Winners of the Innovation Awards were announced at an exclusive industry event at The Hospital Club in London. Launched by the Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF), the industry body for ethical fashion, the Innovation competition is aimed atsupporting emerging designers and businesses in the ethical fashion arena. Celebrities, fashion leaders, designers, press and representatives of the ethical and commercial fashion system gathered in London on Friday 17 September to hear the winning names unveiled in three major categories: Pure, Estethica and Fairtrade Foundation.
Pure category: Olga Olsson works with women and young artisans in Rio de Janeiro to create luxury swimwear and Feng Ho creates versatile garments that transit flawlessly between day and night.
Estethica category: Ahilya creates hand creations by ancient methods in Kashmir and Lu Flux focuses on complex techniques that adorn simple shapes to create wearable clothing.
Fairtrade cotton category: Ada Zanditon creates desirable fashion using organic and natural fabrics as well as innovative waste reducing and energy conscious solutions. The designer will work closely with the Fairtrade Foundation on her collection.
The Fairtrade cotton category is a first for the competition and sees the EFF and the Fairtrade Foundation team up to mark the 5th anniversary of Fairtrade certified cotton in the UK.
Judging of more than 130 applicants in the competition was conducted by a panel of high profile fashion professionals including Editor of Vogue.com Dolly Jones and Laura Bailey, Model and Fairtrade Foundation Ambassador. High quality in design, ideas and materials were the key criteria.
Commenting on the calibre of applicants, the EFF said: “We are very impressed by the amazing level of the applicants. The ethical fashion has new very professional ambassadors.”
While it is great to see ethical fashion doing so well, the UK industry still has some way to go as the ‘Value of the UK Fashion Industry’ report highlighted. Commissioned by the British Fashion Council, the report stressed the crying need to promote existing best practice on sustainability and partner with government to implement its Sustainable Clothing Action Plan.
In an exclusive interview with Fashion United, Tamsin Lejeune, Director of the EFF, explains the key challenges not only facing ethical fashion, but fashion businesses as a whole.
“Sustainability in the fashion industry has never been more pressing,” Lejeune says. “At present the environmental impact of the industry is on a par with the chemical industry. It is simply not going to be possible for current practices, from harmful chemical use to excessive energy and water use and exploitative labour practices, to continue. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, these practices will become increasingly expensive for fashion businesses and reduce their competitiveness and secondly, resource and environmental depletion will reduce longevity for fashion companies which do not integrate sustainability.”
She continues: “The Ethical Fashion Forum is the industry body for ethical fashion, representing 4000 industry members in over 100 countries. Membership is growing at 250 new members per month - sustainable fashion is now the fastest growing movement in fashion. There is already a close correlation between those businesses which are most effectively integrating sustainable practices at the core of their business practices, and those which are seeing most commercial success. From the largest high street retailers to small business, the business models now at the leading edge of the fashion industry are focusing on sustainability.”
“This issue is not just critical to designers and businesses in the ethical fashion arena, but to all fashion businesses,” she warns.
According to Lejeune, we can expect the following major developments in the UK industry over the next 5 years:
“Both consumers and buyers will increasingly expect high ethical standards by fashion businesses; communicated using recognised and accredited labelling, as the rule rather than the exception to it.
Official labels such as the Fairtrade mark will become far more prevalent and recognised across the entire fashion sector.
Regulations and tax will make unsustainable practices increasingly expensive and favour exemplary ethical practices by fashion businesses.
Celebrity support for sustainable fashion will increase dramatically and the fashion labels which integrate sustainability alongside excellent design will benefit.
The industry will galvanise towards a set of recognised sustainability standards and goals, and a consumer communication campaign around these. The businesses which are clearly not making progress in relation to sustainability will experience reduced sales as a result. Those with exemplary practices will increasingly benefit from positive media coverage and loyal customers.”