G7 Fashion Summit: A Push for Change

Updated: Sep 3, 2019

The G7 Group consists of leaders from around the world; Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, U.S, and the U.K. This year was hosted by Emmanual Macron, the President of France, in France from August 25th- 27th.

The purpose of these meetings is to discuss major global challenges and how to go about fixing them. The overarching issue that was discussed was inequality. They drilled down and focused on three main goals that need to change immediately:

1. Equal Opportunities no matter gender or origin

2. Global Warming - Keeping the global temperature from rising above 2 degrees Celcius

3. Biodiversity - Ensuring species are protected and keeping natural ecosystems protected and preserved.

It is known by now that the fashion industry plays a huge part in the environmental damage we are seeing today. A fashion pact was made as a result of the meeting. 30 companies signed up and pledged to minimize the impact on the climate, ocean, and environment. Fortunately, these companies are responsible for 30% of the Fashion Industry. While we all hope one day that number reaches above 50%, it's a great start.

Some of the companies that joined the pact are; Burberry, Gap, Nike, PVH (Calvin Klein & Tommy Hilfiger), Adidas, Prada, Hermes, Chanel, H&M, Capri (Michale Kors, Jimmy Choo, Versace), and Tapestry (Coach & Kate Spade). One of the largest to join is Kering; Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Boucheron, Brioni, and Pomellato all fall under Kering's umbrella.

While it is great that all these companies promised to come together to make a change, I find it unfortunate that there is no accountability. Nothing is keeping them from backing out if they want to. There are also no consequences if they do not meet goals. It becomes difficult for brands to make the decision of being sustainable AND meeting consumers high demands of wanting more and more at a low price. While there has been a shift in consumer's wanting more sustainable options - I'm not entirely sure they are ready to pay for it.

We may need more than just a promise to truly make a difference in what is happening right now as a result of the fashion industry and high demands from consumers.

A few facts I came across while reading about the G7 Summit and Fashion Pact that I found to be alarming and wanted to share.

- The washing, solvents, and dyes used during the manufacturing process are responsible for 20% of the industrial water pollution (French Ministry of Ecology)

- The Fashion Industry is also responsible for 20-35% of the microplastics that flow into the ocean every day. (French Ministry of Ecology)

- The Fashion Industry is projected to rake in 1.66 Trillion next year. (Business of Fashion)

The problem is that most consumer can't see the true impact the fashion industry is having on the planet because most of the effects are happening in other third world countries. Most often these countries don't have the resources to manage their waste or pollution. This effects not only the environment but the people working inside these factories to make our clothing.

Not only do we need to educate consumers more on the impact of the fashion industry on the environment, but these big fashion brands also need to take responsibility of their suppliers and make sure they are implementing sustainable initiatives wherever they can. Here are a few examples:

- Finding ways to reduce carbon emissions

- Invest in renewable energy resources

- Finding alternatives to chemicals and dyes

- Control water usage and pollution

- Control plastic packaging/ finding alternatives

- Ensuring workers have proper protection and working conditions

- Ensuring workers are getting paid at least minimum wage, have access to clean water, food, and basic needs

- Finding ways to utilize waste and recycle into new product

The pact will report back annually on the progress that's been made. Francois Henri Pinault, Kering's Chief, will present an action plan to the G7 group later this month. I'm interested to see what these brands come up with and truly push towards making a difference for the better. While these big names may only account for 30% of the industry, they have the power to reach a lot more consumers and can persuade a lot of people to get involved and make smarter choices.