Diane von Furstenberg and Kenneth Cole
As of Thursday, April 30, 2020
Launched April 20–21, during the first days of Fashion Revolution Week, Fashinnovation’s Worldwide Talks 2020 was held in a virtual forum covering themes including sustainability, social impact, entrepreneurship, business and, of course, innovation. The impressive roster of more than 80 speakers during the Zoom-hosted event included fashion-business royalty such as Nadja Swarovski, Mara Hoffman, Kenneth Cole and Diane von Furstenberg.
“It’s something that was so needed. Many people had questions and doubts, but the fashion-industry supply chain and focusing on the sustainability aspects can have a chance in all of this,” Fashinnovation co-founder Jordana Guimarães said. “It was diverse as far as the types of people we had speak. That has been the key to our success over the last two years. We were able to get the whole world to participate without making people travel.”
During the event, speakers noted how this time of isolation spent at home could be used as a time of examination for a fresh business approach. Reminding attendees that the most challenging life experiences are often viewed in hindsight as those that also afford opportunity, von Furstenberg spoke during a session called “Creating a Legacy via Design, Business & Empowerment.”
“You can’t go with the old playbook. Start fresh. When you build a community, you build power. When you lose the community, you lose the power,” she said. “You have to own it—this is my reality and how am I going to deal with that? Because of this reality, you may change your life. You may switch things or take an opportunity you would have never taken.”
Through a discussion titled “Fashion Is ‘Here … for Good,” Cole echoed these sentiments. He advised against seeking solutions through “belt tightening,” saying answers can’t be found simply by shifting the financial practices of a business. For Cole, the shift in consumer mindset will lead to more-mindful decision making in business, which he hopes will yield greater environmental consciousness and empathy.
“We are going to be a different population when we get through this. We’re going to be different in the way we think about our lives, the way we consume, the way we transact,” he said. “We’ll come through it. We’ll talk. We have a reset. We have a chance to redefine and reposition ourselves, which our industry so badly needed. This could turn out to be a blessing if we approach it the right way.”
A discussion on “Sustainable Entrepreneurship in Fashion”led actor and BaYou with Love founder Nikki Reed to challenge corporate executives to use this time in isolation to think deeply about sustainable changes. Her hope was that by thinking about small changes, these large companies could eventually make a big, positive difference.
“What I hear from a lot of big companies when I reach out to open up talks about sustainability is, ‘You don’t understand, it’s like removing one piece of the Jenga puzzle—we can’t rebuild the entire company from scratch.’ Incremental change deserves applause,” she said. “You can make small changes within your company, no matter how big that company is, without having to level everything from the ground up.”