We, @Denimology got really impressed with the panel discussion about transparency and sustainability that took place during the Copenhagen Fashion Summit earlier this month.

“Transparency has become a bit of a buzzword in the fashion industry and judging by the number of times it was mentioned at this year’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit, it is a trend that we are not going to shake anytime soon. Quite the contrary, transparency is reshaping how brands and retailers interact with their suppliers and consumers. But can it really transform the entire fashion industry? C&A Foundation’s Leslie Johnston hosted a panel of experts to find out.”

Speakers included Stella McCartney (CEO and designer Stella McCartney), Carry Somers and Orosla de Castro (Founders of Fashion Revolution), Clare Press (Sustainability editor-at-large Vogue Australia), Anna Gedda (Head of sustainability at H&M), David Fischer (Founder Highsnobiety), Dio Kurazawa (Founder of The Bear Scouts), Mostafiz Uddin (Managing director, Denim Expert Ltd. and founder & CEO, Bangladesh Apparel Exchange), Nicolaj Reffstrup (CEO of Ganni), Pamela Batty (Vice President and Corporate Responsibility at Burberry), Paul van Zyl (CEO Maiyet), Paul Dillinger (Levi Strauss & Co.), Sébastien Fabre (CEO & CO-founder of Vestiaire Collective), Tonne Goodman (Fashion Director Vogue US) and many more.

Johnston kicked off the first panel discussion of the 2018 Copenhagen Fashion Summit, Enabling Transparency to Create Change, by defining transparency as: “Disclosure of information in a standardised manner that is accessible to all and enables comparison.”

“Transparency is the first step towards a different culture for the fashion industry – one where brands become accountable and open, and consumers and citizens are ready to scrutinize and stay vigilant,” said Orsola de Castro, founder and creative director of Fashion Revolution.

The 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh was the fashion industry’s wake-up call, firmly placing lack of transparency under the spotlight. “The fact that in the aftermath of Rana Plaza, some brands still didn’t know if they were producing garments there, was a ‘never again’ moment,” de Castro added.

Participants of the panel agreed that five years on, the fashion industry has witnessed a major shift in the acceptance of supply chain transparency. Brands and manufacturers finally accept that it’s no longer possible to hide behind closed doors.

Key stakeholders are embracing transformative partnerships, strategies and initiatives to create a more open and honest global fashion industry. The Bangladesh Safety Accord was a breakthrough in holding garment companies to account for the working conditions in their supply chains and covers around 60 major international brands using 1,200 Bangladeshi factories.

And in 2017, Fashion Revolution launched the Fashion Transparency Index, a benchmark tracking how much brands reveal about their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts. Retailer Target is one of the 150 brands ranked in the index, joining a growing list of companies publicly committed to transparency in its supply chain and identifying areas of improvement.

The answer that arguably drew the most applause from the crowd was from Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Denim Expert Ltd., and founder and CEO of Bangladesh Apparel Exchange, when he illustrated the barrier of cost by comparing transparency to organic food. “Somebody has to pay for it, whether that’s consumers or brands.”

Mostafiz Uddin

This said, we all agree that it definitely is worth paying whatever we can for transparency and anything that helps keeping our planet clean and alive.

There is an amazing video about what has been discussed at the summit, and we suggest to all of our readers to watch it here.

Orsola de Castro, Mostafiz Uddin and Frouke Bruinsma
environmental friendly
Stella McCartney
sustainable brands
Anna Gedda (Head of sustainability at H&M)
Left: H&M Conscious Collection 2018, Right: Antonia Böhlke (Founder of MOCHNI)