Detlef Braun, Kerry Bannigan, Lilliffer Seiler
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Interview: Kerry Bannigan, Founder of the Conscious Fashion Campaign

A blueprint for a better future

Kerry Bannigan is the founder of the Conscious Fashion Campaign that is bridging the gap between politics and the fashion industry. Bannigan reveals how the collaboration with the United Nations came up, which companies have already joined and what’s planned next.

January 2020

You founded the Conscious Fashion Campaign pilot in 2018 with an official launch in December 2019 to drive the change for a more sustainable future together with the fashion industry. The Sustainable Development Goals, 17 goals to transform our world into a more sustainable one, are the foundation of the agenda. In your opinion, which of the goals is the most important one for the industry?

As the blueprint to achieving a better and fairer future for all, the Sustainable Development Goals address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The fashion industry heavily impacts on most, if not all of these challenges. Sustainable Development Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals is a key goal for the fashion industry to achieve change. The potential for change when you engage the fashion industry is exponential. If the industry collaborates, connects, shares findings and create multi-stakeholder partnerships and initiatives together to shape the future of fashion, we will create dynamic impact, innovative lasting change and deliver on our core mission to make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality.

The Conscious Fashion Campaign is working together with the United Nations. How did you come up to the collaboration and how are you working together?

The Conscious Fashion Campaign is in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships. We were discussing the need to bridge the gap between the influential fashion industry and the United Nations to enable the Sustainable Development Goals to scale. After a pilot year of research it was discovered that we could achieve high outreach to fashion industry decision makers within the categories of fashion brands, retailers, manufacturers, mills and media by aligning with the leading global fashion industry events; such as tradeshows, fashion weeks, conferences and speaker series.

Our partnership for the campaign aims to engage global fashion industry events to commit to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The initiative champions fashion as an influential sector to address the world’s most pressing issues and lead a future that leaves no one behind. The campaign is dedicated to driving change through advocacy, education and engagement of industry stakeholders to create a sustainable future for all.

How are you raising awareness for the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations within the industry?

To achieve the 2030 agenda the Conscious Fashion Campaign urges industry event leaders to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals into their business models, incorporate circular production solutions, highlight key innovations and facilitate knowledge share.

To date in our pilot phase we focused mainly on global tradeshows and at these the partner programs ranged from placing impact symbols in the event directories to find brands implementing better business practices, dedicated blog series to share industry work, exhibition pop-ups highlighting conscious brands onsite, workshops and seminars with United Nations representatives and industry leaders, receptions celebrating the work of industry innovators, awards recognizing industry impact leadership, video series, conscious fashion lookbooks and more. Each tradeshow has truly embedded the Conscious Fashion Campaign into their event DNA and we are looking forward to the next steps in 2020 as we fully grow this with all partners.

Which companies have already joined the Conscious Fashion Campaign?

From the fashion tradeshow sector we are working with the Texpertise Network of Messe Frankfurt (Germany) including the Neonyt tradeshow, Informa (USA) – Project, Coterie and Magic, Hyve (UK)- Pure London with a nationwide rolling out coming, Who’s Next (France) – IMPACT and Olah (New York, Amsterdam, London and China) - Kingpins and Transformers.

December 2019 saw the official launch of the Conscious Fashion Campaign and we held our first partner announcement at the United Nations Headquarters in New York with Messe Frankfurt.

What can companies do to ensure environmentally conscious and socially responsible production?

By using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework companies can align with specific issues that they wish to combat and integrate the solutions into their business models. The Sustainable Development Goals could be a guiding resource to advocate for a new paradigm in fashion and raise awareness of environmental and ethically-sound principles for a sustainable future. The fashion industry is complex, and each company has varying items to review from their supply chain to waste management. The hopeful news is that everybody, every business can play a role in the critical need to act now for a better world for all.

What can you share about the pilot phase of the Conscious Fashion Campaign?

Over the past year in our pilot program we engaged in global activations to garner a better understanding of what was happening in the current fashion event landscape within sustainability. Some of our activities included prominent supporting partners in USA, UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands and China. We also introduced the Sustainable Development Goals to over 96,000 retailers in 87 countries and worked with 460 conscious fashion brands globally. Together with the United Nations Office for Partnerships, the Conscious Fashion Campaign organized workshops, educational seminars and one-on-one advice at trade fairs. Participants included representatives from GAP, Marks and Spencer, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney, Tommy Hilfiger and many more. As part of the United Nations General Assembly 74th Session, we presented the results of the pilot project together with the Lenzing Group and Avery Dennison.  

What steps will the Conscious Fashion Campaign take in the next five years?

The Conscious Fashion Campaign commits to actively support the Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development by bridging the gap between the United Nations and global major fashion events to enable the Sustainable Development Goals to scale and create multi-stakeholder partnerships with concrete strategies for action.

The initiative will be engaging with leading global fashion events in tradeshows, fashion weeks, conferences and speaker series to encourage responsible marketing, operations and logistics that are mindful of people and planet. The campaign is keen to align with waste management expertise and solutions to transform the worlds major fashion events into circular productions.

#Kerry Bannigan #SDGFashion #Sustainable Development Goals #United Nations #Conscious Fashion Campaign #Sustainable Fashion


Find more information here:

Facebook: @consciousfashioncampaign

Twitter: @consciousfash

Instagram: @consciousfashioncampaign


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