The theme of the 36th IAF World Fashion Convention is: ‘Transition in the Global Fashion System’. Transition is the operative word. The theme recognizes the fact that the demand from societies and from consumers, the restraints posed by the earth’s ecosystem and the possibilities offered by technology converge to create a necessity for transition. Merely adapting does not seem to be enough in 2020. Adapting is too slow. New successful companies based on entirely different business models shape the industry’s transition, as do existing companies embarking on bold programs of change. Transition will not involve the industry alone but requires all in the entire fashion ecosystem to work together. It requires a good and close collaboration with governments, creating regulatory environments that are supporting transition without stifling entrepreneurial drive. Educational institutes are engines of transition not only by training new employees, but also by actively nurturing new business.
The Convention’s Thematic Objectives in Detail
The Future of the Apparel Business
The conference program will offer a peek into the future of a transformed textiles and apparel industry. New business models, new production models and techniques, new distribution methods and new material functionalities will be dealt with by our speakers. The major transformation required is that of the current prevailing business model that focusses too much on low costs throughout the supply chain creating a very inefficient, high waste system. Better business models focus on supply chain collaboration and upstream investments to reduce uncertainty, to reduce waste and to create more revenue for all components of the supply chain. We will also discuss the future of work itself, with deep insights offered into the effect of robotization on the role of labour.
Legislation and harmonisation
The apparel industry, having such a profound impact on societies across the world, is heavily regulated, both by governments and by itself. This has diverse impacts on our industry, ranging from catastrophic to very supportive. Among others, there are rules and regulations covering trade policy, supply chain communication and policies protecting workers, the consumer and the natural environment. In any case, legislation is an integral part of transformation, as long as it is done in the right way. IAF, as the global body for the apparel industry, continuously works on global harmonization of rules and regulations. In this Convention, we will focus on the reduction of audit and standard fatigue and industry standards for the transformation to a more digital industry. But it is important for the industry to understand the legislative trends and to understand how to deal with existing and upcoming legislation and where possible to influence it.
Education and training
Education is a strategic issue for the global fashion industry. Companies operating globally must be able to connect to a global network of fashion educators. Top companies must be able to find global top talent. Education is a prerequisite for transformation. During this Convention we will focus on the changing requirements of industry, of educators and of the interaction between the two caused by industry transformation. Especially the increased use of technology requires different skill sets and different approaches to education. At the same time, traditional skills that are crucial to producing quality must also not be lost. In all cases, the industry faces the huge challenge of being able to attract enough good new people.
Responsible Business Conduct, Sustainability including Circular Economy
The drive to use less resources by reusing materials has become irreversible. It is the ultimate example of an industry transformation that requires the entire fashion ecosystem to collaborate globally. This Convention offers an ideal chance for manufacturers to interact with brands, retailers and policy makers to learn what is expected of them and to tell what they need to be able to contribute to the drive of making the apparel industry more circular. In the area of Responsible Business Conduct in Europe the prospect of a mandatory due diligence law is becoming more firm. In Antwerp, we will be speaking within a stone’s throw of Brussels. This is a very topical backdrop as the EU, and some of the EU’s member states are very actively introducing legislation to create a more circular textile and apparel industry and to introduce a mandatory due diligence law.