Written by Cortney Connolly
On a brisk February morning, I entered the Bohemian Hall to a large well-dressed crowd that stood in attendance for the fourth edition of Fashinnovation. Excitement filled the room as small chatter buzzed in the back of the venue. Before the conference began, I had a chance to look at the neatly placed Boxed Water bottles and varieties of tables set up to promote new businesses which uphold a promise to produce ethical and sustainable products. These companies and organizations set the theme for the conference: initiative for a better tomorrow. The event’s motto, “Fashion is to love” encompassed every aspect of the event, from the hosts to the panels, stands, and audience.
By 9:45 the chic participants sat down and were greeted by charismatic host, Ricky Mendez, where his energy electrified and informed the crowd about the pending topics and panels. Then, Simon Collins, founder of WeDesign.org graced the mainstage to present a speech about cleaner product consumption practices.
Eventually, the first panel began, featuring Arielle Charnas, founder of up and coming clothing brand, Something Navy, and Matt Scanlan CEO of Naadam, Something Navy, and Thakoon. The focal point of the discussion was how to build a brand with direct discussion with the consumer. Charnas started as a fashion blogger and as her fan base grew, she began collaborations with Nordstrom that carried sold out collections. With a staggering 1.3 million Instagram followers, she now credits her success to the direct feedback she received from supporters. As an entrepreneur, Charnas shows the importance of creating a transparent relationship with the consumer and in doing so, both consumer and company can find success. Not only does this mentality help with satisfaction on both ends of production, but it gives the brand a chance to educate the consumer and increase transparency with respect to sustainability and ethics.
Fashinnovation represents the connection between “entrepreneurship, innovation and technology within the fashion industry.” The panel “FASHION is Sustainability and Creating Impact” adhered initiative through the feature of Blue Bite, a new software that provides an accessible method of product education for consumers. CEO and Co-founder Mikhail Damiani, introduced the product as “taking everyday items to be played within digital areas for consumers.” Damiani mentioned that this product would be the future of shopping, in which the consumer with the scan of a QR code or NFC could easily find information on the history and labor practices of the product. This technology aids in inspiring more sustainable and educated choices. In addition, Blue Bite also works for authentication, experiences, and tracking the life of merchandise from purchase to reselling and eventually retirement.
The panel titled ‘Fashion is Sustainability in Creativity an Impact’ featured Thania Peck founder of fashion blog Catcher in the Style, Kimberly Berry Haisch CEO of KBH Jewels, Amanda Gomes co-founder of Satya Beachwear, and Lucie Brigham chief of office for partnerships for the United Nations. Sustainability and ethical practices take commitment, noted Peck, as she referenced each organization’s devotion to education and innovation for a cleaner method of output.
The jewelry industry does not require regulation on sourcing and creating pieces. However, KBH Jewelry, prioritizes raising the standards in jewelry production by sourcing their products through reclaimed gold and cultivated diamonds. Haisch mentioned her drive to create a circular method of production, “gold mining creates an output of mercury, why mine when gold can be recycled without degradation?” KBH Jewels displays what it means to be a changemaker. Haisch states that first and foremost quality holds priority in the creation of jewelry. However, sustainability and ethics happen to be part of that initiative.
As the panel progressed, moderator Lucie Brigham questioned how the consumer should take action. Peck responded that consumers must hold their brands responsible, “as consumers we must educate ourselves.” As a one of the most important parts of any market, the consumer has the power to change production practices. The future looks bright as Peck mentioned major retailers will be dropping brands for lack of sustainability. Every choice by the consumer and company contributes to change. The segment dictated the importance to educate both the market and producer to acknowledge how each purchase impacts the world.
From panel to panel, the theme of compassion and action inspired the community to lead the fashion industry towards a brighter tomorrow. “Fashion is to Love” means caring for one’s self in growth and education, being conscious of how our actions influence the world around us, and finding communication between brand and consumer to build a relationship that will reap fantastic outcomes. Fashinnovation reminds us all that we are in this journey together and with a community, one can accomplish incredible advances.
Cortney Connolly is passionate about learning, experiencing, and creating stories through writing to internally enlighten herself and potentially others. Her interests lie in discovering new methods of art and ultimately in the translation of new ideas and how they impact the world.