Anna Copeland

WEAR Top Ten – The Best of 2021

WEAR Top Ten – The Best of 2021

Anna Copeland

Anna Copeland

What a year it’s been! Since going virtual in 2020, our WEAR (World Ethical Apparel Roundtable) webinar series has been a tremendous success in reaching an even wider, more global audience. In just the past year, we have hosted a total of 28 sessions over 11 webinars, with over 60 speakers and 3,000+ attendees! 

With support from our generous sponsors, we have been able to dig deep into the most pressing environmental and social issues in the fashion industry and engage our community including speakers, sponsors and attendees – in meaningful discussions. 

The goal of our in-person conference was always to motivate attendees to create change and accelerate sustainability throughout the fashion system so, we hope that our virtual WEAR webinar experience was able to do this too.

To close out the year, we’ve pulled together our top 10 list of favourite sessions over the past year (which was a really hard decision, as they were all so good!). These, along with all the other top-notch sessions from 2021, will only be available for free for the remainder of the year so be sure to check them out while you still can! Next year, these resources will only be available free for FTA members, and on a pay-per-view basis for non-members.

In case you missed the big news, we will no longer be hosting monthly WEAR webinars and are excited to be reviving the WEAR Conference. WEAR 2022 will be a two-part hybrid event – a combination of in-person (yay!) and virtual – one day in the Spring and one in the Fall, both in Toronto. Stay tuned for details!

In the meantime, we hope you can put some time aside to check out our WEAR Top Ten before the end of 2021!

10: Decarbonizing the Fashion Industry

The fashion industry is responsible for 4-8% of annual global carbon emissions. At this pace, the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions will surge more than 50% by 2030. Through the lens of SDG 13 (Climate Action) this panel explores the carbon footprint of fashion’s raw materials and efforts being made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, through more efficient production methods, the use of renewable energy and embracing new technologies.

9: The Future of Sustainable Chemistry: What’s Next? 

Chemicals are involved in every step of the fashion supply chain, and there is no debating that water and air emissions caused by hazardous chemicals severely impact the environment, workers, as well as the local communities in manufacturing countries. How can the fashion industry take the lead in reducing the use of harmful chemicals and become an influential global force in sustainability and circularity? This panel provides insight on the factors that make textile chemicals sustainable, how brands and manufacturers can use safer alternatives and the future of sustainable chemistry.

8: Foundations of ESG

PART 1 – Introduction to ESG Investing

Carol Smith provides a brief introduction to ESG investing, uncovering the issues, Including industry terminology, ESG strategies, case studies and trends.

PART 2 – The ‘G’ in ESG

Leading ESG strategies begin (and end!) with sound governance. Jessica Butts, ESG Global Advisors, and Leor Rotchild, CBSR, led a discussion on the ‘G’ in ESG, exploring best practices of industry-leading organizations. The conversation focused on the evolving expectations for Boards and Management teams to integrate environmental and social issues into their corporate governance, oversight, and risk management. Attendees will come away from the session with a clear sense of the questions to ask, possible models and best practices to follow as they look to influence effective ESG governance in their own organizations moving forward.

7: Natural Fibre Standards & Certifications 

Consumers are demanding higher standards from the products they bring home, leading to the rising importance of organic labeling and ecological standards and certifications. To be certified organic, natural fibres such as cotton, wool, hemp, and flax must be grown and produced under stringent standards that relate to the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Why is this certification an important label for consumers and how is it different from other certifications?

6: SDG 12: Responsible Consumption & Production

We have seen significant progress in recent years towards more responsible production in the fashion industry and more conscious consumption amongst shoppers. However, this doesn’t negate the fact that we are still producing and consuming too much. In fact, research shows that people tend to buy more just because something is labelled “circular” or “recycled”. WRI estimates that if consumption continues at its current rate, we will require three times as many natural resources by 2050 compared to what was used in 2000. This session explores how we can use SDG 12: Responsible Consumption & Production as a framework for building sustainable business practices and to help guide consumer behaviour by integrating it into national and sectoral strategies.

5: Inspiring a More Diverse & Inclusive Fashion Landscape

In this fireside chat, attendees learned how the collaboration between Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto and Quebec based retailer La Maison Simons was formed. Sage and Oceane discuss their perspectives and experience working with indigenous designers from across Canada, and how the collection was designed to provide a wider audience with access to the unique and rich creativity of the 8 indigenous artists. The two also address how cultural appropriation (vs appreciation) was managed, and what the future has in store.

4: Taking Action on Circularity

Circular fibers and yarns are critical to designing for circularity; thus enabling brands, innovators and manufacturers to design for the scale of safer, cleaner fibers that build a more resilient fashion industry. Fashion Positive, in collaboration with multiple industry stakeholders, has developed the first-ever circular materials guidelines for cellulosic and plant based fibers. This session explores how these guidelines will both help to create coherence and a path toward action, innovation and systems change, as well as how they are a critical tool to help the industry collaborate vertically and horizontally, and to actualize circularity beyond commitments.

3: Collaborations that Accelerate Material Innovation 

The urgent shift towards a more circular and sustainable fashion industry requires accountability, transparency, and a systems-focused approach. This panel discussion shed some light on how brands are collaborating with their supply chain partners to use more sustainable and innovative materials and to ensure they are meeting the needs of consumers.

2: The Black Experience: Addressing Racism in Fashion 

Social media influencer, model and actress Lindura, and award-winning designer George Sully, discuss their experiences as Black creatives working in the fashion industry.  Though BIPOC representation is slowly increasing, there is much more to levelling the playing field if we truly want to achieve anti-racism in the fashion industry. George and Lindura will touch on tokenism, appropriation, sustainability & more. 

1: A Human Rights Approach to Policy (MAR)

The global fashion industry employs more than 75 million workers worldwide, many who are located in the Global South and do not share the same rights or protections as those in the West. In this session, we looked at transparency and due diligence requirements for apparel companies to uphold human rights standards, in an effort to eradicate forced labour and child labour, to provide safe and healthy workplaces, pay fair wages and ensure fair treatment. In particular we addressed the EU directive on mandatory human rights due diligence and responsible business conduct in an effort to put an end to the long list of violations. 

The situation is complex and there is no easy solution. Change will require engagement across the entire supply chain, including senior-level attention, and a cultural shift across entire apparel organizations. However, going from a voluntary to a mandatory framework will lead to greater accountability.

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