Vogue, H&M Sponsor Sustainability Panel

How can brands can engage consumers about green practices and drive sustainability into their product lines?

That was the topic of conversation at “Green: The Trending Color in Fashion,” a panel discussion hosted by Vogue and H&M on Thursday in New York.

Panelists at the event, held in the Condé Nast auditorium in New York, included Helena Helmersson, global head of sustainability for H&M; Catarina Midby, global head of fashion and sustainability communication for H&M; Julie Gilhart, consultant and former SVP and fashion director at Barneys New York; Scott Mackinlay Hahn, co-founder of Rogan and Loomstate; Jasmin Malik Chua, managing editor of Ecouterre.com; and Bruno Pieters, founder of the Honest By brand.

Simon Collins, dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons, the New School of Design, moderated the discussion.

One point widely agreed upon by the panelists was the fact that increased interest by young consumers and designers will drive industry change.

Collins noted that Parsons added a professor of sustainability to the staff and made sustainability coursework mandatory for all design students. And students, he explained, expected that as part of their education.

“The revolution is happening as the younger generation gets older. They’re more educated [about sustainability],” Gilhart said.

Balancing the idea of fast fashion and consumption with an environmental agenda was also a hot topic. “Of course we’re going to expand, so how do we reduce our impact?” Helmersson said.

One option, according to the executive, is incentives to make it easy and reward consumers for bringing back older garments for recycling. In addition, effective labeling that highlights sustainable materials is important, Helmersson said.

She also addressed the need to move faster to create new standards and practices.
“To be able to make big changes by collaboration, the going is slow,” Helmersson said. “But the impact is huge. We need to speed it up.”

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