Centre for Sustainable Fashion | Charley Copperthwaite | 03.27.2024

The Importance of Storytelling: Insights from Next Gen Assembly's 'Interwoven' Report

“With storytelling as our core instrument, we engage everyone in a journey towards sustainability, inclusivity, equity, just transition and equitable purchasing practices to make exponential impact.” - Next Gen Assembly

After the exciting announcement of our 2024 Next Gen Assembly cohort, we look back on the activities of last year’s members and how they have shaped the trajectory of storytelling as a tool for amplifying change in fashion.

The Next Gen Assembly programme was launched last year by Centre for Sustainable Fashion and Global Fashion Agenda, and aims to bring together changemakers from across the globe to voice the concerns of their generation and accelerate positive impact across the fashion system. Our 2023 cohort first convened through a series of bespoke online workshops and completed the Fashion Values: Cultures online course. Following this, the group attended the 2023 Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen and participated in a number of activities and networking opportunities, playing a crucial role in community-building and advocating for change.

Storytelling is central to the Next Gen Assembly’s journey, and the 2023 cohort have worked hard to nurture narratives, amplify voices and enhance shared understanding of what sustainability in fashion means. Storytelling is a powerful tool to approach the uncertainty of our current times and a method of communicating and documenting diverse fashion cultures. Stories of restoration, regeneration and human creativity are more important than ever if we want to pivot the system towards a more prosperous position.

To capture their journey, the Assembly recently published Interwoven: Fashion Storytelling in the time of a Climate Crisis. This report brings together the voices and stories of our members, sharing valuable insights from their time in the programme and their visions for the future.

“The most potent resource that the Next Gen Assembly brings to the table is its collective voice, which enables our multidisciplinary and international group to use storytelling as an impactful medium. We aim to weave diverse narratives that can provide a more holistic and equitable understanding of the fashion industry today.” – Next Gen Assembly

The diversity of experience and perspectives amongst our members reflects the aim of the Assembly to weave diverse narratives that encourage more holistic understandings and approaches to fashion. From efforts to unpack waste culture to explorations into identity and meaning amid the climate crisis, Interwoven beautifully captures each member’s unique perspective on how storytelling can drive ambition for a world where fashion gives back to the environment and supports life in all forms. Through their industry interactions and participation in the programme, our cohort have been able to harness their storytelling to demand for greater action and policy implementation from those at the top. The key message that continually surfaces throughout the report is that sustainable fashion is more than just clothes and speaks to a system that needs effective policies in place to turn goals and ambitions into tangible solutions. The recognition that fixing the future of fashion comes with great pressure is also communicated but is quickly softened with empowering affirmations on how collective thought and action bring hope, thus highlighting the group’s understanding of how to approach the challenges we currently face.

Our 2023 cohort have identified many areas of improvement for the fashion industry and have opened up a range of conversations across key topics in sustainability which we hope to continue this year. Looking ahead to what is next for Next Gen Assembly, we are growing our network and introducing new voices into the programme with our second iteration of members. The power of storytelling will continue to be harnessed as a tool for engaging in meaningful conversations and advocating change. In this next chapter for Next Gen Assembly, our new group will convene to explore the central question: “how can fashion value economies of wellbeing?”. Members will navigate ways to redesign the dominant economic practices in fashion that are contributing to the exploitation of people and planet, and how to redefine the values that underpin fashion’s economy. In a system where prosperity and success are measured by simple financial indicators, the Next Gen Assembly will play a crucial role in challenging the status quo and opening the door to new possibilities for a more just fashion economy.

The Interwoven report is now available to publicly download from the Global Fashion Agenda website. Click here to download your own copy and read in full. For more information on the Next Gen Assembly and what is in store for our new cohort, click here. The 2024 Global Fashion Summit is taking place in Copenhagen from the 21-23 May, so stay tuned for more updates around the event and the activities of Next Gen Assembly and Fashion Values!

(Image credit: Global Fashion Agenda)