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COPENHAGEN – Global Fashion Agenda this week used the launch of its ‘CEO Agenda’ to once attack natural fibres industries. Having previously (incorrectly) told us via its fast fashion sector-sponsored ‘Pulse’ report that replacing 30 per cent of cotton use with polyester by 2030 would save around 23 billion m3 of water annually, this year it opened its sights on all natural fibres.

This year’s CEO Agenda says: “Natural animal fibres, such as wool, leather, down and silk offer unique qualities, but their production can entail force feeding, live plucking and unethical slaughtering practices, while the rising number of vegetarian and vegan consumers strengthens the business case to protect animal welfare.”

Natural fibres industries are already under attack like never before due to their unfair and unrepresentative rating on the Higg MSI of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

Bizarrly, the SAC continues to tell us polyester is the world’s most sustainable fibre.

The CEO Agenda appears to agree: “So, what about synthetic alternatives?” this year’s publication asks. “Some man-made fibres look promising: fibres such as polyester typically require less water than natural fibres, are often highly durable and can be recycled more easily.”

Recycled more easily than what? This is a question the Global Fashion Agenda fails to address, although given that most recycled polyester on the market currently comes from used bottles – from which it gets one extra life – the more accurate term in this context is ‘downcycling’.

Similarly, the CEO Agenda fails to mention, among other things, the amazing strides which have been made in wool production in recent years, including the ending of the practice of Mulesing outside of Australia (and even there, promising new methods are being trialled to tackle flystrike). It’s conference this weeks also did not mention that the silk industry has now made an official complaint which is being reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission over how silk is incorrectly scored by the Higg MSI of the SAC.

Meanwhile, sectors such as down, wool and alpaca now have their own standards – via Textile Exchange – which cover issues relating to animal welfare. Are these costly accreditations in vain?

Much more on GFA’s annual CEO Agenda, including a full review of this year’s conference, in our next printed magazine.


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