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Colombo Fashion Week in eco-friendly drive, riding Sri Lanka’s status as production hub

ECONOMYNEXT – Colombo Fashion Week is leading a charge on becoming eco-friendly, helped by Sri Lanka’s status as a manufacturing hub an industry official said, with activists around the world pushing for ‘responsible’ customer behavior.

In the global apparel industry, design is taking place mostly in the West and production has moved to other countries.

“Sri Lanka is one of the very few countries where the fashion industry and the apparel co-exists…,” Ajay Vir Singh, Founder of HSBC Colombo Fashion Week.

“Because both the industries co-exist together, we could pick up the whole thing and create a solution,”

“The issue that’s happening around the world is the parallel manufacturing and the fashion design industry is very divided.”

Countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh could also follow similar strategies.

HSBC Colombo Fashion Week (CFW) has introduced “Responsibility in Fashion”, an initiative based on three key ideas to prevent garments from ending up in landfills.

The three key initiatives are Garment Enhancement Guarantee, Garment Disposal Plan and Return-After-Use-For-Purpose.

“The fashion industry now features among the top five most polluting industries in the world,” explained Sing.

“It was always in our hearts to create a responsible and actionable program that could be very relevant not only in Sri Lanka but also for key fashion countries in the world to adopt.

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“We have been working on it for the last few year years and I am happy that we’re the first in the world to implement such a program.

CFW has also introduced a Responsible Meter, a tool to evaluate garments presented at CFW based on environmental, societal and organizational wellbeing.

CFW said it has received nearly fifty applications for this year’s Emerging Designer Program, and has chosen 13 designers who would incorporate the Responsible Meter and the three actionable impacts into their collections under the guidance of CFW.

“What’s happening in the western world is activists are saying not to buy this and that, but they have no idea how it is negatively impacting supply chains,” Singh said.

“They do not understand that it is their customers who make the order to manufacture.

Activists around the world have been urging people to boycott fashion and fashion shows due to its waste and carbon use.

Extinction Rebellion, a global environmental movement that has been pushing for climate change and sustainable initiatives in the fashion industry, protested around the New York Fashion Week venue last month.

It does not want to cancel fashion shows altogether, but they want the industry to join the climate change movement.

The protestors urged brands to stop using virgin polyester, become carbon neutral by 2025, adopt a circular supply chain, and stop extracting nonrenewable resources from the Earth.

Many brands are also trying to become ‘carbon neutral.’

Gucci will have a fully carbon-neutral supply chain and New York designers including Gabriela Hearst, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Collina Strada, and CDLM made sustainability a big part of their Spring 2020 collections, Vogue magazine has reported.

According to the Measuring Fashion Report, published by Environmental consulting group Quantis, the global apparel and footwear industries contribute for 8 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, almost as much as the total carbon impact of the EU.

The apparel industry alone accounts for 6.7 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, with more than 50 percent coming from 3 phases: fiber production (15 percent), yarn preparation (28 percent), and the highest impact phase – dyeing & finishing (36 percent). (Colombo/Mar09/2020)

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