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Shaping Lankan fashion’s circular future with design, tech and innovation

Sustainable Fashion Summit 2018 to lead South Asian thought leadership on the most

critical environmental, social and ethical issues facing the fashion industry and the

planet, from Colombo: Held 25th October as part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Sri


Since its first edition held close to a decade ago, in 2009, Sri Lanka’s Sustainable Fashion

Summit has established itself as one of South Asia’s leading events on sustainability in the

wearables business. By convening Sri Lanka’s apparel industry decision makers and major

influencers in the global fashion business, the Sustainable Fashion Summit has contributed a

unique and progressive discourse on the evolving interplay between fashion, people and the

planet out of the region. Presented as a biennial event, this forum consolidates year-round

thinking, innovations and missions of Lankan apparel, and similar global parallels to influence

the global fashion system to change the way we produce, market and consume wearables.

Returning to the global sustainability calendar in 2018, the Sustainable Fashion Summit brings

together cutting edge thinking by global changemakers, and the world’s first ethical apparel

sourcing destination—Sri Lanka Apparel. In this upcoming edition, thought leadership has

evolved from the ethical platform to promoting sustainable business practices and on to

extending the dialogue towards designing fashion’s circular future. The 2018 edition of

Sustainable Fashion Summit is held as part of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Sri Lanka

presented by AOD and powered by Dimo—the official custodians for the Mercedes-Benz brand

in Sri Lanka. The summit will be held on 25th of October as the event kicking off the fashion

week, signifying its importance to the Lankan fashion landscape.

Lankan apparel makers’ sustainability discourse to mobilise the global fashion


The Sustainable Fashion Summit is a multi stakeholder event that has emerged as a powerful

South Asian nexus for agenda-setting discussions on sustainability and the business of fashion.

For 2018, the summit will be bringing together the world’s foremost authorities on sustainability

and circular economy with industry leaders and value chain partners to discuss, debate and

identify meaningful outcomes for an industry with a global value chain that is working hard to

limit its damage to the environment and has a strong voice and platform to influence other


Structured with a power-packed half-day format, the 2018 summit offers an intense immersive

opportunity to make sustainability driven progress through discussion and networking with like-

minded professionals and thinkers.

As always, the summit presents an outstanding line-up of knowledgeable and inspiring high-

level speakers, plus, roundtable panels that unite industry decision makers, entrepreneurs,

designers, educators and fashion value chain members. The summit attendees will be

welcomed by its founder Linda Speldewinde, and directed throughout the rest of the conference

by its co-chairs Nikhil Hirdaramani—director sustainability/Hirdaramani Group and Robert

Meeder—chair and professor of Fashion and Luxury Fashion Management at SCAD, Hong


Sustainability futures

​​​Opening the summit will be the co-founders of the world’s leading trend analysts and

forecasters for the business of fashion—The Future Laboratory. Chris Sanderson and Martin

Raymond will build their session on how fashion brands, makers and value chain should unite

where governments fail to tackle the challenges of sustainability, because consumers are

increasingly looking to the corporate world for answers. They will direct the conversation to

where many brands practice greenwashing rather than actually reducing their environmental

impact and how this leads to consumer mistrust, impacting the entire economy. The session will

outline how fashion businesses, from makers to retailers, will need to prove a deep and far-

sighted commitment to sustainability in order to connect with the next generation, which knows it

is no longer a choice or something nice to have.

Galvanizing a sustainable future from multiple fronts

​​​Answering to the ground swell from within and sharing the experience of heading sustainable

and circular initiatives with global retailers, SAC and ASHOKA Foundation’s Fabric for Change

Globalizer, Kate Heiny will become part of the summit. She will discuss how strategic

approaches from multiple fronts is a necessity to create sufficient momentum to assure a

sustainable future for any business, including fashion.


Sri Lanka Apparel sets the standard

​​​Weighing Sri Lankan apparel industry’s thinking on what it takes to challenge the destructive

business norms that govern the fashion business today, this session presents how Sri Lanka

Apparel stands ahead, not only leading by example but also starting difficult conversations and

encouraging others to engage, pushing the boundaries to find a global solution. Having

adopted best in class business practices that saves the environment and cares for its people,

and constantly engaging with brands and value chain partners to make a difference, the industry

has stepped up once again to pilot the world’s first collaborative multi-stakeholder and industry-

wide initiative ‘Social and Labor Convergence Project’. A panel including Nikhil

Hirdaramani—director sustainability at Hirdaramani Group, Eranthi Premarathne—director

sustainable business at MAS Kreeda and Dr.Lloyd Fernando—director of Global Business

Development & Innovation, will explore the industry’s progress towards a circular future during

this session.

Fashion for good: innovation platform

​​​Supported by an innovation hub in Amsterdam, a startup accelerator in Silicon Valley and a

worldwide network of changemakers—‘Fashion for Good’—reimagines the way wearables are

designed, made, worn and reused. By providing the inspiration and information needed to make

it possible, revolutionising the fashion industry so that people, companies and the planet can

flourish together, ‘Fashion for Good’ has sparked up a progressive chain of change. Rogier Van

Mazijk—the investment manager at Fashion for Good, ​​​Roy Hirsch of Nano textile, ​​​Karun Tiyagi

of Proklean and Saranavan P of Trustrace will come together to discuss how changemakers of sustainability can influence fashion.

Algae—the future fashion commodity

​​​Designer, serial entrepreneur and the winner of H&M Foundation’s Global Change award in

2016, Tjeerd Veenhoven has made it his business to use design thinking through innovation,

research, design and collaborative process to transition towards a circular economy. Zooming in

on his project on algae, a great sustainable alternative, he explains the technology behind the

process, the underlying innovation roadmap and the entire process from idea to first product,

inspiring next gen designers, educators, and fashion industry professionals to think outside the

box to reinvent wearables as we know it.

Education, youth, molding the future

​​​Gen Z has an enormous stake in the present and future states of the planet. With almost half

the population under age of twenty five, they will need to become the stewards of sustainable

development and set an example to the generation to follow. Through education, resources,

skills, political support and hope of course, they are best positioned to succeed where Gen X

and Y failed. Prof Heike Selmer—fashion design at Weißensee School of Art and founder of

greenlab, Tina Hjort—lecturer and project developer of sustainable fashion at KEA Copenhagen

School of Design & Technology, Clarissa Berg–consultant of collaborative projects at KEA, Prof.

Claudia Schwarz–fashion management at Mediadesign University of Applied Sciences Munich

and Prof. Jennifer Varekamp–fashion & design at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, will

come together to discuss this essential topic mapping fashion’s big picture, moderated by

Robert Meeder.

Mainstreaming a sustainable fashion future

Leveraging experience from Ethical Fashion Show and the Greenshowroom in Berlin, the trade

fair duo for sustainable and fair fashion share a new concept ‘Neonyt’. It outlines a global hub

for future-driven, sustainable fashion. With Berlin Fashion Week celebrated for sustainability, as

its unique selling point, the Founder and Creative Director of the Greenshowroom—Magdalena

Schaffrin explores opportunities to mainstream sustainable fashion through synergies with Sri

Lanka, the only apparel manufacturing nation with sustainability as its USP.

The summit will also include a networking lunch allowing new discussions, open conversations

and possible collaborations to light up. The Sustainable Fashion Summit will be held at the

Dimo 800, Mercedes-Benz Centre of Excellence in Colombo, unveiling sustainability as one of the most important thinking and practices that outline ‘Innovation Island’—the globally relevant

theme of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2018 where Sri Lanka’s regional leadership as a

creative hub will be in focus.

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