Disasters bring out the best in people. The current disruption and economic standstill has put a strong call on me to consider what concrete steps I can take right now to serve my network with knowledge and resources that will innovate the fashion industry and keep us in solidarity with one another..
On March 8th I was supposed to be in Italy. The itinerary included a visit to the Milano/Bergamo area for a sustainability trade mission, organized by the Dutch Consulate in Italy. Next up was a visit to Rome to teach a couple of classes in the International Business School's Fashion Master program. When all of this was cancelled on February 20, Covid-19 had an immediate impact on my life and work. Through this and deeply sensing a need for creativity, leadership and connectivity, I came to develop a new movement and a possible start-up: A community platform for fashion as we have never seen before.
Covid-19 stimulates innovation
Our regular patterns are increasingly upending with every moment that passes and the fashion industry needs to put a better system in place. The most inspiring thought on Covid-19 came out on March 5th. The Dutch trend rock star Li Edelkoort gave her reflection on the effect of this dangerous virus. It ends manufacturing cycles, travel plans, and conference schedules in fashion around the world. Li is seeing a positive outcome and called the Coronavirus 'An amazing grace for the planet'. She stated: "I think we should be very grateful for the virus because it might be the reason we survive as a species. We need to change our behavior to save the environment. COVID-19 could open new avenues for innovation".
Smart working now
Positive, empathic and human focussed initiatives are rising. Apple will give retail workers unlimited sick leave if they show symptoms of Covid-19.Cristiano Ronaldo transforms his hotels into hospitals and Microsoft offers 6 months free Teams subscriptions to help people connect and work remotely. The Business of Fashion (BOF) published an encouraging article on this subject last week, outlining the steps the fashion industry can take to effectively navigate working remotely. BOF interviewed a variety of stakeholders in fashion in this call for action. The feedback is that we can see that in this historic situation, the industry is - finally - embracing the concept of smart working. This is an important enough situation to drive a behavioural change in the industry and to push creative thinkers to increasingly use tech and IT solutions in their creative process.
Alongside these practical solutions, I can sense a rise for a deeper 'whole system thinking'. A Vrij Nederland reporter joined the activist movement for sustainability: XR Extinction Rebellion. They claim that the involvement of people is key for meaningful and lasting change all over the world and across industries. This community of rebellions is based on creating regenerative culture and their learning can empower industries struggling with sustainability, like our fashion industry. Another thoughtleader on this subject is Bill Reed, an internationally recognized authority in sustainability and regenerative planning. His ideas are very interesting to explore and worth considering how we can apply Bill's approach to transform the fashion industry. There is a need to create a whole system thinking for fashion which entails cultuvating mutually beneficial relationships that drive a broader business ecosystem. Read a previous article on this topic here.
Join forces for the Fashion Industry.
A series of important innovation and sustainability projects have already been undertaken and executed by local industry participants and small groups. Individually and collectively we are waking up. What kind of culture will we create to express our wisdom and to share insights, opportunities and projects?
I am initiating a movement to bring about concrete change. A platform for unlimited networking, co-creation, creativity, knowledge sharing, work sharing, projects, matching, education and learning. Later this week I will share the agenda and an online place to hold weekly conference calls. Let's share concrete thoughts and create clear actions with measurable results. Click here if you want to join the conversation.
ISRID is an owner-run agency for access to talent, recruitment and change consultancy, serving an exclusive and high-quality portfolio of clients in the fashion, lifestyle and luxury industry.