How Fashion is Ripe for Disruption


The 4th World Ethical Apparel Roundtable (WEAR) is about to take place November 13-14 in Toronto, uniting the global fashion industry in an effort to foster learning and collaboration toward more sustainable and regenerative solutions. This is an industry ripe for disruption!

This is an exciting time, with innovations and disruptions happening in all industries – and now finally, fashion can be included in this list. A radical change in the way we do business is critical to the success of our future. This year at WEAR, our content dives into the future of fashion, as we explore four important themes:

 WATER: An estimated 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles, many of which will be released into freshwater sources. This excessive pollution of our global lakes and rivers, has put pressure on brands to eliminate hazardous chemicals from their supply chain. Water is a precious (and threatened) resource. It takes 1800 gallons of water to make one pair of denim jeans, and the textile industry pollutes 1,560,000 Olympic sized swimming pools of fresh water annually. Freshwater makes up only 2.5% of the earth’s water.
WASTE: 60% of apparel will end up in landfill or be incinerated within the first year of life (McKinsey & Business of Fashion, 2017). Textile waste is driving the fashion industry to get ahead of the impending policy and regulations such as landfill bans and extended producer responsibility. The circular economy is slowly becoming the new way of doing business in fashion, as brands and retailers move from a linear model of take, make, waste – to one that is closed-loop. From the over-production of clothing and scraps on the cutting room floor, to damaged or returned goods and unsellable items – this industry creates a harmful level of waste that is contributing to greenhouse gases, and threatens our global commitments to carbon reductions.
LABOUR: There are 40 million garment workers in the world today, who are some of the lowest paid workers in the world. Roughly 85% of all garment workers are women. Despite the move toward improved conditions in supply chains in recent years, the exploitation of garment workers is still a pressing issue.
TEXTILES: 25% of the worlds insecticides are used to grow conventional cotton. How we source our textiles – from growing cotton, to the extraction of crude oil to make polyester – has a massive impact on our planet. The fashion industry must innovate and develop new materials that are not so resource dependent. We frankly don’t have a choice.

The future of fashion requires a major industry disruption!

It is at WEAR that we can best learn how to make improvements in the fashion industry. Global leaders share best practices in a collaborative environment that offers all delegates the opportunity to share ideas and offer solutions. From social enterprises and NGOs working hard to advance compliance and mitigate risk in supply chains, to innovators in the tech space who are developing water friendly and non-toxic solutions to making our clothes – WEAR is positioned to help this industry succeed!

And one such leader is TESTEX – a globally operating, independent Swiss testing and certification organization with a focus on textile and leather testing. Founded in 1846, the TESTEX Group now operates in more than 20 branches worldwide with its head office in Zurich. TESTEX is a member institute of the OEKO-TEX Association.

This year marks the 25th anniversary for OEKO-TEX, and together with TESTEX, the key findings from their recent global study on “The Key to Confidence: Consumers and Textile Sustainability” will be presented at WEAR. This is highly anticipated data that many brands and retailers are anxious to get their hands on, and it will kick off the 2 days of deep learning and networking.

We are excited about our partnership with TESTEX, as Fashion Takes Action works hard to develop global relationships with organizations that can help fashion brands and retailers become more socially and environmentally responsible. WEAR provides the ideal platform for companies like TESTEX, to share their important work, in an effort to motivate and inspire better business.

TESTEX offers many solutions as it certifies according to strict international regulations and standards:

·     STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX is an independent test and certification system for textile raw, intermediate and end products at all stages of processing. Includes: yarns, fabrics, treated fabrics, manufactured articles (clothing of all kinds, domestic and household textiles, bedding, towels, soft toys and many more).

·     STeP by OEKO-TEX is an independent certification system for companies of the textile chain (brands, manufacturers and retailers) who want to analyze, certify and optimize their production facilities with regard to sustainable and socially responsible manufacturing conditions.

·     MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX is an independent textile label for highlighting consumer products and semi- finished products at all levels of the textile chain that are made with materials tested for harmful substances and that have been manufactured by using environmentally friendly processes and under safe and socially responsible working conditions.

·     ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX is a comprehensive verification and certification system for textile chemicals, colorants and auxiliaries. The textile chemical verification system is fully integrated and harmonized with the two OEKO-TEX® certification systems for sustainable textile production (STeP by OEKO-TEX®) and product safety (STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®).

·     LEATHER STANDARD by OEKO-TEX is a worldwide consistent, independent testing and certification system for leather and leather articles of all levels of production. Examples of articles that can be certified are: semi-finished leather products (e.g. Wet-blue, Wet-white, Crust etc.), finished leather, leather fiber material, ready made articles (garments of all types, accessories, leather gloves, leather handbags, leather covers and much more).

In addition, TESTEX is responsible for sending Peggy Sue Collection – the winner of our recent Design Forward – Canada’s Sustainable Fashion Award – to Shanghai China to showcase at the Intertextile Fairand tour their MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX certified facilities. Peggy Sue will present her experience at WEAR with a compelling slideshow and narrative, from the perspective of a start-up fashion designer in Canada.

WEAR is an exciting two-day event that aims to pivot an industry toward innovation and success, with a triple bottom line approach. Together, this industry is best positioned to have a tremendous impact on climate change. By shifting toward more innovative, sustainable and regenerative business models, we have the power to positively impact the environment and millions of people worldwide.