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Brief Published: 20 Oct 2020

Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2020: Redesigning Values


How do we define values in fashion post-crisis? That was the question at this year’s virtual Copenhagen Fashion Summit (October 12-13). From pushes for local manufacturing initiatives to pleas for authenticity, speakers made the case for a more sustainable, inclusive and values-led post-pandemic fashion industry.

A Chance to Reset

The sustainably focused summit called on brands to view the Covid-19 pandemic as a chance to reset and rethink the way they operate. As many designers struggled pre-pandemic to keep up with the multiple yearly collections on the fashion calendar, lockdowns could provide the perfect opportunity to implement real change.

The crisis has given us an opportunity to reset, to rethink and learn. An opportunity to actually rebuild the fashion industry for a more sustainable and more resilient future. But only if we stop taking short-term actions.

Eva Kruse, CEO, Global Fashion Agenda

Paul Polman, co-founder of UK business development foundation Imagine also cited Covid-19 as a turning point for the industry, saying “we cannot have healthy people on an unhealthy planet.” Brands would be wise to see the pandemic as an opportunity for a reset instead of a setback. For more on taking the space to pause, slow down and do things better, see Sustainable Fashion: A How-To Guide.

Think Small

Small and slow doesn’t need to be a bad thing, as many speakers discussed the value of thinking locally. Local sourcing and manufacturing, made-to-order production and investment into second-hand and upcycling were all major focuses of the summit.

I believe being small, smart, and lean can help the industry be better equipped to adapt to change. Producing locally and keeping inventory in flux with demand are also pillars of building a sustainable future.

Heron Preston, Creative Director, Heron Preston

London-based designer Priya Ahluwalia was also present, championing the use of deadstock and vintage materials to create new garments, enforcing a crafted, “make do” attitude. For more, see Covid-19: Fashion’s Manufacturing Responses.

Value-Led Luxury

Another major focus of the summit was diversity, inclusivity and the need for brands to hold themselves accountable. Gucci chief executive Marco Bizzarri and Norblack Norwhite creative director Mriga Kapadiya both called for diversity to be redefined and for brands to practice what they preach when it comes to speaking out against injustices. Transparency is key, and the message is clear: diversity must be a priority and not a passing trend.

Diversity desperately needs to be redefined. Diversity and representation are crucial to reflecting the real people with the purchasing power for this industry, and this simply cannot be a token or trend in a marketing campaign.

Mriga Kapadiya, Co-Founder, Creative Director & CEO, Norblack Norwhite

For more on this, see Luxury Leading Via Values in our Look Ahead 2020, and look out for our new report, Luxury Fashion’s Pandemic-Era Priorities, publishing in November.