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Photo Courtesy of Fashion Impact Fund
24 June 2024

United Nations Fashion and Lifestyle Network Annual Forum Focuses on Innovative Solutions to Advance Sustainability and Women’s Rights

The United Nations Fashion and Lifestyle Network Annual Meeting took place in the Trusteeship Council Chamber at the UN Headquarters on 3 June.

Some of the leading innovative and creative voices of the fashion and lifestyle industries were amplified and more than 400 prominent global stakeholders representing brands, companies, academia, media and NGOs joined the United Nations Fashion and Lifestyle Network Annual Meeting. 

The initiative was organized by the UN Office for Partnerships and the Fashion Impact Fund.

Throughout the event, speakers participated in 10 dynamic panels that covered a wide array of topics from sustainable lifestyle and tourism to circular and inclusive businesses across textiles, apparel, and jewelry. Participating in these discussions were the iconic Italian jewelry designer Roberto Coin, UK visionary designer Patrick McDowell, Interim Executive Dean of the Parsons School of Design Yvonne Watson, circularity advocate Indre Rockefeller, New York-based designer Emily Bode, UN representatives from UN Tourism, Disability Inclusion Team, Department of Global Communications, and UNESCO, and other inspiring speakers who shared their insights and expertise.

The event focused on a range of challenges confronting the sectors, including overconsumption, consumer buying habits, and the need for clothing designs that will last longer, or that could be repurposed, reused, or recycled in the future.

Annemarie Hou, Executive Director of the UN Office for Partnerships said in her opening remarks: “This is the moment to choose a different path, one that will help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals if we make a major course correction now. We know change is possible.”

Adam Taubvenfligel, Creative Director of Triarchy Denim, spoke about the journey of developing stretch denim fabric that uses only natural rubber rather than plastics to provide sustainable alternative to traditional materials used by the denim industry. Adam also mentioned the circularity project that utilizes unused denim from Triarchy to provide compost for tomato plants - a creative collaboration at the intersection of fashion and food.

Kerry Bannigan, Executive Director of the Fashion Impact Fund, said the meeting “marks a pivotal moment in our collective mission to forge a sustainable and just future. Today, we stand at the crossroads of opportunity and responsibility. The lifestyle and fashion sectors must lead with bold actions, consistent investments, and sustained engagement to confront critical global challenges.”

In addition to conversations and presentations, the event announced two new collaborative initiatives that have sustainable and inclusive design and lifestyle at their core. 

The Fashion and Lifestyle Network curated a collaboration with the Swedish School of Textiles, which will create a new generation of sustainable uniforms for the UN HQ tour guides. The new uniforms will be co-designed with students. By integrating sustainable materials and practices, these young designers will create uniforms that not only meet the functional needs of tour guides but also embody the principles of sustainability.

Johan Forssell, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade of Sweden stated: "The Swedish footprint at the UN Headquarters in New York is significant. It extends beyond policy and engagement to our work on sustainability and the 2030 Agenda across various sectors. We are proud that the Swedish School of Textiles in Borås, ranked as one of the top fashion schools in the world, has the opportunity to showcase Swedish sustainable fashion at the UN Headquarters."

Ambassador Maurizio Massari, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, said at the event: “Italy was one of the top 10 textile exporters and was leading the way in lowering the industry’s environmental footprint, including measures to increase waste re-utilization.”

Aligned with Amb. Massari’s statement, the event also featured the announcement of a collaboration with the regional government of Tuscany on the pilot project - the United Nations Fashion and Lifestyle Hub. This initiative aims to highlight innovations driving impact on the SDGs at a regional level. The Hub will provide a space to convene academic institutions, non-profits and businesses to collaborate and advance their work on sustainability and inclusive practices. 

Eugente Giani, President of the Italian region of Tuscany, shared a letter that was presented at the event highlighting the importance of capitalizing synergies on important challenges for fashion and lifestyle and stated, “So let's work together to make SDGs impactful and vital for a sustainable future in fashion, travel, and lifestyle!”

About the United Nations Fashion Lifestyle Network:

The United Nations Fashion Lifestyle Network is a global initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable and inclusive practices within the fashion and lifestyle industries. With a growing membership and a commitment to the SDGs, the network strives to create a positive impact on both a local and a global scale.

The UN Fashion and Lifestyle Network is led by the United Nations Office for Partnerships and the Fashion Impact Fund. The Network is a catalyst for sustainable development within the fashion and lifestyle sectors.

To learn more about the UN Fashion and Lifestyle Network click here.