By Cortney Connolly
This season’s Fashininnovation WorldWide Talks conference entailed a rather different experience to the previous in person panels. Spanning over June 5th and 8th from 8am-7pm (EST) the event carried an incredible lineup of 32 panels, 90 speakers from 120+ countries, and even a virtual fashion show. Each segment entailed varying topics such as sustainability, inclusion, woman leadership, and overall the positive progression of the fashion industry.
With diverse speakers like Rebecca Minkcoff, Lucie Brigham (Chief of Office, United Nations Office for Partnerships), Larry Namer (Co-Founder of E!), Coco Rocha, Susan Rockfeller, and many more integral people in fashion, the convention was able to bring up topics that focused on reopening what seemed to be a new world in the wake of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the discussion titled “Fashion is Fearless” entailed Jessica Andrews, deputy fashion editor at Bustle and designer Rebecca Minkoff. The talk featured how Minkoff has navigated keeping her brand afloat from the troubling times of COVID-19 and how she is planning on using her brand to make change. In response, Minkoff stated “Do what is right and stand on your own… the Black community makes up 15% of the American population, therefore 15% of the shelf space should be catered and focused on them”. She dictated to how this time has taught her to be in direct relationship with the consumer which ultimately means representing all demographics.
The discussion touched on how the world of fashion might look as society has been forced to learn that as individuals we can live more frugally can be seen through the emphasized sustainable efforts an increasing number of fashion houses and companies have been taking. Minkoff and Andrews emphasized this cultural shift in which obtaining higher quality longer lasting investment pieces is more practical and socially aware in comparison to the high quantity low quality consumerist culture.
In another discussion “Culture via Design” hosted by Vogue Mexico Editor-in-Chief Karla Martínez de Salas, and entrepreneurs Laerke Skyum: Co-Founder & Creative Director, AYNI, Marcia Kemp: Founder, Nannacay Creativehands, Yolanda Pérez: Co-Founder & Creative Director, Yolancris, and Farai Simoyi: Founder, The Narativ. All women represented what it meant to be a company that represents pure craftsmanship in which their business model is highlighting selling pieces that have been produced by master workers in countries such as Peru, Spain, many countries in the African continent. When on the subject of supporting local communities whilst maintaining an ethical and sustainable relationship Marcia Kemp her thought process in the foundations of her brand, “when starting the brand [I] interviewed the workers to understand the market and their work. Giving jobs to artisans benefits one hundred percent of struggling families as their children no longer have to work, and can afford to go to school and possibly pursue higher education”. Her point emphasized the basis of this panel in which shopping responsibly implies a chain reaction that helps all areas of the production line. They spoke on the importance of becoming an educated and responsible consumer which ultimately can build a bigger and brighter tomorrow.
The panel also included discussions of cultural appropriation in the fashion industry. Farai Simoyi spoke on the importance of giving credit where credit is due, “in an educational institution we are taught to source our ideas, that needs to happen whenever a brand desires to collaborate or find inspiration within working with artisans”. As a solution to this issue Simoyi prescribes that cultural appropriation wouldn’t exist if companies had a more diverse team to represent the cultures that supply inspiration. She implies that increased diversity in these fields and industries will create a safe space for awareness and most importantly cultural appreciation.
Through the wide variety of topics the event highlighted that the advancement of the fashion industry is a moving target to which the commitment to change is never ending and always moving forward.