5 Cities To Learn About Sustainability + Fashion Design


Global Initiative

Major players, not only in the fashion industry, but also in retail, healthcare, automotive, food & beverage, and government are gathering at summits and conferences around the world to address, encourage, and  develop sustainable strategies. As an established or upcoming brand, designer, or manufacturer, it’s important to know who and where the top players are meeting.

Below you’ll find a list of 5 cities housing sustainability conferences that relate to the apparel industry. From Copenhagen to Washington D.C., sustainability is being taken seriously as a global necessity. While many of these gatherings already occurred, the presentations, discussions, and overall initiatives are still very much relevant, and now you’ll know which conferences to attend next year.


1. Copenhagen

The Copenhagen Fashion Summit is one of the largest sustainability conferences in the world. The summit delves into the fashion industry’s ethical and environmental implications, using each summit as a means for brainstorming sustainable solutions on a global scale. This year’s event, which hosted an impressive list of keynote speakers from big name fashion brands, also featured a panel discussion and a sustainable runway show that showcased 12 Nordic fashion brands including Swedish Fillippa K and Danish Designers Remix. To watch some of the speeches and discussions from the event, click here.


2. San Diego

San Diego’s Sustainable Brands Conference featured workshops, speaker series, and interactive sessions. Bringing together some of the world’s biggest brands, manufacturers, companies, and organizations, attendees and speakers included representatives from Target, CVS, Nordstrom, Starbucks, Disney, Fair Trade USA, Nestle, H&M, Puma, BMW Group, UPS, Walmart, Hilton Worldwide, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola. The goal of the event – tackle sustainability through 7 distinct areas, which included leadership & strategy, brand positioning & communications, organizational development & intrapreneurship, supply chain & procurement, chemistry & materials, product & service innovation, and stakeholder insights & influencers.


3. Toronto

This year’s Accelerate: Collaborating for Sustainability Conference featured panel discussions on sustainability from a variety of angles. Not only did the event focus on Canada’s specific role in sustainability and global innovation as a whole, but on how companies overall can begin developing sustainable solutions. One panel in particular focused on what the sustainability movement can learn from athletic champions. Additionally, the event housed the launch of the Future-Fit Business Benchmark, a sustainable benchmarking tool for businesses.


4. London

Each year London hosts the SOURCE Summit, an event dedicated to three aspects of sustainable sourcing – people, planet, and profit. Next month, the SOURCE Summit will center on the topic of 3D Profit: Strategies for achieving environmental, social, and commercial success. The summit will highlight the newest sustainable technologies, and provide attendees with training workshops and facilitated networking opportunities.

London is also home to the Future Fabrics Expo, created by The Sustainable Angle four years ago. For the past two years, the expo has been held within Fashion SVP, a manufacturing sourcing seminar that focuses on near-shore manufacturing. The Future Fabrics Expo showcases today’s most popular and sustainable fabrics for designers. For those that can’t attend the Future Fabrics Expo, the Sustainable Angle also offers an online year-round Future Fabrics Virtual Expo.


5. Washington D.C.

Washington D.C.’s LEED, Materials and Health Series, “Improving Materials Selection through Chemical Hazard Assessment” featured a discussion led by Dr. Lauren Heine, Co-Director of Clean Product Action. Heine discussed the GreenScreen®  method, a comparative chemical hazard method for manufacturers and designers. In particular, Dr. Heine discussed the methods involvement in EPA’s Design for the Environment program. Beyond explaining the GreenScreen®  method, the series centered on the present challenges of conducting chemical hazard assessments, as well as how to apply these assessments to make smarter and safer chemical choices. For any brand, manufacturer, or designer that uses chemicals to make any of its products, this is an event not to miss next year. To be notified for future LEED, Materials and Health series, sign up here.


Implementing Sustainable Practices Requires Education

As you may have learned from our Field Guide to Sustainable Apparel Manufacturing and read in 5 Fashion Brands Tackling Sustainability, building sustainable practices isn’t a simple feat. Education – in terms of understanding sustainable technologies, methodologies, organizations, and best practices  – is one of the first and most important steps before implementation. Taking the time to attend some of the above or similar conferences is one of the best ways to educate and determine how to set your own business up for sustainable success.

Written by Rebecca Weitman

Image: Danish Fashion Institute/Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2014

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