Redress Raleigh Eco-Fashion and Textiles Conference Re-Cap
Last weekend, Redress Raleigh united industry experts, entrepreneurs, and innovators from across the United States in Raleigh, North Carolina, for their first annual Eco-Fashion and Textiles Conference. Redress Raleigh has been a catalyst for more environmentally and socially aware fashion. It was very exciting to witness their success in hosting their conference alongside their eco-fashion show which is now in its fifth successful year progressing small and local eco-fashion businesses.
Four notable Themes were present over the course of the conference weekend, those take-aways which were most prevalent include:
Collaboration – The theme of collaboration could be heard everywhere from the lectures, to lunchtime discussions, and even on the runway. Susie Bruer, Founder of Co-Lab54 and author of Blue is the New Black (BISPublishers, 2012), lectured on the value created through developing lasting working relationships with vendors, retailers, and manufacturers, as well as with customers and end users for fashion and apparel products. Sustainable products are only truly as sustainable as their least sustainable partner along the supply chain. Partnering with the many people, who come into contact with an item over its lifecycle, increases the likelihood that maximum quality and level of sustainability achievable to be reached.
Shared Working spaces – Both in person and online, shared working spaces that encourage business partnerships and facilitate collaboration between communities are reigniting regional innovation in production and manufacturing. Bob Bland, Director of Manufacture NY, a fashion incubator/factory hybrid, talked about how moving small businesses engaged in everything from designing to manufacturing under one roof will save many new and small businesses time and money comparing to their previously available options.
Educational Outreach – Sustainability is a product characteristic born along with the cultivation of raw materials utilized. Outreach is necessary to educate industry partners and customers about the value of incorporating these materials and purchasing these goods over competing products which are manufactured in a less ethically and environmentally responsible fashion. Eddie Ingle, Unifi’s VP of Supply Chain, spoke about how and why Unifi became the first yarn and fiber manufacturer in 25 years to put out an educational outreach program for industry and the public on a newly created product. They launched Repreve.com to engage consumers in the process of manufacturing eco-friendly recycled products that support the natural environment.
Communicating your sustainability story – Supply Chain Transparency is a huge part of having a successful sustainability story. Designing and manufacturing products with longevity of benefit to the customer, their health, and the environment they occupy, drives where customer focused businesses invest their sustainability efforts. These efforts to genuinely meet the markets demand must be communicated loudly and clearly, not just to your customer but to all supply chain partners as well. Eric Henry, President of TS Designs, a North Carolina t-shirt manufacturing and printing business, shared his company’s successful experience in producing dirt to shirt t-shirts that travel less than 750 miles and support over 500 jobs within their region.
Keynote Speaker Elizabeth Cline, Author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion(Penguin Portfolio/2012) dubbed the rapidly growing push towards ethically and environmentally friendly textiles: The Slow Fashion Movement, and nobody in the audience dissented on the appropriateness of it being called just that. Cline shared research out of her recently released book to further drive home the point that the current state of the fast-fashion driven apparel and textile industries is not sustainable for customers, our environment, our economy, or our businesses. One finding included the fact that there are”219 Million garments made worldwide per day, and someone in the United States buy 1 in 4 of these items”.
Authentic sustainability focuses on quality over quantity; it places an emphasis on the human factor and craftsmanship, as well as the environmental impacts of work preformed. The Slow Fashion Movement is a grassroots industry wide effort placing a greater value in workers domestically and worldwide. Constant rising pressure on the fashion and textile Industry to become more socially responsible, has made pursuing Eco-Ethical fashion an increasingly influential component of these products overall value offering. Redress Raleigh’s Conference was a hit; it brought together key players in this movement and further solidified its relevance to the current global marketplace.
To learn more about Redress Raleigh visit: http://redressraleigh.com/