Milan: Textile Exchange Conference: United by Action: Accellerating Sustainability in Textiles and Fashion

Textile Exchange held it’s annual conference this year in MIlan, Italy’s Fashion and Textiles Capital. As a Board member, I joined over 800 industry members for three full days loaded with wonderful speakers and leaders sharing the newest thinking for sustainability practices for the textile and fashion industries. The MiCo center located in the downtown sector of Milan welcomed the guests into exhibition spaces, plenary meeting rooms and breakout rooms that easily accommodated the conversations that were had.

Topics that were front and center revolved around the United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals and their pending deadline for implementation in 2020. Already many were working towards best practice approaches for raising the bar in the battle for offsetting the global environmental impacts that are looming.

Discussions were had regarding reuse, recycling and renewal as well as standards for practice integrity and certification. Governmental representatives spoke about navigating the intricacies of recycling and waste materials management and distribution and the impacts of renew and circular economies on the economies of global as well as local businesses. The potential for new business models led conversations at round tables, lunch tables and from the stages.

The conversations were lively and forward facing. The mood was upbeat for the first time in a very long time. There was an overall feeling of potential opportunity and it over powered the doom that sustainability topics dragged along in years past.

Acknowledging that the supply chain teams, their sourcing partners and fibers/materials people were well represented at the conference, the call was put forth for companies to bring their design teams to the table. For team education as well as for innovation in conversation, thinking and action.

I look forward to the conference next year - in Vancouver, B.C. Canada!