During the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen on 27 and 28 June, Fashion Values hosted the Next Gen Assembly. Eight sustainable fashion champions aged between 18 and 35 from multiple disciplines and countries were sponsored to attend the conference and share knowledge between industry leaders and themselves. One of the Next Gen Assembly participants, Jesse Boga Madriaga, reflects on the experience.
The Global Fashion Summit has been nothing short of amazing for me. Through the Next Gen Assembly program, I was enabled to participate in and listen to meaningful conversations about fashion and its many layers that are interconnected with our global goals.
During the program, I connected with incredible fellows from all parts of the globe and we worked together in co-creating our mission and summit to-dos.
My favourite part about our collaboration is celebrating the idea that storytelling takes place, and form, in the work done by many players across the fashion system - all of us! The members of the Next Gen Assembly come from various cultures and industries, practicing business, design, film, digital fashion, communication and policy. Being convened together for learning and storytelling feels like being woven together as social tapestry elevates our purpose in fashion as youths.
During the Global Fashion Summit we were immersed in tasks, engagements and experiences that allowed us to get a strong feel of the fashion landscape and to find our place in it through ideas and stories that we share.
We contributed to the summit through taking notes, sharing stories in a roundtable panel, exchanging conversations with industry players and leaders. Every bit of this was truly enriching and we plan to compile stories of our experiences soon through a creative compendium.
During the summit, I was also paired up with a buddy (Bella Webb of Vogue Business!) who mentored me and provided me with insightful knowledge about the industry. I really liked how this experience empowered communicators like me to take an active role in fashion's sustainability journey by recognizing storytelling as a key element to creating a shared understanding that will drive collective action.
My favourite panel would have to be Shifting the Narrative which explored the United Nations Environment Program's Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook. Rachel Arthur, sustainable fashion advocacy lead was so inspiring and I love how she emphasises the role of communicators in the fashion system in terms of value creation and reshaping cultures that is much needed in today's journey to sustainability.
I also took in a lot of ideas from conversations with sustainable fashion activist Aditi Mayer and BBC StoryWorks' Mark Gavhure. Listening to their creative storytelling on fashion inspired a more structured thinking process for me.
My Next Gen Assembly journey started with my eagerness to learn more about fashion and my place in it as a communicator. I was especially drawn to the idea of storytelling, a core theme of the advocacy program.
I see my communication practice as playing a role in fashion's journey to become sustainable and be a force to achieve inclusive, fair, sustainable and equitable communities. I believe that making fashion conversations inclusive breaks down communication barriers and helps people make informed decisions to participate in sustainability efforts that are big and small. We can inspire collective action by empowering communities with knowledge about fashion and its many dimensions that affect our lives.
But I also acknowledge that I have so much to learn when it comes to navigating the fashion system and my place in it. The Next Gen Assembly was a perfect platform to venture into those learning opportunities.
Each of us in the Next Gen Assembly experience a unique fashion reality and we have varied ways of engaging and understanding it. The summit was where we all cross paths and come together to exchange stories that better our understanding of the bigger fashion picture and the common thread that we share.
The most important lesson I learned in the Next Gen Assembly is one about fashion's close relationship with storytelling--and how fashion can be a voice and a silencer. There are dominant voices that shape and limit our understanding of fashion. And there are also smaller voices that we should listen to. These small voices thrive in storytelling platforms like the Next Gen Assembly and they are voices that tell us about what fashion is and how it can be so much more.
I am eager to see more youths to convene in this program. The diversity of ideas and stories bring me so much energy to constantly reimagine fashion that has a purpose in people's lives.
My advice to youths who are eager to embark on the Next Gen Assembly: apply with an open heart and eagerness to learn. We all come from various points of understanding and levels of knowledge of fashion and sustainability. Your story and voice matters!
The program is going to take you for a ride and fashion will never be the same again with all the stories that are waiting to unfold and be told.
For more insights on the role communication plays in sustainable fashion, watch our webinar “How Can Fashion Media Value Society?”
Jesse is a journalism-trained writer in the Philippines who has worked extensively in news and lifestyle media, PR, and science communication.
He writes for the Mindanao Times and the Philippine Daily Inquirer. His current graduate school journey in the University of Mindanao (MA Communication) explores the role of community voices in fashion and sustainability.
As a WEF Global Shaper, Jesse takes leadership roles in convening youths and communities for inclusive conversations about sustainability. He believes in the power of writing and creating storytelling-centred platforms to achieve global goals.