JEDDAH: Sustainability, diversity and inclusion, entrepreneurship, and innovative solutions in the global fashion industry were the highlights of the second Fashion Futures initiative by the Saudi Ministry of Culture.
The Culture Ministry’s Commission of Fashion hosted a digital event on Thursday through a hybrid model that gathered leaders from the global and regional fashion world at studios in Riyadh and New York, and virtually from around the world to discuss issues related to the future of the industry and ways to build the right ecosystem for it.
“Our mission is to enable the development of (the) thriving Saudi fashion industry, (make it) sustainable and inclusive, maximizing local talent, experiences and competencies. This will be realized through initiatives and our flagship event, Fashion Futures is part of this process,” Princess Noura bint Faisal Al-Saud, sector development director at the Fashion Commission, said in her opening speech.
The program “Fashion Futures: Moving Towards Sustainability, Diversity & Innovation” is the result of a collaboration with US-based Fashinnovation, a multimedia platform focused on sustainability innovation and entrepreneurship led by Jordana Guimaraes.
Chantal Line Carpentier, chief of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said that the creative industries, such as the fashion business, were worth more than its $2.5 trillion globally. The market in fashion products could lead to significant employment gains in developing countries and for small and medium enterprises, and for many women and young entrepreneurs.
However large environmental footprints were created as the industry was responsible for 8 to 10 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and 20 percent of industrial wastewater pollution worldwide.
Carpentier discussed the potential of fashion for sustainable development and economic growth. She said the declaration of 2021 as the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development was an opportunity to raise awareness and promote cooperation and networking. It would encourage the sharing of best practices and experiences to enhance human resource capacity and promote an enabling environment to tackle challenges and take advantage of creative economy opportunities.
The conference’s content was divided into four parts; entrepreneurship and experimentation, diversity in culture and style, investment in new business models and innovation solutions, and sustainable development goals. Each part of the event had four different sessions, including keynote speeches and panel discussions.
Notable international speakers included Susan Rockefeller, the president and trustee of Oceana, a nonprofit marine conservation foundation; Rebecca Minkoff, a fashion designer and author of “Fearless: The New Rules for Unlocking Creativity, Courage, and Success;” Oskar Metsavaht, an environmental activist and founder of fashion brand Osklen; Helen Aboah, the CEO of luxury lifestyle brand Urban Zen; and Abrima Erwiah, co-founder of Studio One Eighty-Nine, a social enterprise that promotes and curates African fashion.