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The 2021 IAF World Fashion Convention held in October 2021 in the city of Antwerp was the 36th annual fashion convention. The idea behind hosting such a convention was to bring together the important delegates of the fashion world and people who work hand-in-hand with the industry representatives in terms of supply. The congregation included select fashion designers and industry experts working globally to make innovative feats in fashion a successful venture. Every year, the delegates discuss ways to bring about effective changes within the fashion ecosystem and make sure that the transition is fast-paced and smooth in its course.
The theme of the 36th IAF World Fashion Convention:
The convention’s theme in 2021 was the ‘Transition of the Global Fashion System.’ The main idea behind the theme was to introspect the rapid changes and demands in consumer behavior and how the industry can tackle these demands. The “transition” mentioned in the theme of the convention was mainly viewed through the perspective of the supply chain and the global industry ecosystem at large. The convention also discussed the change that technology could bring about and the threats that the earth’s ecosystem is facing and would continue to face in the future. The key insights from the fashion world convention were:
- The pandemic really revealed the cracks in the industry’s model. The industry had been facing challenges even prior to the pandemic, and the year 2020 just pressed upon the fact that merely molding according to the given circumstances was no longer an option.
Several bankruptcies were declared within the industry as the supply chain could not cope with the enormous demand that came after the pandemic. This just harped upon the fact that the industry individuals, as well as the manufacturers, had to plan and pre-empt consumer demand and work accordingly.
- The adoption of new business models was discussed. Discussions were held on topics like how to make the supply chains more resilient and overall transparency within the buyer and supplier demands. This means that the buyers and suppliers have to work in tandem, like a well-oiled machine, to make the transition within the industry plausible.
The delegates of the convention were chosen accordingly where more focus was on the solid representation of SME companies and that of the supply chain individuals, subsequently highlighting the convention’s primary goal. Within the new business models discussed, digitalization played an important part. People attending the conference unanimously concluded that it was only through technology and digitalization, in particular, that the industry could cope with the rapid changes happening within the industry and the earth’s ecosystem.
- The fact that the mention of the word ‘transition’ within the theme of the convention meant not just transition within the industry but also in every other leg of the fashion ecosystem was made evidently clear by the delegates. Running a successful business venture within the industry includes not just yielding hefty profits by the end of the day but also working to contribute to the ecosystem. This would mean working closely with the mandates given by the ruling government, which keeps the environmental and sustainability goals in mind. This would also include working actively towards creating an atmosphere where creativity is encouraged instead of being stifled by an entrepreneurial gusto.
- The importance of educational institutes in training the industry individuals was also elaborately discussed at the convention. Education and subsequent training foster a healthy environment within which the art of textiles can grow and thrive. Educational institutes are therefore important vehicles of ‘transition’ not just through the training of better industry individuals but also through creating a better environment that enhances the growth of new entrepreneurial drives.
The 2021 IAF World Fashion Convention was primarily a physical event that was live-streamed for all those who couldn’t be physically present, owing to Covid restrictions. The convention brought together eminent individuals from the industry, starting from Joachim Hensch from Hugo Boss, Brigitte Stepputtis from Vivienne Westwood, Matthew Drinkwater from the London College of Fashion, Andrés Fernandéz, the COO Mango and Adriano Goldschmied, more popularly known as the ‘Godfather of Denim’, to name a few. The event marked a key shift in the ways in which the fashion world works, and it would be interesting to see how the points discussed in the convention are implemented in the future.