In 2018 the British Fashion Council continues to focus on its Positive Fashion initiative, a platform designed to celebrate industry best practice and encourage future business decisions to create positive change.
Positive Fashion is led by 3 strategic pillars -
Ethics – Focuses on social, environmental and business governance to drive a more sustainable fashion future. Positive Fashion champions the long term sustainability of the fashion sector which contributes £32.3 Billion to the UK economy in GDP and supports 890,000 jobs. Through the power of collective influence, our Positive Fashion committee of global brands, designer businesses and industry stakeholders gather thought leadership and drive change through best practice.
EQUALITY & DIVERSITY
People – Represents the people, from the product makers to the staff, students and models who pioneer our brands. The BFC takes the lead in setting the standards for an industry that strives to represent equality and diversity on the global stage. Championing the importance of every person in the sector as a vital and valuable part of our industry entitled to be treated with respect and dignity.
CRAFTSMANSHIP & COMMUNITY
Community – Supports the community of talent, skills and craftsmanship that make up our unique industry. Our initiatives are designed to develop connections and understanding between designers and manufacturers taking a holistic approach to the long term viability of the sector. We celebrate the wealth of talent and capability that is unique to British designer businesses.
The British Fashion Council Positive Fashion logo celebrates the designers who are adhering to Positive Fashion principles within their businesses and in turn promoting and contributing to positive change within our industry. We encourage the whole fashion industry to promote the good news stories and come together with one voice.
Designers at London Fashion Week September 2018 who have been awarded the Positive Fashion logo have been awarded for their efforts within the below criteria -
SUSTAINABILITY – Ethics – Focuses on social, environmental and business governance to drive a more sustainable fashion future.
Protecting the Environment
Energy & Water Efficiency
Reducing your environmental impact involves thinking about the natural resources used in your production or in making the products you sell. It’s about managing those resources as efficiently as possible. Working this way can help limit your environmental impact, including on global warming – plus it can bring significant cost savings.
Around 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used in the fashion, textile and footwear industry.
Think about how chemicals are used in your processes or products. How are you managing the use of hazardous chemicals? Check the regularly updated ZDHC MRSL list on restricted substances for conformity guidance.
Pollution - of air, land and water – occurs at all stages of the supply chain. For example, 20% of global industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment. Are you measuring the emissions from your production processes or that are attributable to your products? What are you doing to reduce these?
Recycling & Waste
Recycling treats used or waste products so they can be reused not discarded. For textiles, this can result in a drop in quality or requires items to be reprocessed into something new (eg turning old clothes into new fibre).
Upcycling reuses the material or product without degrading the quality and composition of the material for its next use (eg turning bicycle tyres into jewellery).
Unlike a linear economy (make, use, dispose), a circular approach means products are designed with their eventual reuse in mind.
Environmentally Friendly Materials
Pesticides and insecticides used in growing crops, primarily cotton for the fashion industry, affect our natural environment and the farmers who grow them.
Are you using organically grown cotton or other fibres? Do you have a plan to increase your use of these? Are you a 100% organic brand or manufacturer?
Other Environmentally Friendly Materials (excl organic)
Aside from organically grown fibres, there is an increasing number of more environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional textile fibres and materials. These include recycled and alternative fibres (eg hemp, nettle), closed loop and/or more sustainably produced cotton (BCI, CmIA), innovative cellulosics from waste products and several more.
Animal derived materials such as leather, wool, silk, fur, down, bone and exotic skins have been used in fashion for centuries. However some materials require the death of the animal, others may be raised in poor conditions.
If you use animal-derived products what do you do to ensure good animal husbandry, including:
- freedom from hunger and thirst
- freedom from discomfort
- freedom from pain, injury or disease
- freedom to express normal behaviour
- freedom from fear and distress
Further reading on animals and fashion:
EQUALITY & DIVERSITY – People – Represents the people, from the product makers to the staff, students and models who pioneer our brands.
Decent Working Conditions
Formal and informal workers in your operations and in those of your suppliers have a right to work with dignity and enjoy a good livelihood. Ensuring this includes, but is not limited to, providing good working conditions as outlined in the ETI Base Code on wages, working hours, health and safety, and social protection.
Consider what steps you are taking to meet such standards.
Are you adhering to the British Fashion Council Best Practice Guide for Industry when employing Interns? http://www.britishfashioncouncil.com/Education/BFC-Colleges-Council/Internships
Further reading on decent working conditions:
Diverse Workforce Representation
London is the most diverse capital, talent and creativity is not bound by colour, race, nationality or gender so it is right that our catwalks, advertising and creative imagery should reflect the representation of our city. Does your business workforce meet the national UK average representation of 15%? Or is it closer to London’s population average of 40%?
Are you committed to being an Equal Opportunities Employer? https://www.eoc.org.uk/
Fair Trade is often understood differently. We suggest you use the FINE definition (Fairtrade certified goods – both Fairtrade Cotton and Fairtrade Textiles – and WFTO membership comply with the FINE definition) -
"Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fair trade organizations, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade".
Do you aim
- to work with marginalised producers and workers to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency,
- to empower producers and workers as stakeholders in their own organisations,
- actively to play a wider role to achieve greater equity in international trade?
Ethical Sourcing & Supply Chain Management
Whom you choose to buy from and how you trade with them is key to enabling decent working conditions and to minimising any negative impact on local people and the environment.
For example, do you follow social and environmental criteria when sourcing suppliers and/or in your supplier handbook? Check whether your buying practices support or undermine your ethical criteria.
Do you use the British Fashion Council’s High End Designer Manufacturing database https://www.designerfactfile.com/Tools/Manufacturers-Database or Common Objective’s platform to work with reputable suppliers? https://www.commonobjective.co/
CRAFTSMANSHIP & COMMUNITY - Community – Supports the community of talent, skills and craftsmanship that make up our unique industry.
Support Traditional Skills
Heritage and handwork skills sustain local livelihoods and can have fewer negative social and environmental impacts as mass produced goods. Informal workers, often women with families to support, also benefit from a revival of traditional crafts and skills, as many are homeworkers.
Consider sourcing from artisans – many of whom now trade direct online – for components of products or for finishing. Doing so can help skills such as handspinning, handweaving and finishing to thrive.
Many of our designers manufacture in the UK. There are brilliant, highly skilled units, many of which are based in and around London. It is essential that we continue to work closely with manufacturers and help promote their services as they are a key part of the talent eco-system in the UK.
Do you use the British Fashion Council’s High End Designer Manufacturing database to source locally skilled workers and businesses? https://www.designerfactfile.com/Tools/Manufacturers-Database
Community or Charity Commitment
Does your business model allow for community projects in the UK or overseas? Do you or your business contribute to your local community? your products support European or International communities or charities?
Do you or your business contribute to your local community?
Do your products support European or International communities or charities?
The BFC wishes to thank Common Objective for supporting with their criteria (www.commonobjective.co). Common Objective is the platform created by the Ethical Fashion Forum - it is free to join and offers comprehensive resources to support fashion designers to operate in the most sustainable way. Definitions and guidance links for the criteria set out below can be found at http://bit.ly/sustainabilitydefinitions
We encourage the whole fashion industry to promote the good news stories and come together with one voice. #PositiveFashion
MODEL HEALTH & DIVERSITY
In December 2017 we announced a new Models First initiative that sees the British Fashion Council working alongside the newly formed British Fashion Model Agency Association, with the aim of setting best practice for the modelling industry and lobbying to remove barriers for models and talented individuals to work in the UK.
The British Fashion Model Agency Association (BFMAA) aims to unite the UK modelling industry to face and tackle industry challenges and recognise legitimate model agencies that sign-up to a code of Best Practice. The Models First Initiative, is chaired by the BFC and will form an independent committee comprising leading individuals from the fashion industry to develop a charter that will protect and give a voice to models. To reach someone at the BFC to discuss the Models First Initiative please call 020 7759 1996 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In September 2017 we were delighted to announce the appointment of Adwoa Aboah as the British Fashion Council’s Positive Fashion Ambassador for Model Health and Diversity, who will help the BFC lead the charge on change and use fashion as a positive platform to inspire future generations. We are working with Adwoa (Gurls Talk) and taking learnings from Google, Channel 4 and Elle to define our strategy on diversity which will be a focus in 2018.
Fashion SWITCH to Green
Launching in September 2017, The British Fashion Council, Dame Vivienne Westwood and the Mayor of London have joined forces in a campaign to bring the fashion industry together to lead in ambitious climate action, for a safer and greener future. Fashion SWITCH to Green, part of the BFC’s Positive Fashion initiative, asks fashion businesses to commit to SWITCHing offices and stores to a green electricity supplier or to a green energy tariff by 2020. The year 2020 significant, tying the campaign to the Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; whose goal it is to prevent what scientists regard as dangerous and irreversible levels of climate change.
Find out more.
LOCAL MANUFACTURING & CRAFTSMANSHIP
In March 2017 the BFC launched the High-End and Designer Manufacturers Database, a national database of UK manufacturers, which aims to make it easier for designers to gain ethical supply chain certificates and facilitate successful relationships between designers and production units. The initiative was a direct recommendation from the Manufacturing Report, published in 2015.
The British Fashion Council would like to thank Positive Fashion lead partner (2013-2016) M&S for their commitment to our initiative and their passion for developing and celebrating best practice in our industry.
In May 2016 in line with its aim to focus on best practice the Positive Fashion Committee partnered with the ‘Make it British – Meet the Manufacturer’ trade fair to host an event where a panel discussion between key industry figures, designers and manufacturers focused on helping designers to engage manufacturers in a way which secures the best results for all parties.
Positive Fashion’s first focus was on the challenges around High-End Designer Manufacturing in the UK. In March 2015 the BFC and a smaller working group comprising of M&S, UKFT, Creative Skillset, The Alliance Project and Centre for Fashion Enterprise worked alongside independent specialists in the sector to launch the High-end and Designer Manufacturing Report. The research was undertaken by Oxford Economics (OE) and Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) to resolve challenges faced by designers in finding the right production partners in the UK and the concerns around the long-term viability of existing units. Download the full Manufacuturing Report
A High-End Manufacturing Steering Committee continues to drive this work forward, with initial mapping of units and resourcing underway with access to audits to assist in assessing and developing standards.
A Positive Change Committee of BFC patrons, brands and advisors was created to support the development of the Positive Fashion strategy and advise on implementation of its three key pillars: Compliance (awareness of legislation and forthcoming legislation), Corporate Social Responsibility best practice guides) and Consumer (consumer engagement).
Download the full Positive Fashion Report
In 2013, the BFC executive board set the challenge to develop the organisation’s ethical and sustainable agenda. Meeting the board’s remit, a new stream of work called Positive Fashion was launched, supported by lead partner M&S, putting a broader focus on celebrating and encouraging Best Practice in the sector.
2006 - 2013
In 2006 the British Fashion Council launched Estethica, a pioneering scheme to put sustainable fashion at the heart of the mainstream industry by creating a showcase within London Fashion Week. Co-founders of Estethica, Orsola de Castro, Filippo Ricca and Anna Orsini, helped develop the strategy to pave the way for sustainable fashion business to be celebrated, whilst promoting an agenda of addressing waste, organic materials and fairtrade. The mentoring support provided through this scheme assisted new businesses to develop their sustainable agenda whilst developing commercially successful businesses. Christopher Raeburn is the most successful designer to come through Estethica, showing at both London Fashion Week and London Collections Men, part of NEWGEN supported by Topshop in the early years and shortlisted for the BFC/GQ Menswear Fund prize. In 2014, it was agreed that Orsola, Filiippo and Anna would independently continue the great work of Estethica, which would continue to be recognised by the BFC as they develop it into its next phase.
The British Fashion Council would like to thank those who have already contributed to its Positive Fashion Strategy since its inception:
Adam Fenwick, Fenwick Limited
Anna Orsini, Estethica
Annette Cremin, Selfridges
Belinda Earl, Marks & Spencer
Caroline Rush, CEO British Fashion Council
Catarina Midby, H&M
Christopher Moore and Glasgow Caledonian University
Dana Gers, Jimmy Choo
Daniella Vega, Selfridges
Diana Verde Nieto, Positive Luxury
Emma Byrne, Harvey Nichols
Eoghan Griffin, John Lewis Partnership
Eva Von Alvensleben, Kering
Filippo Ricca, Estethica
Juliet Warkentin, Amazon Fashion
Krishan Hundal, Marks & Spencer
M&S, Lead Positive Fashion Partner (2013-2016)
Orsola de Castro, Estethica
Paula Nickolds, John Lewis Partnership
Roberto Canevari, Burberry
Shadi Halliwell, Harvey Nichols
Stephen Sunnucks, Gap
Tania Littlehales, Marks & Spencer
The Alliance Project