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Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood AW18 worn throughoutPhotography Hanna Moon, styling Agata Belcen

Fashion organisations unite with a COP26 call to arms

Think tanks and sustainability advocates petition world leaders to recognise the industry’s role in resolving the climate crisis

As COP26 finds its feet, an alliance has formed within the UK fashion industry, uniting think tanks, brands, and sustainability advocates in calling on world leaders to acknowledge the impactful role that fashion can play in reaching climate goals. Spearheaded by Tamara Cincik, CEO of Fashion Roundtable, the initiative brings together Fashion Revolution, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Common Objective, Eco Age, and The Sustainable Angle, penning an open letter to demand global governmental action. 

The letter highlights the need for collective action across five main areas: achieving net zero emissions by no later than 2050; waste elimination; readdressing supply chains; skills development to encourage children to make, repair, and reuse their clothes; and shifting business models away from profit and loss towards a well-being economy. Fashion Roundtable stresses that the resourcefulness and creativity to tackle climate change already exists within the industry but this needs to be bolstered by drastic policy change.

“Until the current licence to do harm is taken away, until legislation supports restorative practices, all of the ingenuity in the world will be outsized by a lack of will to change at world government level,” Daisy Williams, CEO of Founder and Director of Centre for Sustainable Fashion says. “A coalition exists in fashion, the signatories to this letter and more, we require specific action on the five points outlined at COP 26. The world is watching; we want to make history, not to be history.”

COP26 provides an opportunity for international figureheads to come together for the first time since the pandemic and devise solutions to the worsening climate crisis in the little time we have left. Any amendments to policy agenda must also consider the fashion industry, which, if it were a nation state, would rank as the 7th largest economy, as Cincik notes. 

Despite fashion’s contributions to harmful environmental practices, it needs to play a prominent part in the solution. It’s only law-making, however, which is capable of putting a stop to the off-shoring of emissions, exploitation, and routine degradation of resources and workers. “The world’s precious resources are finite,” the Fashion Roundtable founder says. “We need to embed a resourceful and collectively responsible business model into how we shift from a linear to a circular economy. This call to action is a united voice and we hope that the world’s leaders take this moment to address the climate crisis, with the solutions and far reaching policies it requires from all of us.”

Read the open letter here and use this template here to urge your local MP to facilitate a meeting between Fashion Roundtable and George Eustice – the Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs – to discuss sustainable solutions to the climate crisis.