Centre for Sustainable Fashion | Ella Andrew | 12.20.2022

The Power of Innovation, Community and Rebellion: the Fashion Values Society Hack for those that missed it!

In April this year, we launched the 2022 Fashion Values Challenge – an open call to global changemakers, to explore the question, “How can fashion value society?” In anticipation of the Challenge submission kick-off later this month, we hosted the Fashion Values Society Hack.

The Hack welcomed fashion design, media, and business students to re-imagine fashion for people and the planet. Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) convened two expert panels of fashion designers, entrepreneurs, and communicators to discuss the value fashion brings to society. These insightful discussions were complemented by a practical BODYPOLITIC workshop, delivered by Extinction Rebellion.

So, what happened? For those who missed it, here’s a run-down of the day…

The first panel discussion invited The Revival and The Trampery to join our Fashion Values partners, Kering, IBM and Vogue Business, in exploring the key enablers for innovation in relation to fashion and society. Yayra Agbofah (The Revival) highlighted the need for African countries to be included in the global sustainable fashion conversation, as well as asking the question, “What’s fashion if it is making us look good at the expense of nature?” Kirsty McGregor (Vogue Business) explored the role of media and communications in encouraging transformation at the industry and consumer level, through bringing inspiring stories to light, as well as calling out evident greenwashing. Pauline Pigott (Kering) noted the progress that Kering and its brands have made in adopting more responsible practices, moving beyond a focus on consumers to consider the impacts on their supply chain partners. For example, Kering has developed an environmental profit and loss account to ensure that corrective action is taken to address its impacts on nature and livelihoods.

The second panel discussion invited emerging brands Sabinna, Dotte, BEEN and Wear Matter to discuss their key challenges and opportunities, and to share their approaches to better valuing nature and society. Asya Ter-Hovakimyan (Sabinna) discussed the potential for free repair services to build stronger relationships with customers, while Genia Mineeva (BEEN) noted the power of tying innovation with local design expertise to realise opportunities for designing accessories made entirely from recycled materials. Gemma McAllister (Wear Matter) offered insights into the role of adaptive and functional clothing in being able to empower as many people as possible without exclusion, and Louise Weiss (Dotte) shared insights from Dotte’s scheme for recycling over-loved items, as well as highlighting the challenges facing emerging brands regarding access to sufficient funding. The visionaries representing these emerging brands were united by a collective passion for designing garments and accessories that better support people and planet, through adopting innovative and community-focused practices.

The second portion of the day welcomed Clare Farrell and Miles Glyn from Extinction Rebellion to deliver a BODYPOLITIC workshop, encouraging students to engage in a practical, hands-on session. Students shared their thoughts on the panel discussions and exchanged their perspectives on the links between fashion and society, while upcycling their pre-loved garments with emblematic patches. Students presented their feedback on the session to the wider group, as well as exchanging their perspectives and experiences with the expert panel members. What did they learn? Their key takeaways included:

“Each one of us has the power to make a small positive difference.” 

“This event made me realise the power of spirit and rebellion.” 

“This event has encouraged me to read more about things I am passionate about.” 

Through sharing their visions for a fashion industry that better values nature and society, our Fashion Values partners, The Revival, The Trampery, the emerging brands and Extinction Rebellion offered inspiration for 2022 Challenge participants. Our panellists emphasised the need to shift from “profit and growth to planet and people”, offering practical examples of environmental impact accounting and waste prevention. The power of "people as changemakers” also emerged as a key theme, with panellists highlighting the capacity for communities to foster behavioural change. Ultimately, we want 2022 Challenge participants to help create a world where “fashion is an ecosystem where everybody wins”. The Fashion Values partners would like to share our appreciation with the panel members and students for offering invaluable contributions during the Hack.

What’s next? Use these learnings to help shape your application to the Fashion Values Challenge.

We want students and emerging businesses to consider how you or your business could make a difference to fashion’s relationship with society, through the 2022 Fashion Values Challenge, which opens for submissions in mid-December. Your idea or business could help to shift the fashion industry towards a more sustainable future: one that supports society rather than exploits it. With the chance to win a 6-month support programme to develop your idea with input from professionals from Kering, IBM and Vogue Business, this is not an opportunity to miss! Take a look at our innovative 2021 winners for inspiration.

In the coming months, Fashion Values will continue to progress with its vision to make sustainability education for fashion open, accessible, and transformative. Watch this space for the release of new learning resources, including insightful Voices articles from across the industry, Methods exploring subject-specific topics, and free online Courses exploring the relationship between fashion, economics, nature, and culture. We’re here to support the next generation of designers, strategists and communicators create sustainably!

Also check out our IG reel from the Hack for more inspiration!