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Shaping Lankan fashion’s circular future with design, tech and innovation


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  • Sustainable Fashion Summit 2018 to lead South Asian thought leadership on the most critical environmental, social and ethical issues facing the fashion industry and the planet, from Colombo
  • To be held on 25 October as part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Sri Lanka

Since its first edition held close to a decade ago, in 2009, Sri Lanka’s Sustainable Fashion Summit has established itself as one of South Asia’s leading events on sustainability in the wearables business. 

By convening Sri Lanka’s apparel industry decision makers and major influencers in the global fashion business, the Sustainable Fashion Summit has contributed a unique and progressive discourse on the evolving interplay between fashion, people and the planet out of the region. 

Presented as a biennial event, this forum consolidates year-round thinking, innovations and missions of Lankan apparel, and similar global parallels to influence the global fashion system to change the way we produce, market and consume wearables. 

Returning to the global sustainability calendar in 2018, the Sustainable Fashion Summit brings together cutting edge thinking by global changemakers, and the world’s first ethical apparel sourcing destination—Sri Lanka Apparel. 

In this upcoming edition, thought leadership has evolved from the ethical platform to promoting sustainable business practices and on to extending the dialogue towards designing fashion’s circular future. 

The 2018 edition of Sustainable Fashion Summit is held as part of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Sri Lanka presented by AOD and powered by DIMO—the official custodians for the Mercedes-Benz brand in Sri Lanka. The summit will be held on 25 October as the event kicking off the fashion week, signifying its importance to the Lankan fashion landscape.

Lankan apparel makers’ sustainability discourse to mobilise the global fashion community

The Sustainable Fashion Summit is a multi-stakeholder event that has emerged as a powerful South Asian nexus for agenda-setting discussions on sustainability and the business of fashion. For 2018, the summit will be bringing together the world’s foremost authorities on sustainability and circular economy with industry leaders and value chain partners to discuss, debate and identify meaningful outcomes for an industry with a global value chain that is working hard to limit its damage to the environment and has a strong voice and platform to influence other industries.

Structured with a power-packed half-day format, the 2018 summit offers an intense immersive opportunity to make sustainability driven progress through discussion and networking with like-minded professionals and thinkers. 

As always, the summit presents an outstanding line-up of knowledgeable and inspiring high-level speakers, plus, roundtable panels that unite industry decision makers, entrepreneurs, designers, educators and fashion value chain members. The summit attendees will be welcomed by its founder Linda Speldewinde, and directed throughout the rest of the conference by its co-chairs Nikhil Hirdaramani—Director Sustainability/Hirdaramani Group and Robert Meeder—Chair and Professor of Fashion and Luxury Fashion Management at SCAD, Hong Kong. 

Sustainability futures

Opening the summit will be the co-founders of the world’s leading trend analysts and forecasters for the business of fashion—The Future Laboratory. Chris Sanderson and Martin Raymond will build their session on how fashion brands, makers and value chain should unite where governments fail to tackle the challenges of sustainability, because consumers are increasingly looking to the corporate world for answers. They will direct the conversation to where many brands practice greenwashing rather than actually reducing their environmental impact and how this leads to consumer mistrust, impacting the entire economy. 

The session will outline how fashion businesses, from makers to retailers, will need to prove a deep and far-sighted commitment to sustainability in order to connect with the next generation, which knows it is no longer a choice or something nice to have.

Galvanising a sustainable future from multiple fronts

Answering to the ground swell from within and sharing the experience of heading sustainable and circular initiatives with global retailers, SAC and ASHOKA Foundation’s Fabric for Change Globalizer, Kate Heiny will become part of the summit. She will discuss how strategic approaches from multiple fronts is a necessity to create sufficient momentum to assure a sustainable future for any business, including fashion. 

Sri Lanka Apparel sets the standard

Weighing Sri Lankan apparel industry’s thinking on what it takes to challenge the destructive business norms that govern the fashion business today, this session presents how Sri Lanka Apparel stands ahead, not only leading by example but also starting difficult conversations and encouraging others to engage, pushing the boundaries to find a global solution. 

Having adopted best in class business practices that saves the environment and cares for its people, and constantly engaging with brands and value chain partners to make a difference, the industry has stepped up once again to pilot the world’s first collaborative multi-stakeholder and industry-wide initiative ‘Social and Labor Convergence Project’. 

A panel including Nikhil Hirdaramani—Director Sustainability at Hirdaramani Group, Eranthi Premarathne—Director Sustainable Business at MAS Kreeda and Dr. Lloyd Fernando—Director of Global Business Development and Innovation, will explore the industry’s progress towards a circular future during this session.

Fashion for good: Innovation platform

Supported by an innovation hub in Amsterdam, a startup accelerator in Silicon Valley and a worldwide network of changemakers—‘Fashion for Good’—reimagines the way wearables are designed, made, worn and reused. By providing the inspiration and information needed to make it possible, revolutionising the fashion industry so that people, companies and the planet can flourish together, ‘Fashion for Good’ has sparked up a progressive chain of change. 

Rogier Van Mazijk—the Investment Manager at Fashion for Good, Roy Hirsch of Nano Textile, Karun Tiyagi of Proklean and Saranavan P of Trustrace will come together to discuss how changemakers of sustainability can influence fashion. 

Algae—the future fashion commodity

Designer, serial entrepreneur and the winner of H&M Foundation’s Global Change award in 2016, Tjeerd Veenhoven has made it his business to use design thinking through innovation, research, design and collaborative process to transition towards a circular economy. 

Zooming in on his project on algae, a great sustainable alternative, he explains the technology behind the process, the underlying innovation roadmap and the entire process from idea to first product, inspiring next gen designers, educators, and fashion industry professionals to think outside the box to reinvent wearables as we know it. 

Education, youth, moulding the future

Gen Z has an enormous stake in the present and future states of the planet. With almost half the population under age of 25, they will need to become the stewards of sustainable development and set an example to the generation to follow. Through education, resources, skills, political support and hope of course, they are best positioned to succeed where Gen X and Y failed. 

Prof. Heike Selmer—fashion design at Weißensee School of Art and Founder of greenlab, Tina Hjort—Lecturer and Project Developer of Sustainable Fashion at KEA Copenhagen School of Design & Technology, Clarissa Berg–Consultant of Collaborative Projects at KEA, Prof. Claudia Schwarz–fashion management at Mediadesign University of Applied Sciences Munich and Prof. Jennifer Varekamp–fashion and design at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, will come together to discuss this essential topic mapping fashion’s big picture, moderated by Robert Meeder. 

Challenge fashion

Our vision is no longer to talk about sustainability in fashion, but achieving a future of fashion in which all the aspects from social to ecological to circularity to women empowerment and craft are considered as a self-understanding for the fashion industry. 

Leveraging experience from 10 years of the Greenshowroom and Ethical Fashion Show in Berlin, now called NEONYT, the global hub for future-driven and sustainable fashion. With Berlin Fashion Week celebrated for sustainability as its unique selling point, the Founder of the Greenshowroom and author of ‘Fashion Made Fair’–Magdalena Schaffrin will give an overview on visionary concepts challenging fashion. 

The summit will also include a networking lunch allowing new discussions, open conversations and possible collaborations to light up. The Sustainable Fashion Summit will be held at DIMO 800, Mercedes-Benz Centre of Excellence in Colombo, unveiling sustainability as one of the most important thinking and practices that outline ‘Innovation Island’—the globally relevant theme of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2018 where Sri Lanka’s regional leadership as a creative hub will be in focus. 


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