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Wear Now: The little conference that grew has put Canada in the top league of global sustainable fashion.

THE ATMOSPHERE was vibrant and exciting at the Steam Whistle Brewery this past November during the 2017 World Ethical Apparel Roundtable (WEAR). Founder Kelly Drennan and her team have catapulted Canada's sustainable fashion conference into the top league of global sustainable fashion conferences.

An estimated 180 people from 16 countries gathered to hear 28 speakers present the current research and business development on four key fashion topics: textiles, labour, water and waste, and the circular economy. Each topic began with a keynote speaker followed by a panel presentation and a workshop. Participants had the choice between various workshops to deepen their new knowledge and discuss relevant points with a smaller audience. It was a fantastic opportunity to connect with people passionate about improving conditions in the fashion industry. The only downside was how few Canadian retail and industry brands were in attendance. It seems that sustainable fashion is still not a top priority for them.

Despite this lack of Canadian industry representation, Canadian talent and passion for the issue was highlighted in the screened documentary Riverblue. This Canadian production, produced by Roger Williams, examines the worldwide pollution of our rivers caused by the fashion industry. Unlike other documentaries on the topic, Riverblue exposes the dark side of the industry and presents innovative solutions to river pollution. Williams' fellow panelists Luigi Caccia from Ital Denim and Alex Penades from Jeanologia (Spain) were also featured in the documentary.

The conference also had plenty to offer on how social entrepreneurship is changing the future of clothing production. About 20 social innovators from the global fashion industry regaled the audience with their stories and experiences on social innovation and social entrepreneurship. A highlight was Evrnu CEO Stacy Flynn's description of her journey as an entrepreneur driven to develop a technology to create new fibre out of textile waste. Her technology will help to enable the linear fashion industry to become circular.

Now my only question is whether WEAR can surpass expectations for the October 1&2, 2018 conference.

This year, every visitor received an upcycled bag sponsored by Bank & Vogue. The bag itself is the most sustainable version of a shopping bag, even better than a shopping bag from recycled polyester (see "A Stitch in Time" on page 80).

Caption: Under the Umbrella of Fashion Takes Action and funded by Trillium Foundation, Ontario's Textile Waste Diversion Coalition is working with more than 50 stakeholders including Textile collectors, Municipalities, Retailers, Academia, Industry and Not for profit organization on four topics to increase textile waste diversion and to create the capacity to build a textile recycling industry in Ontario. After four intensive days of strategizing, they collectively developed a common language document to define the terms related to textile diversion and recycling and a Common Agenda Framework and Draft Theory of Change, which can be found on fashiontakesaction.com/textile-diversion-lab.

The ultimate goal: no textiles in the landfill or incinerator.

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Title Annotation:2017 World Ethical Apparel Roundtable
Author:Weber, Sabine
Publication:Alternatives Journal
Article Type:Conference notes
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Mar 22, 2018
Words:484
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