London's 180 Studios, nestled within the vibrant hub of creativity that Somerset House, LSE and 180 Strand now triangulate, bore witness to a convergence of industry changemakers this week. The occasion? The British Fashion Council’s (BFC) fourth annual Institute of Positive Fashion Forum (IPF Forum), an effort to gather knowledge sharing of the ever-changing innovations, goals and practical applications "sustainable fashion" has been developing UK-wide.

Experts from across the globe - from Levi's VP, Head of Global Design and Innovation Paul Dillinger (who was very candid about the megabrand's ability to move the needle...or not), as well as Baroness Lola Young who talked about how environmental and social justice were intertwined – were convened under one roof to delve into the imperative and mission of accelerating the transition to a circular fashion economy and achieving net-zero emissions in the UK by 2030. This year’s forum proved to be a symphony of visionary keynotes (including a sort of mad ramble from Brunello Cucinelli, master of the passionate plea for humane capitalism), immersive workshops, and thought-provoking panel discussions, all orchestrated to catalyse tangible change.

On the same day, alterations and repairs platform SOJO unveiled its new initiative, the Pledge to Repair, at the IPF Forum. With a call to action, SOJO urged the British fashion industry to embrace care & repair principles, in order to combat textile waste and usher in a new era of circularity. Founded by Josephine Philips back in 2021, SOJO stands against the current ‘make-use-waste’ culture. 

“Many of us have followed all the progress in the sustainable fashion space accelerated through EU legislation. While those advancements are motivating to see, I have definitely felt frustrated by the lack of movement in the UK.  Since the launch, at SOJO we have been focused on what we can do as a business to drive change, the Pledge is our effort to create a collective industry-wide movement, going beyond individual partnerships to build a collaborative coalition with the potential of influencing policy on a governmental level. It is through collective action and legislation that true change will happen at the speed it needs to,” says Josephine.

Founding brand signatories include SOJO's long-standing partner GANNI, offering free repair services to their UK customers since launching with SOJO in 2021, in addition to Nanushka, Ahluwalia, Damson Madder and more, already offering repairs to their customers via SOJO’s plug and play technology. The Pledge also welcomes leading luxury resale platform Vestiaire Collective, who offer repair services to their UK customers. 

The news was a perfect example of what Caroline Rush, the Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council, spoke about in her closing remarks, encapsulating the essence of the day's discourse. Emphasising the necessity of industry-wide collaboration to fast-track collective, positive change, Caroline underscored the pivotal shift towards regulation-driven climate action. Themes of circularity, sustainable manufacturing, and novel technologies reverberated throughout the day, illuminating a path towards a more responsible and resilient industry landscape.

Crucially, the forum articulated a clarion call to action for businesses, government entities, and citizens alike. For businesses, the imperative is clear: embrace change, prioritise sustainability, and align purpose with profit. Government bodies were urged to enact sensible legislation, foster industry cohesion, and provide vital support for SMEs navigating the transition. Individuals, too, were empowered to effect change through conscious consumerism, education, and community engagement. 

As the curtains drew on this year's IPF Forum, a palpable sense of optimism lingered – a testament to the collective determination to forge a future where fashion thrives in harmony with the planet and its people. While no one left with any illusions that we are anywhere close to fully workable solutions, perhaps the day gave its attendees a sense that there is hope that fashion will find redemption in circularity.

Find out more about the BFC's IPF Forum HERE...