Minutes: APPG For Textiles And Fashion's Meeting with Extinction Rebellion

Minutes: APPG For Textiles And Fashion's Meeting with Extinction Rebellion

Tuesday 10th September at Oriental Club Marylebone

CHAIR : DR LISA CAMERON MP

11:40: Meeting begins.

Tamara Cincik, CEO and Founder of Fashion Roundtable

Welcomes attendees, apologises for Bethany Williams’ absence. Asks for meeting to be respectful, positive, and to focus on opportunities and solutions.

Dr Lisa Cameron, Scottish National Party MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

  • Deliverts introduction and asks for all attendees to introduce themselves

  • Cozette McCreery Speaks instead of Rahemur Rahman

  • Comments on Brexit and the proroguing of Parliament 

  • The work of the APPG for Textiles and Fashion spans across many aspects of the fashion industry, and is very valuable: the Group champions sustainable young designers, inclusion, diversity and is taking evidence from BAME and marginalised groups for the Representation and Inclusion in the Fashion Industry Policy Paper. 

  • Fashion and world of fashion has many stereotypes, and the APPG wants to showcase all of abilities in the industry

  • The APPG for Sustainable Clothing and Textiles has recently launched, and will focus specifically on sustainability, conducting their own research and consultations

  • How can the people in this room support both APPGs and how can the APPGs support sustainable industry growth

  • The UK’s brands and manufacturing have an international reputation

  • Sustainability requires the industry to move forward, and policies need to foster growth, which is why the involvement of stakeholders is essential

  • The Issue of Extinction Rebellion (XR) calling to cancel fashion week requires dialogue, support and respect


Asks Sara Arnold, Extinction Rebellion, Boycott Fashion Team to outline key issues as Lisa is blown over by new designers, what they are doing and where their work will lead the industry to.

Speaker: Sara Arnold, Extinction Rebellion Boycott Fashion Team

  • Asks to take a moment of silence to think of people, plants and the earth: we are all here for a common cause

  • There is a twelve year deadline for fighting climate

  • Change needs to happen immediately, 2050 is too far

  • Increasing Carbon emissions by 10% would result in a 2 degree warming

  • Government needs to support stopping emissions, so that the temperature does not rise by 0.5 - 1.5 degrees, which could set off a Feedback Loop Mechanism that could not be stopped i.e. Arctic and Permafrost melting releasing trapped gases and the Amazon forest becoming a carbon producer instead of a carbon sink

  • Rise in 2 degrees means deaths and extinction 

  • Only 4% of wild animals remain in the planet, we are losing fertile soil which can be completely gone in 30 - 40 yrs, there has been a significant drop in the number of insects and oceans are acidifying

  • A climate crisis will result in war, such as the war in Syria 

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

Asks for the conversation to be focused on the fashion industry

Sara Arnold

  • If the industry continues under business as usual, we will not able put food on plates

  • Everyone here to make business sustainable but we have run out of time

  • The creativity in the fashion industry can be channelled to create change, but the current system does not work

  • London Fashion Week is a cultural hub, and if it carries on it sends the message that things are ok; XR’s call asks for culture to stand up and take responsibility

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

  • We are not here to continue on business as usual, and players in the fashion industry need to question how they can use their influence

  • The fashion industry has the potential to shape choices of the consumers

Tamara Cincik

  • What is XR doing to target high street and fast fashion

  • Agrees that LFW is a high-light event and not producer of fast fashion, which is the main culprit behind the pollution and emissions of the sector


Sara Arnold

  • Actions taken at/ by LFW echo through world wide network - asking to cancel LFW is symbolic

  • This is not an ask, it’s a protest

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

  • Fast fashion happens across the world

  • LFW is Iconic, and if it champions sustainable fashion it and can be seen as moving industry forward

Floor - Roxy Erickson, Director at Sunbeam Studios

  • Despite most of the people in the room conducting business in a ‘sustainable’ manner, what Sara is trying to say is that it is not enough

  • The industry has to manage extinction, or there will be no fashion industry

  • Ask Parliament to be far more revolutionary that it currently is

  • XR’s role is not to provide solutions, but to highlight the problem

Sara Arnold

  • We need to ask parliament to shut down Fashion 

Karen Binns, Fashion Director at Fashion Roundtable

  • Shutting down fashion and LFW is not the answer, the first target has to be high street and fast fashion brands

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

  • Do you think consumers are aware?


Cozette McCreery, Brand Ambassador for Iceberg

  • Cancelling LFW is not the answer

  • If Jamie Oliver is able to get Sugar tax through Parliament, the fashion industry can propose a similar measure

  • The industry need to change structure, so that consumer pays for items knowing their real cost

  • From a PR perspective, it is important to think of how to convince customers that making an outfit for £20 is unfeasible, and the costs are usually cut by poor working conditions and pay below minimum wage


Tamara Cincik

  • Fashion Roundtable are working with Baroness Lola Young to address these issues

  • The Environmental Audit Committee made 18 recommendations in their Fixing Fashion Report, and none were adopted by the government

  • Feels that the government should introduce tax incentives to encourage transparency and good practice

  • The aim of these sessions is to formulate policy asks and put them forward to Parliament


Floor

Why are Bristish Fashion Council (BFC) not here?

Tamara Cincik, clarifies the BFC were invited and are invited to all APPG meetings

Jodi Muter-Hamilton explains that XR have met with BFC 

Tamara Cincik

  • We need to create a positive and inclusive sector, but the sector still follows a 20th Century model

Bernice Pan, Founder and Creative Director at DEPLOY

  • Brands, manufacturers, consumers, press and government are all working against each other, and the system has been failing for a long time

  • BFC needs to work with the Department of Education and educational institutions to deliver a coherent fashion education

  • As consumers, we have power to affect change

  • When designers and creatives make something, they need to remember who the products are being designed for, rather than assume and invisible consumer

  • Mindset needs to change

  • Fashion business needs to change structurally through education so that professionals are aware of what they are designing: fabric that are toxic, and how they are made

  • British education is better than most


Rebecca Munro, Communications Director for the London College of Fashion

  • In the last 10 years, LFC have worked on providing a well-rounded education to students, but have seen resistance from the sector. Currently, students are required to take a module on Ethics and Sustainability

  • We are teaching the next generation of students that they need to make money responsibly

  • BFC needs to look at how and where they invest their resources


Bernice Pan

  • Notes it’s great Burberry is present, but where are creative directors and designers in the room?

  • Creative directors and designers need education on the environmental and social repercussions of fashion - pollution and human exploitation in the supply chain

Floor

  • Consumers are getting fashion information through the media, which has the purpose of incentivizing consumption. The impacts of fashion are not taught in school or university. 

  • Anecdote: an attendee met a geologist who was ignorant of the environmental impacts of fashion

  • Big brands have a lot of money, and should have a responsibility of educating consumers, but instead play a role in perpetuating the lack of information


Bel Jacobs, Extinction Rebellion Boycott Fashion Team

  • Fashion should be a cultural vehicle for change

  • XR is not calling for the end of creativity or creative expression, but the end of the fashion industry

  • The creativity of those in the fashion industry should be used to come up with climate change solutions

Karen Binns

  • There is little benefit in shutting down LFW and its brands and doing nothing to target high street brands and fast fashion, which have the biggest due to their size: agriculture, workforce, supply chain, production.


Bel Jacobs

  • Overproduction is damaging to the environment

Dr Lisa Cameron MP asks Burberry team what they think their role is


Cecilia Coonan, Corporate Relations Director at Burberry

  • Burberry takes a transparent approach to their production and supply chain, and has set transparency and sustainability targets, e.g.:

    • Transparent supply chains 2030

    • Transitioning to circular supply

    • Tracking carbon footprint of fashion shows

Dr Lisa Cameron MP notes she is unaware of Burberry initiatives and asks for them to be looked at by APPG

Tamara Cincik notes the importance of gathering opinions from the attendees to formulate concise policy asks

Bernice Pam

  • Rather than asking for changes in taxation, made it required for brands to disassemble unsold stock. This will push brands to re-evaluate production quantities and produce clothes using fibres that are easier to recycle.

  • Recycling is not the solution - we cannot recycle plastic fast enough to address the problem

Dr Lisa Cameron MP asks attendees to be pragmatic in their asks: what can we take back and things we can push

Marko Matysik, Founder and Creative Director of Marko Matysik

  • Tax toxic materials - but this would require a review of what is considered toxic, as plastic and certain dyes are toxic for the environment but are not considered to be

  • Rewards and incentives for brands that adopt ethical and sustainable practices


Dr Lisa Cameron MP asks for attendees to submit examples of best-practice

Roxy Erickson

  • Look at the end of life of products

  • Certifications for SMEs is so difficult needs to be free

  • Ban fabrics and dyes dangerous to humanity

  • Education and information to be made available on tags

Dr Lisa Cameron MP 

  • Block chain technology can used to track the products that make a garment

  • Highlights the potential usage of a system such as Traffic light system, similar to what is in use for food items

Jodi Muter Hamilton

  • States she has been working on a garment traffic system for several years and there are many challenges of constructing a traffic light system for clothing:

    • Accuracy of data, as many times the brands do not know what happens in their supply chains. The information/rating is only as good as the data

    • There are many certifications and organisations that have created their own ratings that would need to be included, a collaborative approach is essential

    • A lot of information to aggregate, technology can help. Brand can be verified operationally, but then each individual product would be certified

Dr Lisa Cameron MP asks if London can champion sustainable fashion?

Floor

  • There are many positive/ sustainable/ ethical fashion initiatives in London, but these are smaller and fragmented

  • Initiatives and events do not have the same visibility as the Copenhagen Fashion Summit


Sara Arnold

  • Wants the BFC to engage in conversation, so that LFW can be used as a platform to champion solutions 

  • Actions happening over fashion week please join us

  • Focus on XR’s 3rd ask, that government use citizen’s assemblies

Dr Lisa Cameron MP: introduces speakers

Cozette McCreery will be talking about:

  • Designers in LFW working with artisan skills

  • Government supporting UK manufacturing, as government support is vital but severely lacking

  • Support and recognition to give them voice 

  • Fashion not taken seriously, it is seen as a hippy idea so policy makers and institutions think it is coming from bad standpoint

  • Discussions about manufacturing center around cars, fashion and textiles is mostly overlooked

Cozette McCreery

  • We need to look at our image

  • Creative directors - know their responsibility and it is difficult using celebrity to promote positive change

  • There is a change from people within the industry but this is different to having a voice

  • There is discrepancy Marketing and support noting in the best interest of BFC

  • BFC - not working and they need to get into conversations

Dr Lisa Cameron MP, industry, consumers and policy makers should be more aware of sustainable fashion initiatives, such as those outlined by Burberry. Another example are trainers made using ocean plastic.

Speaker: Patrick McDowell, Founder and Creative Director of Patrick McDowell

  • Works with waste fabric from Burberry, but this has come from financial rather than sustainable considerations

  • Important to have more designers in the room, as designers have a responsibility, it is easy to become lazy

  • Education is very important

  • Creative Directors play a huge role, they are very rarely denied what they want for shows

  • Designers should adopt the mentality of using what already exists: lots of waste fabrics

  • The fashion system that currently operates was started by Worth in late 19th Century and has not changed since

  • Life without plastic and with less production is possible; mentions this was his GRandmother’s reality and she is still alive

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

  • Packaging has to be addressed

  • Sustainable Education as part of the curriculum

Floor notes the power of marketing, and that things need to appear cool and attractive to the individual

Cozette McCreery

  • Suggests using Edward Enninful at Vogue to promote sustainability

Claire Lissaman, Director: Product and Impact at Common Objective

  • Need to devise a strategy to clean up the industry

  • Media and industry has to share stories about what is happening - positives and negatives

  • 2020 has sense of emergency 

  • Burberry has looked at science and revenue, but all of their initiatives are all voluntary

  • Current pace is not fast enough, we need to take it up 20 notches


Floor - Not seeing designers and journalist successfully communicating environmental implications of fashion to the consumers, magazine titles not interested in what we are saying

Tamara Cincik reads Bethany William’s statement:

'I believe that London is a place of growth and change. I'm part of a design community which really is trying to find sustainable solutions and this community needs to be protected and supported. We need positive critique and positive solutions so we can all move forward together'.

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

  • Policy can use nudge theory, tactics that make it more convenient for the consumer to make the ‘right’ choices. E.g. Football violence fell by changing games from Saturdays to Sundays

Sara Arnold

  •  We are facing a climate emergency: if global temperature rises by 2 - 3 degrees we will not be able to put food on our plates, and yet we are talking about clothes

  • We do not want fashion to end, but the fashion industry is over and we need to understand how to transition from that

Dr Lisa Cameron MP final remarks and thanks attendees

13:07: Meeting ends.

Statement by Rahemur Rahman, Creative Director of Rahemur Rahman, who was originally attending at a speaking capacity but was unable to make the meeting:

“Fashion is a huge industry, and one that supports many people who aren’t as privileged as ourselves. Talking about sustainability is a privilege we can’t take lightly; the majority of the people I work with and grew up with were sustainable because of the lack of economic freedom. Sweeping comments taking out London Fashion Week show the lack of research done by the people supporting it. Around the table sit designers, who like myself, are creating new systems of fashion that aren’t anything like fast fashion. Our beliefs and ethics overlap. I hope you can see that cancelling London Fashion Week also cancels how my business works, which upholds sustainable practices and supports the lives of weavers and artisans in Bangladesh who otherwise would be working in fast fashion. London Fashion Week supports a lot of people and businesses and unless we find a sustainable way to create new jobs for all these people to go to, we have to work more sustainably in its current system, which I think a lot of new and established designers are achieving. I agree that the industry needs to change, but it won’t be like this. It has to be through policy making and fashion being in political spaces where decisions are had. We are stronger together, because our aims are the same, so why create more divides when we are constantly surrounded by them.”

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