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COPENHAGEN – Is it ever possible to produce a T-shirt for just ten dollars while adhering to strict environmental and social standards? No, according to Paul van Zyl, the co-founder and CEO of UK luxury brand, Maiyet. “I’m not convinced you can ethically produce T-shirts for ten dollars,” he told delegates on day one of this year’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

In a debate on the future of transparency, van Zyl made the telling point that cheap fashion impacts the whole apparel industry eco-system, including consumer expectations about price – making it very difficult for responsible brands who charge more for stringently produced goods to gain market traction.

He believes the industry as a whole needs to to respond to this issue. “There has to be a sense that we are going to stop producing in this way and price point,” he said, drawing an interesting analogy with the lightbulb industry where there was a time when light bulbs – like much of today’s fashion items – had planned obsolescence built in. “But there was a point where that became morally responsible,” he told delegates.

Transparency was a key theme of day one, and here we round up a selection of great quotes on this pertinent industry issue.

You have to know your supply chain and you have to know where the impacts are to reduce them. If you only focus on your own operation you are missing the point. 90 per cent of impacts are in supply chain.
Geraldine Vallejo, sustainability programme director, Kering

Transparency as to come from the top because the reality it requires resources.”
Amanda Nusz, vice president, product quality and responsible sourcing, Target Corporation

The fact there were brands in the aftermath of Rana Plaza that didn’t know whether they were producing there was a ‘never again’ moment.”
Orsola de Castro, founder and creative director, Fashion Revolution

The Biggest barrier to transparency is cost. Somebody has to pay for it, whether that be consumers or brands.”
Mostafiz Uddin, managing director, Denim Expert, founder and CEO, Bangladesh Apparel Exchange

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