In the opening speech of this year’s World Fashion Convention presented by the International Apparel Federation and the Sewn Products Equipment and Suppliers of the Americas (SPESA), Altan highlights that the fashion industry has never faced as much pressure from wars, legislation or climate change. He points out however that “fashion manufacturers cannot act green when they are in the red”.

The president believes the fashion industry has been constructive in creating solutions but the transition is happening too slowly.

He says: “This conference won’t spend too much time describing problems – we’re focused on the solutions to make apparel supply chains smarter and more sustainable,” and continues: “It makes no sense speaking about sustainability without talking about the models that will require change.”

Altan shares the industry needs collaboration – we need to build and try out new models of sourcing that are based on sharing and reward and he points to the IAF being busy trying to practice what it preaches with an agreement with the Sustainable Terms of Trade Initiative (STTI).

“It has demonstrated the ability of the global manufacturing industry to act and speak with a single voice,” he says, adding: “Representing the global manufacturing community we’ve created connections between suppliers, brands and retailers to make it easier for solutions to be implemented.”

Plus, he reveals the IAF is signing agreements with Spanish fashion brand conglomerate Inditex, the International Trade Centre and Better Buying amongst others.

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He explains the industry challenge is to collaborate across the supply chain and create more value, especially as the state of the economy is “not great” due to higher interest rates and inflation as well as declining consumer confidence following the war in Ukraine.

However, SPESA chairman Ed Gribbin remains positive about the direction the fashion industry. He argues: “When I’m asked about the outlook of our industry – barring some geopolitical or climate disaster I’m optimistic about where we’re heading.

“The brands and manufacturers I speak to are cautiously optimistic about resolving the industry issues that put a dampener on 2022.

But, events of the past few weeks highlight the need for resiliency in an ever more dangerous world.”

For SPESA president Michael McDonald it’s significant that the World Fashion Convention has arrived in the US. He explains the event has more speakers than ever used at a SPESA event before with an audience from all over the world. He says: “It’s the first time in 23 years that the IAF has been to the US and we’re honoured that it’s happening now and with SPESA.”