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Industry Talk

Fashion and sustainability experts sign up for frank debate

The ASBCI’s conference will feature Colin McDowell OBE in conversation with one of Europe’s foremost environmental, social, and governance experts.

17th April 2019

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Halifax

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

Environmental, social, and governance expert Michael Spenley. © ASBCIIn a departure from the traditional presentation format, the keynote slot at the ASBCI’s upcoming fashion sustainability and ethics conference will see two of the industry’s leading experts sit down for an unscripted on-stage discussion about the challenges facing fashion as we enter a new era of environmental and social responsibility.

Best known for his role as chief fashion writer for The Sunday Times, journalist and author Colin McDowell has been a high-profile global commentator on all aspects of the fashion industry throughout his long and illustrious career. He will be answering questions posed by environmental, social, and governance expert Michael Spenley about how the fashion industry can and must commit to advancing the sustainability agenda.

This scene-setting discussion will draw on both Colin and Michael’s experiences and lessons learned over several decades and will highlight how much more needs to be done. But it will also be optimistic, with both experts explaining why there are many reasons to be hopeful, and how the influence of the younger generation can positively impact the future of the fashion industry.

Delivering sustainability in fashion

Building on this theme, Paul Smith, from online fashion retailer Missguided, will focus on how to empower this generation of young women to look and feel confident in a way that is sustainable for the generations that follow. Paul will look at why the UK’s consumption of fashion is the highest in Europe and what this means. His incisive presentation will also address the difficult question of who is responsible for delivering sustainability in fashion, the industry or the consumers it serves.

Chief fashion writer for The Sunday Times, journalist and author Colin McDowell. © ASBCI Meanwhile, Andrew Morgan from Coats, who recently led the company’s launch of its first sustainability report and new sustainability strategy, will talk about pioneering a sustainable future for the industry.

Finally, Carly Bilsbrough, global responsible sourcing manager from Shop Direct, will tell delegates how the retailer is addressing the issue of poor employment practices and working conditions in textile mills in southern India. Carly will outline how Shop Direct is working to enhance recruitment practices in Tamil Nadu through partnerships and community engagement, and how it plans to build on these foundations.


These speakers complete an impressive line-up that already includes UL, GreenEarth, Alvanon, M&S, Shirley Technologies, Eurofins | BLC Leather Technology, Recyclatex, and University of Leeds.

The conference will take place at the Renaissance Manchester City Centre Hotel on 8 May. It will be hosted by Dr Julie King, deputy dean at the University of South Wales and ASBCI event director, and is sponsored by UL, GreenEarth Cleaning, and Coats.

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