A year on from the first successful circular fashion event in Australia, the Australian Circular Fashion Conference (ACFC), we speak to founder Camille Reed on what is expected at this years event held on March 21-22.
A textile designer and responsible fashion advisor, Reed has extensive experience in the Australian fashion industry and a strong focus on textile recycling and sustainability. Fuelled on by her passion for positive change, she brings together some of the industry’s experts and pioneering changemakers for this forward-thinking industry conference to help fashion entrepreneurs, brands, retailers and students design for circularity in fashion.
EWP: What’s exciting you most about the 2019 conference and how does it differ from 2018?
Camille Reed: Wow, where do I start! The initial excitement comes from creating a very special and very important event for the industry I fell in love with over decade ago when I first began my first role in fashion as a textile designer. This year’s event is exciting for many reasons, the conversations continue to be inspiring, the network continues to grow, participation and involvement from fellow professionals and experts is extremely positive. Guaranteed it will be another massive, fun-filled day with exceptional people, 2018 proved we can do this.
We’re hosting a number of phenomenal and passionate people in an exclusive Australian first, and we’re making history by bringing together the creme de la creme of sustainability for fashion and textiles; Megan Meiklejohn from Eileen Fisher in New York, Elin Larsson from Filippa. K, Tim Loftus in Sustainable Marketing (ex-Kathmandu), Giusy Bettoni from C.L.A.S.S. in Milan, Christian Dreszig over at Bluesign, Dana Davis + Celine DeCarlo from Mara Hoffman. The focus and shift from 2018’s Sydney event to Melbourne’s is this:
1) Melbourne is home to a majority of the large fashion companies and their warehouses,
2) We have international guests sharing their first-hand experience in creating sustainable businesses, and
3) The ACFC is a call-to-action for immediate change and we’re giving industry the information and insight to take action today.
No doubt we’ll have people in the room with butterflies because they have the chance to meet their fashion icons and gather insights from these incredible guests, an experience which they don’t get anywhere else in Australia.
EWP: What has been the response from event attendees for this year’s conference?
CR: The response for 2019 is extremely positive. We’ve seen a significant increase in relationship building with extended parties, those integral to offering the greatest amount of impact long term for the apparel and textile industry (i.e State Government) and a very important international network of partners who’ve been known for their critical research and strategic planning. Several exciting members to reference, who’ve been made aware of the progress in Australia and ones we are building a long-term relationship with are: the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, WRAP, Circle Economy, Eco Age, to name a few.
Fortunately, we also have a number of long-term partners from the first event; it’s been an extremely supportive time and one that will continue to evolve immensely over the next 12-15 months.
Special mention to the exciting new industry association we’re officially launching at the conference, the Australasian Circular Textile Association (ACTA). The latest national lead body for Australasia to represent and support all sectors of the apparel and textile industry in their circular journey towards a strong, prosperous and viable future.
EWP: What change have you seen in the industry as a result of the conversations held at last year-s conference?
CR: The past 12-15 months, change has been mind blowing, the level of understanding and acknowledgement in particular from fashion brands and retailers to embrace the new measures has been met with great enthusiasm. Initially, a year ago the industry was intrigued and interested to understand the best approach, now they’re well on their way to identifying the urgency behind positive impact. Not only retailers and brands; the depth of awareness and realisation has been met with a number of stakeholders looking to step up and offer collaborative opportunities for fashion, i.e. The Salvos, APCO, EPA NSW, plus several international organisations supporting closed loop textiles.
A much stronger community has become strongly engaged following the first conference, not to mention the amount of press covering this topic at the minute globally. The sense of self awareness to improve upon daily choices, smarter management within our professional roles, choosing quality over quantity has really blossomed on many different levels.
EWP: Tell us more about the circular strategy workshops happening on Day 2?
CR: Workshops for the fashion industry is a new-ish concept, we haven’t seen this level of business education in fashion before. We’re adopting this approach from the “corporate” business world to the fashion world, because we strongly believe in knowledge exchange and skill-building for our industry professionals, to offer them the greatest opportunity for success long-term as they redefine business propositions and pivot their models. The workshops are run by our exceptional International guests and facilitated by local experts, Jacinta Fitzgerald and Clara Vuletich. Each workshop emulates the key points raised by the speakers during their keynote presentation at the one-day conference. These professionals look to impart a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share with Australasian colleagues as they’ve been working and practising within their roles of sustainability for a number of years.
The workshops are an extension of the round table attribute from the 2018 ACFC. It was a hugely successful section of the event where attendees had the opportunity to engage with experts from different specialties from to ask a range of questions which related to their business. A number of collaborative relationships formed due to the nature of the personal engagement and freedom for discussion. The Workshop Day at this year’s event will emulate our round table discussions by hosting only 50 attendees for each workshop as we deep dive into five key pillars of circular design and business.
Attendees also have the opportunity to get up and close with our International experts during the workshops as we focus on each important aspect of sustainable business development in Best Practice and Procurement, CSR Values and Marketing, Design and Supply Chain, CSR and Marketing Values, Stewardship. All 50 attendees will leave with a powerful bank of knowledge to implement into their businesses.
EWP: Tell us about the Circular Fashion Strategies University Hackathon; how did the idea arise, who can be involved and how?
CR: The Hackathon is a unique concept and one that holds a lot of importance to the ACFC Agenda. There’s a powerful opportunity to strengthen the bond between industry and academia. Touching back on an experience which I first had in later 2017 with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), a group of students were tasked with a project which included industry members to partake in a theoretical session between the extreme high and lows of fashion environmental impact. Following this UTS became a part of the conference, curating a tear down workshop, identifying barriers within businesses which could be addressed now. To build upon this component of the conference the next step is a separate challenge which sits just outside the one-day conference but is closely linked. Over the years we’ll develop the challenge into an annual event alongside the conference as we look to fast track every opportunity for smart progress.
This Hackathon is a design-thinking challenge for universities in Australia and New Zealand — it’s an opportunity for the brightest students to bring alternative and innovative perspectives to complex industry barriers around circular business and design. Each university will create a team, to be partnered with an industry brand. We ask of our industry partners to provide a real-world barrier they are facing when approaching sustainability and material reuse. Together, industry and academia will work together to create solutions based on multi-disciplinary collaborations, sustainable practices, business strategy and innovations in the corporate sector.
We’re looking for industry partners for this event who can bring to the table a material reuse challenge — i.e. Salvos volume of fashion waste, a supermarket company with old uniforms because of logo rebrand — and can provide a representative or mentor to attend a limited portion of the Hackathon on March 19 and 20 in Melbourne.
It’s going to be a really exciting addition to the Australian Circular Fashion Conference that will position participants to help set the stage for a cooperative development for sustainable solutions in the fashion and textile sector.
Eco Warrior Princess is thrilled to be a media partner of this year’s conference. Purchase your tickets with our exclusive code ACFC_EWP2019 and receive 15% discount off ticket purchases (we will make some much needed revenue to help with the rising costs of operating this growing media brand). To purchase your tickets, click here.
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Images courtesy of ACFC.