The European Fashion Alliance (EFA) held its first political fashion round table in Brussels.
At the beginning of June, the first political discussion of the European Fashion Alliance (EFA), of which the Slovak Fashion Council is also a member, took place in Brussels. EFA is an organization representing the European clothing segment, and its mission is to promote sustainability and innovation in the fashion industry. The event, attended by prominent EU officials, was opened by Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, and Dr. Christian Ehler, Member of the European Parliament.
"The Slovak Fashion Council is the only organization from Central Europe that sat at the round table in Brussels. We have a unique, exceptional, and specific opportunity to represent the voice of Slovakia as well as other smaller markets in Europe that share similar specificities, needs, and characteristics," said Zuzana Bobiková, CEO of the Slovak Fashion Council, expressing her enthusiasm from the current events.
In his speech, Breton stressed the importance of the fashion industry as part of complex supply chains and the crucial role of sustainability of this segment in the current challenging transition period. He mentioned several EU initiatives. The first is the Eco-Design Regulation to promote sustainability and circularity. Another is digital labeling through a digital product passport. The third is the revision of the Waste Framework Directive with a focus on reducing textile waste. The EFA, as a pan-European alliance, is committed to translating these ambitions into specific actions and commitments.
Creativity and innovation were the key topics of the discussion. Carlo Capasa, President of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, which also organizes Milan Fashion Week, and a member of the EFA Board of Directors, stressed the importance of the creative and cultural industries for the European fashion sector. Pascal Morand, Executive President of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode and a member of the EFA Board of Directors, mentioned the importance of the durability of fashion products and the need to stop overproduction. The EFA is committed to promoting creativity, durability, and respect for social sustainability in the fashion industry.
The European Fashion Alliance acknowledges and supports the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation and calls for the consideration of the unique specificities of creativity-driven fashion products in the implementation of feasible, yet ambitious, eco-design requirements. In that respect, EFA members have notably addressed the question of durability of fashion products, a key aspect in terms of sustainability which must be considered in a more holisitic and of course measurable way, with both its intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics, and should not be limited only to functional robustness. Pascal Morand, Board Member of the European Fashion Alliance, and Executive President of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode additionally states that "EFA supports the ban of destruction of unsold goods, but this requires a clear definition that these goods are fit for consumption and sale. Besides, upcycling and recycling in general cannot be considered as mere destruction as they also encompass virtuous practices. These are very much part of the circular economy mentality and business models displayed by innovative and creative designers".
Z. Bobiková had the opportunity to emphasize the importance of regular and clear communication about the coming changes both among the representatives of the professionals in the industry, and the dissemination of specific ideas to consumers, as they are the ones who have an impact on the change in the clothing industry. Furthermore, the sector transformation will not be possible unless we address education at all levels. It is new knowledge and the opportunity for practical use that will help to find a new and sustainable way of creating, producing, and disposing of clothing and textiles in the EU. "The Slovak Fashion Council wants to be a source of this information and sees this as its important role, to be a kind of an interpreter in this process for our country," the CEO explains the approach.
The EFA highlights the importance of the Ecodesign Regulation for sustainable products and draws attention to the need to consider the specificities of creative fashion products when setting ambitious ecodesign requirements. Moreover, the Alliance supports providing accurate information to consumers and the digital labeling of products as envisaged in the digital product passport.
However, the EFA warns against excessive administrative and technological burdens for businesses, especially for the individual creators, micro and small SMEs, and stresses the need to consider the multidimensional supply chain in the textile sector and draws attention to the need for support measures that respect the specific challenges and needs of the industry.
The European Fashion Alliance also announced the first European survey "Status of European Fashion" at the round table. The survey serves as basis for an industry report that will be presented in Autumn 2023 at the next EFA-Conference, to which decision makers of the European fashion industry and EU policy maker will be invited. "With our European wide survey, which will go live on europeanfashionalliance.org as of June 15th, we will collect the current state of knowledge on upcoming European legislative proposals and directives plus the sustainability status of brands. Not only facts and figures, but also experiences of the fashion industry are of high importance to us as this will allow EFA to propose concrete and measurable calls for action." says Scott Lipinski, Chairman of the European Fashion Alliance, and CEO of the Fashion Council Germany.
As a member of the European Fashion Alliance (EFA), the Slovak Fashion Council will be actively involved in these initiatives and, together with other members of the Alliance, will work to promote sustainability, creativity, and innovation in the Slovak market. The EFA is a strong partner for EU policymakers, and together they can shape the future of the fashion sector in Slovakia and across Europe.
As of June 15, 2023, the survey is available here:
Text: Andrea Gregorová / Petra Konček