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Copenhagen Fashion Summit

We collaborated with the Danish photographer Ebsen Kjaer for an insider's perspective on the CFS

We weren’t able to attend the Copenhagen Fashion Summit this year, however we feel that this single event is so important to sustainable fashion, and indeed the future of fashion, that we enlisted the help of Esben Weile Kjær to fill us in on the events of the day. Here is his first hand account of the summit, alongside his thoughts on the future of this for fashion as a whole.



The sun was slowly rising above Copenhagen, when I placed my bike next to a lamppost and together with lots of other participants got onto a small boat that would take us to the Royal Danish Opera House where the world’s largest conference for sustainable fashion was to take place. The one-day biennial summit, organised by the Danish Fashion Institute, assembled more than 1100 people from 34 countries, and kicked off in the early morning with the welcome speech by the official patron, Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, who called the summit “the most important event on sustainable fashion”. The day contained an eight-hour dense program with a total of 23 speakers and panellists. Among these were Livia Firth from Eco-Age Ltd., Alan Roberts from the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, Vanessa Friedman; the fashion editor of the Financial Times and Helena Helmersson, Head of Sustainability at H&M. I have been excited about this day for a long time, especially to find out how the various speakers would unite the many contradictory elements and conceptions of sustainability and fashion.


Copenhagen Fashion Summit by Helena Lundquist_6



Today also marked the one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse and the Copenhagen Fashion Summit commemorated the more than 1,100 victims with one minute of silence and a speech by the Bangladesh Accord’s executive director of international operations, Alan Roberts. After this followed the presentation by Denmark’s Minister of Interior Economic Affairs, Margerethe Vestager who also commenced by commemorating the Rana Plaza disaster and went on to underline the importance of change and political decisions now, decisions that must take consideration for the environment but also ensure the security of the textile workers.


Vanessa Friedman, the fashion editor of The Financial Times, was one of the sharpest speakers of the day. She pointed out that the physical initiatives of the various companies and of individuals are one thing, but the goal is a change of paradigm where sustainability and fashion walk hand in hand and cannot be separated, and to get there we must first of all agree on the problems and what they consist of, not just dealing with each problem separately but as an industry. Among the outcomes was the launch of Clevercare.info, a care label aiming to educate consumers to care for their clothing purchases in a more sustainable way. Another solution presented was the project Restart Fashion: Five Easy Steps to Sustainability; an online platform helping designers make more sustainable choices in the design and production process.


Connie Nielsen 03 - Copenhagen Fashion Summit



Copenhagen Fashion Summit was overall an enormously well produced and exciting conference. However I would have liked to see more discussions and I missed that some of the biggest players in this trade that are not sustainable, should have participated actively and represented themselves. I would have liked more discussions about the challenges that NGO’s, companies and producers face when trying to produce sustainably. But as Rome was not built in a day, I am sure that we will see changes in the fashion trade already by the next summit. I briefly spoke with one of the representatives from the Danish Fashion Institute who said: “We have worked for a long time to make our fashion week in Denmark important on the global scene, but after Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2014 it has become clear to me that this summit may be the most important one of all and that we should focus all our energy on it, both for the benefit of the Danish and the international fashion trade.”


Livia Firth - Copenhagen Fashion Summit


All images by Esben himself.