autoated production lines will be a deal breaker.


6- Speed-to-“Self-Serve”-Market.

Our fast-paced customers are accustomed to speed-to-market goods, and they want quicker response times. Allowing customers to serve themselves, may be the ultimate in delivering customer satisfaction. Although it requires a complete turn-around in operations, the few stores, such as Hointer, who deliver speed-to-market without retail staff are succeeding as customers flock and return. Peopl-eless stores make sense in today’s environment of cost-cutting and bottom-line focus. I-Genners and Millennials are instagramming about self-serve retail experiences and relish not being followed by a salesperson, or dealing with unfriendly retail staff. Although it is the exact opposite of the also-trending “Farmer’s Market” model, there is room for both. And with innovation, excitement and timesaving desired, those who convert to at least partial self-serve will find many early customers who will loyally return.


7- The Art and Craft of Fashion.

We have been engaged in a cycle of garment styles based off pattern blocks and an over-stocked assortment of basics at retail. Stores suffer because customers have more than enough button-fronts, tees and pullovers to dress themselves for their lifetimes. S/M/L/XL sizing is everywhere and nothing fits perfectly. This has created a cycle of markdowns and chargebacks that is unsustainable. Designers and manufacturers need to consider returning to the days of multiple fittings and again give attention to beautiful fit, detail, and diverse styling details to bring back the craft of fashion as art. A return to fashion as art will be welcomed by consumers who are showing they no longer wish to purchase an array of adaptations of the same styles.

It is time for freshness, innovation and an appreciation of the human craftsperson. Although the more detailed hand-worked processes will cost more, the customers will receive and perceive uniqueness, quality, art, and longevity… all of which our industry should have never lost.


It’s time to take the reins and shape the future of the fashion industry. Adapt too late and you may find yourself out of business. We must become change ambassadors and inspire ourselves and those around us for success in tomorrow’s ever-changing fashion world!


Thank you Fashion Mannuscript, for publishing this article in your March 2017 edition!

Trends for Tomorrow’s Fashion Industry- Part 3

We are up to trend 3!

Trend 3- Biometrics and Bluetooth.

As our world becomes more populated, our world, too, grows more high-tech. Now is the time for companies to invest in technology and join forces with science to develop products with a technical competitive advantage.

Just as the medical field introduces more self-monitoring services, we need our product managers and designers to
put their focus on more biometric apparel. Garments can and will more-so measure heart rate, pulse, temperature, oxygen and hydration levels and more. Textiles and wearables will have reactive properties that are enabled with flexible fibers that are knitted or woven into the fabric to heat us, cool us, keep us alert, and even give us directions through their GPS and Web-enabled components. When polled last month almost 50% of males stated they would purchase apparel that monitors heart rate and hydration and charges their mobile devices. This is up 25% from the previous year. Therefore, as more customers seek these garments for fitness, work, and leisure,
the companies who enter this market early will have a competitive advantage like no other.

Chart: Thanks to www.lifestylemonitor.cottoninc