The Ethical Fashion Forum's Source Expo, the only trade show in the UK dedicated to ethical sourcing, kicked off yesterday, and it's already being hailed as a massive success. A wide range of seminars on areas like Latin America and India, and on subjects like the cotton industry have brought a community of like-minded designers and retailers together to air their grievances and share their ideas. The buzz is palpable and thrilling to behold.
Strong themes are already starting to emerge. The importance of good communication with suppliers, especially in cross-cultural circumstances, and the need for a deep knowledge of the entire supply chain cropped up again and again. There were calls for organic cotton and fair-trade goods to be much more readily available on the high street. Brands that I've mentioned before in this blog, like innovative jeweller Caipora and organic shoemakers Veja were both held up as great examples of what can be achieved in a rapidly evolving market.
The future of sustainability forum was the big draw, and there were some big ideas to match. Bridging the gap between the luxury industry and sustainable supply was raised as a great way to bring things forward. It's important that ethical clothing should be regarded as beautiful and lust-worthy, not just worthy. Even in a recession, people will buy beautiful products, especially if they're seen as an investment - and that investment can be towards the planet and it's people as well as your wardrobe. The call was clear: "it's not just sustainable ethics, it's sustainable aesthetics!"
Source Expo continues today at Sadler's Wells. if you can't make it and you want a flavour of the event, check out @EthicalFashionF on Twitter for the live stream of fora and happenings. The ideas and enthusiasm bubbling out of the expo are thought-provoking and intoxicating in equal measure.