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Everything you need to know from the Copenhagen Fashion Summit

The fashion industry’s largest and most influential event dedicated to sustainability took place in Copenhagen last week, with it bringing a flurry of new technology tools, company pledges and product announcements.

Heavy hitters including François-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering, and Emanuel Chirico, CEO of PVH, took to the Copenhagen Fashion Summit stage to share their stance on development needed in the industry. The former has recently been hired by France President Emmanuel Macron to create a “coalition” of CEOs in fashion to unite and agree on ambitious sustainability objectives together. Chirico meanwhile talked to the investment needed for long-term gains.

Top of the list of news from the week otherwise was our announcement with Google to collaborate with Stella McCartney to build-out a data analytics and machine learning tool that will enable fashion brands to make more responsible sourcing decisions.

Here’s everything else you need to know…

TOP STORIES
  • Google and Current Global collaborate with Stella McCartney to launch sustainable fashion pilot [The Current Daily]
  • Macron hires Kering CEO to improve sustainability of luxury fashion [Euronews]  
  • Sustainability to become ‘requirement of doing business’ says PVH chief [BoF]
  • In search of a business case for sustainability [BoF]
  • Sustainability is linked to privilege – teasing out the truths from Copenhagen Fashion Summit [Forbes]
INNOVATION
  • Parley for the Oceans to announce Parley ID labels to identify garment composition [WWD]
  • Alyx introduces blockchain tag detailing the origin and authenticity of garments [Current Daily]
  • Can these innovators turn the tide of fashion’s pollution mess? [Forbes]  
PLEDGES
  • Kering introduces animal welfare standards [Eco Textile News]
  • LVMH announces signature of a five-year partnership with UNESCO to support Man and Biosphere (MAB) biodiversity program [LVMH]
  • Asics sustainability report displays progress [Eco Textile News]
  • Pandora joins industry discussion on circular fashion at Copenhagen Fashion Summit [Pandora]
CIRCULARITY
  • Fixing one of fashion’s biggest issues: Leading organizations partner to launch new manifesto on circularity [PR News]
  • Nike creates circular design guide [Current Daily]
  • France says it will ban the burning of unsold luxury items [Teen Vogue]
  • P&G’s Lenor launches call to action at Copenhagen Fashion Summit to address throw away fashion trend [Retail Times]
  • Euratex to design for circular economy in textiles [Fibre2Fashion]
PRODUCT
  • Nike and A-COLD-WALL: Can Good Design Be Sustainable? [Highsnobiety]
  • H&M launches upcycling sustainability program for Weekday [Retail Gazette]
  • Clothing hanger brand Arch & Hook makes the functional sexy and sustainable [WWD]
  • A future world – Watch a trance-like film about the making of Nike’s futuristic leather [Dazed Digital]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more. 

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Editor's pick product sustainability

Adidas on spreading its sustainable message through creativity and collaboration

Adidas is using creativity and collaboration to create awareness on sustainability and “find a way out of this mess”, says Matthias Amm, product category director for global running at the brand.

Speaking at the Drapers Sustainable Fashion conference in London last week, the exec outlined the many ways in which the brand is educating both consumers and its own ambassadors on its mission towards a more sustainable supply chain, largely influenced by its partnership with Parley for the Oceans.

Since it began working with the NY-based non-profit, adidas has adopted its AIR concept – to avoid, intercept and redesign. It is avoiding the use of plastics not only throughout their supply chain, but even by banning plastic bottles in its offices and factories; it is intercepting plastic waste going into the ocean by using it as the raw material for its shoes and clothing; lastly, its biggest focus is on how to redesign future products where the use of plastic doesn’t even come into consideration in the design process. 

Educating consumers on its long-term mission is key to its success, he says. Since announcing its first product with Parley in 2015, a shoe made out of recycled plastics recovered from the oceans, it has embarked on a series of initiatives that aim to bring further awareness to plastic waste. 

With adidas’s support and funding, Parley is running an educational series under the Parley Ocean School program that aims to get young people more informed on the marine environment and how to deal with plastics accordingly. For example children growing up in the Maldives, he says, see plastic polluting the ocean as a normal occurrence, so the end goal is to help shape these young consumers into the eco ambassadors of tomorrow. 

Real Madrid player Marcelo promoting the team’s recycled ocean plastic kit

Engaging with its own athletes and gaining their support to help spread the message is another approach. It has designed sports gear and football kits for major international team such as Real Madrid and Juventus made entirely of thread consisting of ocean plastics, while often enlisting its own athletes to participate in campaigns and Parley-focused events.

Speaking at an adidas x Parley event last year, Ian Thorpe, swimmer and Australian Olympic gold medalist, said: “Growing up in Sydney, the oceans have always been a big part of my life. It’s incredible to see that adidas are taking such significant and positive steps in helping everyone fight marine plastic pollution. Together, we can protect the future of our oceans for everyone to enjoy.”

Its most consumer-facing event under the strategy, however, is the yearly Run for the Oceans event. Happening at major cities across the globe, from São Paulo to Shanghai, it aims to get people running in order to raise awareness about ocean plastic, marine wildlife, pollution, overfishing and other issues that Parley stands behind. Last year, almost one million runners joined in, and adidas matched the first million kilometres run with $1/km in funding towards the Parley Ocean School program.

How are you thinking about your sustainability strategy? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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business Editor's pick sustainability

Purposeful innovation leads British Fashion Council award winners


“Purpose is the new luxury,” said Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, at the British Fashion Council’s annual awards last night, which celebrated creativity and innovation from across the industry. 

He picked up the Special Recognition Award for Innovation, for his work recycling plastics recovered from the ocean into new products for brands including adidas, G-Star and Stella McCartney.

He echoed a theme that resonated throughout the evening focused on pushing for a positive revolution in light of climate change. “The planet is broken, the oceans are nearly dead and we need a dream of a magic blue universe that is well protected – something that we actually fight for together,” he said.

Also focused on this message was Dame Vivienne Westwood, who picked up the Swarovski Award for Positive Change. She used the occasion to give an impassioned speech about capitalism and the industry’s enormous responsibility to protect the planet.

Activism continued as a theme throughout the evening, with references made to Brexit, the Paris riots and even the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data scandal revealed earlier this year.

Miuccia Prada, on reception of the Outstanding Achievement Award, added: “Just a little note for fashion, I think more and more we should feel a responsibility for defending human rights and freedom.”

Dame Vivienne Westwood
Dame Vivienne Westwood

A surprise for guests meanwhile came when HRH The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, arrived on stage to present the British womenswear designer of the year award to Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy, who was of course the designer behind the dress for her wedding to Prince Harry.

Meghan took the opportunity to reference female empowerment: “As all of you in this room know, we have a deep connection to what we wear. Sometimes it’s very personal, sometimes it’s emotional. But for me, this connection is rooted in really being able to understand that it’s about supporting and empowering each other, especially as women. When we choose to wear a certain designer, we’re not just a reflection of their creativity and their vision, but we’re also an extension of their values, of something in the fabric, so to speak, that is much more meaningful. I recently read an article that said, ‘The culture of fashion has shifted from one where it was cool to be cruel to now, where it’s cool to be kind’.”

Other awards during the evening went to Craig Green as menswear designer of the year, Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga as accessories designer of the year, Marco Bizzarri for Gucci as business leader, and Virgil Abloh for Off-White, in the Urban Luxe category. Gucci won the brand of the year, while Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino picked up the overarching designer of the year award.

Emerging talent accolades went to Samuel Ross for A-COLD-WALL* and Richard Quinn, while Kaia Gerber picked up model of the year. There were also special recognition awards to Kim Jones as the 2018 trailblazer and to Mert & Marcus, who won the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator.

This year also marks the first time the awards have celebrated a young global creative community with the launch of the“NEW WAVE: Creatives”, which recognized 100 of the most innovative and inspiring young creative talent from around the world.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Editor's pick product sustainability

9 brands rethinking textiles for the circular economy

Fashion's Impact on Water
Fashion’s Impact on Water

From sustainability guru Stella McCartney to German premium label Hugo Boss, brands across the spectrum have been experimenting with textile innovations that aim to push the industry towards a greener future.

This mission comes with a sense of urgency, with several reports predicting the uncomfortable reality of resource scarcity. A statistic from The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that humans were using the equivalent of 1.7 planets’ worth of natural resources in 2017.

Such resources, and water specifically, are central to the fashion industry’s supply chain. From planting and irrigating cotton fields, to dyeing and washing fabric – a world without enough water and raw materials spells out an uncertain future.

Infographic of The Circular Economy - Ellen MacArthur
Infographic of The Circular Economy – Ellen MacArthur

“In the worst case, the fashion industry will face distinct restrictions on one or more of its key input factors, leaving it unable to grow at the projected rate and in the long run unable to continue under its current operating model,” said the Global Fashion Agenda in its The Pulse of The Fashion Industry report.

It’s for that reason, the industry is exploring the circular economy, which takes the traditional, make-use-dispose model in fashion, and rather promotes a closed-loop where items are reused, recycled and reduced.

We’ve seen numerous startups playing in this space for years, experimenting with different natural ingredients and formulas to create textiles ready for market. Today, a number of brands are jumping on board and partnering with such teams in order to replace traditional materials.

Here are nine of the strongest examples…

STELLA MCCARTNEY

Stella McCartney has been championing sustainable fashion since the formation of her namesake label, pushing the envelope of what circular textile innovation means for the industry at large.

One stand-out circular textile from the brand is Re.Verso™, a regenerated cashmere made from post-factory cashmere waste in Italy. According to the brand’s self-implemented Environmental P&L account, using this alternative material reduced its impact by 92%.

EVERLANE 

Everlane's ReNew Line
Everlane’s ReNew Line

Direct-to-consumer brand Everlane, which pioneered the concept of a transparent supply chain through its “radical transparency” approach, announced its newest sustainable material just this month – a fleece called ReNew, which is made from recycled plastic bottles.

The brand also pledged to replace all materials made of virgin plastic (including polyester and nylon) with material made of plastic water bottles and renewed materials by 2021. It expects to be recycling 100 million water bottles through its supply chain.

ADIDAS X PARLEY FOR THE OCEANS

Adidas x Parley
Adidas x Parley

Adidas’ partnership with Parley for the Oceans, a non-profit organization set to remove and recycle waste from the ocean, has been an elemental part of the brand’s sustainability strategy.

In 2015, the two companies teamed up to make a sneaker that was made entirely of yarn recycled from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gill nets. While the shoe was impressive in both design and sustainability, the partnership really started to come to fruition last year when sneakers like the Parley x Adidas Ultra Boost became more widely available to the public.  Eric Liedtke, head of global brands at the company, said each pair of shoes uses the equivalent of 11 plastic bottles, which means that Adidas has recycled some 55 million plastic bottles this year.

ALLBIRDS

Allbirds' SweetFoam flip-flops
Allbirds’ Sugar Zeffer flip-flops

In August 2018, direct-to-consumer footwear brand Allbirds announced the launch of “SweetFoam”,  a biodegradable and environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based materials traditionally used in the manufacturing process of shoe-soles. The first product the brand created with SweetFoam was a range of sustainable flip-flops called Sugar Zeffers.

The new material, which is made up of a sugarcane base, marks an important achievement in the industry, as it is the first ever carbon-neutral green alternative to the traditional EVA foam. To inspire industry-wide change, Allbirds also made this technology open-source and therefore available to everyone.

REEBOK

As part of its Cotton + Corn initiative, sportswear brand Reebok released its first-ever biodegradable sneaker range in August of this year. The product launch was part of the brand’s larger aim to reduce the brand’s environmental footprint with biodegradable products.

The shoe, which is also called the Cotton + Corn sneaker, is made with a cotton top and a bioplastic sole created from a corn-derived alternative material. It is also the first in its category to be certified by the United States Department of Agriculture to consist of 75% bio-based content.

REFORMATION

Reformation Intimates
Reformation Intimates

Los Angeles-based sustainable fashion brand, Reformation, has been making fashion using end-of-roll fabrics for years, but through its newest category, underwear, it’s taking things a step further.

The intimates collection is made using a mixture of sustainable fabrics such as recycled lace, eco mesh (a recycled type of yarn) and Lenzing TENCEL, a patented fabric derived from a wood cellulose material.

ADAY

Fashion's Impact on Water
Fashion’s Impact on Water

For its new Plant Bae collection, direct-to-consumer fashion brand, Aday, wanted to trial a new fabric composition using SeaCell, a fiber created from seaweed from the Icelandic coast.

Every four years, the seaweed is harvested and spun into fiber together with lyocell to stabilize. For the Plant Bae collection, it was also enhanced with cellulose and modal to create an additionally soft fabric composition. The innovative material has seen previous incarnations in Falke socks and Lululemon sportswear in its VitaSea collection.

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO

Salvatore Ferragamo
Salvatore Ferragamo

Salvatore Ferragamo created a capsule collection in 2017 made from an innovative new material derived from leftover orange peel. The brand partnered with Italian company, Orange Fiber, to product the silk-feel line, which included apparel such as t-shirts and delicate scarves.

This material is, for now, aplenty: a recent figure from the Italian Agricultural Department revealed that waste from the juice industry resulted in 700,000 tonnes of discarded orange peel on a yearly basis in Italy alone.

HUGO BOSS

Hugo Boss "Boss"
Hugo Boss “Boss”

German brand Hugo Boss released limited collection footwear in April 2018 using discarded pineapple leaves that imitate the texture of leather. The material, called Piñatex, has been used by smaller footwear brands such as Bourgeois Boheme, although Hugo Boss is one of the first mainstream brands to adopt it.

Piñatex is derived from the leaves of the pineapple plant, a byproduct of the pineapple harvest that has no other use for farmers. The creation of the textile therefore provides local farmers with an additional income.

How are you thinking about sustainable innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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business digital snippets e-commerce Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton, Instagram launches IGTV, H&M’s flagships

Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton
Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week, including Virgil Abloh launching for Louis Vuitton.

TOP STORIES
  • Over the rainbow: Virgil Abloh makes historic Louis Vuitton debut [BrandChannel]
  • Instagram celebrates its 1 billion user mark with launch of YouTube rival IGTV [TheDrum]
  • How H&M is rethinking its flagships [BoF]
  • 3 ways personalization can save brands from the retail graveyard [VentureBeat]
TECHNOLOGY
  • This AI program could beat you in an argument – but it doesn’t know what it’s saying [TechnologyReview]
  • Marks & Spencer partners with Microsoft on artificial intelligence initiative [WWD]
  • Performance-based marketing gets blockchain makeover [WWD]
  • You too can be a “Westworld” AI with this new Alexa game [FastCompany]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Asos to ban silk, cashmere and mohair from its website [BBC]
  • Stella McCartney unveils sustainable shop with ‘cleanest air’ in London [Independent]
  • MPs launch inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry [TheIndustry]
  • How Parley for the Oceans became fashion’s go-to environmental non-profit [Fashionista]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • 22 experiential stores NYC has to offer [RetailDive]
  • M&S should be “looking seriously” at Amazon tie-up says former digital boss [Retail Gazette]
  • IRL stores are doing it for the ’Gram [Racked]
  • How Depop is catering to Gen Z and millennials to get an edge over resale competitors [Glossy]
  • Farfetch’s Black and White program shows slow growth [Glossy]
  • Retailers, malls staving off Amazon with help from OneMarket [WWD]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • YouTube hires Derek Blasberg to head fashion partnerships [TheCut]
  • Aerie rapidly gaining market share off social media and ‘more authentic’ women [CNBC]
BUSINESS
  • Chanel publishes annual results for first time in 108 years [NY Times]
  • Amidst consolidation wave, Acne Studios could fetch €500m [BoF]
  • Kering to sell Christopher Kane back to designer [BoF]
  • Google to invest $550 million in China e-commerce giant JD.com [Reuters]
Categories
Editor's pick product sustainability technology

SXSW 2018: Adidas declares 2024 moonshot to only use recycled plastics

Adidas x Parley for the Oceans - SXSW
Adidas x Parley for the Oceans

Adidas is aiming for all of its products to be made from recycled plastics by 2024, according to Eric Liedtke, head of global brands at the company.

The initiative is a follow on to the brand’s partnership with Parley for the Oceans, which has already resulted in one million pairs of shoes sold created from recycled plastics recovered from the oceans. In 2018, it is expected to hit five million.

Each pair of shoes uses the equivalent of 11 plastic bottles, meaning Adidas is recycling some 55 million plastic bottles this year, Liedtke explained on stage at SXSW this week.

To put the trajectory ahead into context however, the company makes 450 million pairs of shoes every year right now, meaning that goal really is a moonshot. “You think five million is a lot but it’s not, it’s a drop in the bucket,” he said.

In the context of the 270 million tonnes of plastic in the ocean right now, not to mention the further eight million tonnes being added every year, he explained how important it is to get to this point. “The growth of plastic just doesn’t stop. It was a great invention, but it was made to never go away, so all that has been made is still floating around the world today. It becomes a real call to arms to fixing that.”

And the fact is that plastics are not only insidious, but everywhere. Most of the shirts Adidas produces are made from polyester, which is another name for petroleum based plastics. It’s also in the micro pellets in our shower gel, and of course in the plastic bags we receive. Adidas has already eliminated use of both of those latter two.

Liedtke says the next step is to “turn off the virgin plastic tap”. The aim is to get to the point where no new plastic is made at all, because the resource is already there – all that’s needed is for the existing plastics in the system to be used again and again. From cradle to grave to cradle, he explained. “We need to redesign the problem.”

Importantly, however, is the fact doing all of this also makes good business sense, Liedtke added. “I want to prove to the world that it is good for the bottom line. This is not philanthropy. It’s good business. This is what is critical.”

He added that the consumer is expecting and demanding it more than ever as well, especially when you look at the younger generation. “Gen Z wants to give back. They’ve grown up in a world that is highly stressed… they’re looking for trusted brands they can rely on – there’s a huge opportunity for us to step in. Authenticity is going to be core for this,” he said. “People don’t just buy what you make, they buy what you stand for.”

Adidas’ mission with Parley is to enter into full-time collecting and recycling ocean plastics to enable a fully sustainable supply chain, not just for its own brand but anyone interested. The worst problem the industry has right now is inaction, he added. “Everyone has to opt in, put their hand in the pile and play.”

Update: The original version of this story reported live from SXSW quoted Eric Liedtke stating that Adidas was aiming for all of its products to be made from recycled plastics recovered from the ocean by 2024. It is in fact to use 100% recycled polyester in every product and on every application where a solution exists by that year. This ambition is not tied specifically to ocean plastic.