EFA Conference 2023: European Fashion Industry Unites for Sustainability and Regulation

2024-03-05 23:39:16

The creative fashion industries are showing their unity and continuing to mobilize on sustainability and regulatory issues. The European Fashion Alliance (EFA), which had already met in Brussels during a round table in June 2023, organized this Tuesday March 5, still in the Belgian capital, a first conference to take stock of the progress in the sector in terms of ecological transition and regulation, in the presence, among others, of Iliana Ivanova, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and the highest fashion authorities European.

Representatives of the main fashion authorities met in Brussels – ph DM

The opportunity for the latter to reaffirm their unity through the EFA, an alliance founded in 2022, which now acquired a legal entity in Berlin at the start of the year, bringing together 28 members, 25 fashion federations, 10,000 SMEs and 11 Fashion Weeks. More than a hundred people came to attend this event, during which the EFA presented its very first “Status of European Fashion” survey, taking stock of the creative fashion industry in Europe.

Among the most striking results of this research carried out among players in the sector in Europe (brands and professionals), emerges the difficulty of companies in committing to the ecological transition, in particular SMEs (47% of which employ less than ten people). ), which represent more than 90% of the textile and clothing industry in Europe. If 88% of those questioned indicate having invested in sustainability in terms of human and financial resources, 59% say they are not equipped with a tool or support for a sustainable transition and only 52% of respondents say they are aware of the regulations. on the ecodesign of sustainable products (Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Relugation – ESPR), which the European Parliament’s environment committee adopted at the beginning of the year after it had been approved by the states.

Involve SMEs

This introduces, among other things, a digital passport for a wide range of products including clothing. It also stipulates a ban on destroying new, unsold clothing, but also a ban on recycling unsold items. “Large luxury groups are aware of developments in eco-design regulations. This is not the case for SMEs, who are not yet all involved. It is also our role to inform them about these issues “, notes Elke Timmerman, in charge of international relations at the Flanders District of Creativity.

“There is still a lot to do, also in terms of image. In fact, 66% of those questioned think that the general public has a negative perception of fashion, because it is associated with the bad practices of fast fashion. We must rectify shooting and better explain the real value of creative fashion,” she continues. “This survey is a first basis, which will also help us to define our recommendations at European level. For us, what is important is that we are all aligned,” she concludes.

“The important thing is to put creativity at the center. Our demands have been heard on eco-responsibility and traceability. But other points must be refined, because they are too general to be applied as they are in the fashion sector. Particularly regarding circularity and recycling, because not all materials can be recycled in textiles. We ask to be listened to,” explains the president of the Italian Fashion Chamber (CNMI) Carlo Capasa.

The members of the EFA particularly want to make their voices heard while the European Commission has yet to adopt the delegated acts (i.e. the implementing decrees), which will specify for each sector how to put the new regulations into practice. ESPR. “With this first study that we have just published, all the sustainable issues have been weighed. For us, the objective is to express ourselves with a single voice to preserve, build and promote the values ​​of creativity and know-how Europeans. In our case, the criteria ultimately adopted must reflect these values”, comments Pascal Morand, executive president of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode.

“In our approach to sustainability, we must think in terms of values ​​and not volumes. There are cultural, intellectual, social, economic and environmental values. All of this must be taken into account and the process must be integrated at the level of the entire company”, summarizes Guy Morgan, the sustainable development director of Chanel, who participated in one of the round tables. A process that is not always easy, especially for smaller companies like those of independent creators, like the Dane Henrik Vibskov. “With all these new rules, we are confused. We would need a full-time person just to take care of that, which is impossible for small houses like mine,” he slips.

For her part, Ruth Reichstein, policy coordinator in the office of the President of the European Commission, underlines “the crucial role of the creative sector and the importance of using it to promote the ecological transition”, while recognizing that it is necessary “a greater coherence.

“Today, two actors are engaged in this process of creating values, on the one hand the European institutions with the Green Deal, and on the other the creative industry with the effort it supports towards sustainability. If both continue in this direction, the whole planet will benefit”, believes Simone Cipriani, active within the United Nations Alliance for Sustainable Fashion and founder of the Ethical Fashion Initiative, recalling how “Europe is an oasis, where we think about a future that is possible and dignified for all.”

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