Youth Fashion Summit is part of the Global Fashion Agenda and in partnering with Copenhagen School of Design and Technology

About the Youth Fashion Summit 2018-2019

About the Youth Fashion Summit 2018-2019

The Youth Fashion Summit 2018-2019 programme is a partnership with the United Nations Global Compact that takes form as a two-year student programme, which sets out to challenge the 100 most talented students in the fashion industry to create a framework for the industry on how to reach two of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely SDG 3 and SDG 5.

The two-year sustainability programme is put together by the United Nations Global Compact in collaboration with the Global Fashion Agenda and Copenhagen School of Design and Technology and challenge the students to specifically dive into SDG 3, ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, and SDG 5, achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The extracurricular programme is organised around webinars providing the students with different approaches, tools, as well as practical examples, and all participants will receive reading lists and preliminary assignments.


Opening speech at Copenhagen Fashion Summit

16 May 2018 

We invite you to close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Inhale – Exhale. This clean air is a privilege you share with the person next to you. This air is essential, and it is what binds us.
But not everyone has access to clean air. Keeping your eyes closed, now visualize a sandal factory in Cambodia. Breathe in the air of this factory.

Can you feel how heavy, sweaty, and putrid it is? Listen to the sounds of the factory. Can you hear how loud it is? Can you hear the banging of sewing machines? Can you hear the hammering of studs into shoe soles?
Now, return to Copenhagen and open your eyes.

Imagine a future for the factory in Cambodia. A future environment that is as clean as in this room. Let the calmness of this moment flow to create a different fashion industry. Imagine a future of empathy and equality, where the fashion industry has become a community for change.

We are the collective voices of the Youth Fashion Summit. We represent 36 different nationalities from all around the world, but today we are united as the advocates of the future generation to act on the vision of the United Nations for global prosperity.

For the last three days we have been joined in forging collaborative relationships to improve inclusion and active stewardship of our legacy in society.

By engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals, #3 for health and well-being and #5 for gender equality, we urge you to work with us to alleviate suffering and inequality.

Equal access to education is an important catalyst, for building partnerships and transparency.
Our goal today is to facilitate an ongoing shift of mindsets, leading towards a future where an alliance of all people make our resolutions a reality.

How many in the room know the name of a garment factory worker?… Of a fibre farmer? Do they have children? Do they have access to fresh water?

Right now, the industry is demanding too much of its most vulnerable stakeholders: women and children.

Someone in this room has implemented onsite childcare for their workers. Another has replaced animal textiles with vegan alternatives. We want all stakeholders to collaborate, not compete, creating a platform of shared knowledge and best practices. This starts with each sector taking public responsibility for their impacts. Instead of working in silos, companies making a positive impact need to be transparent about their strategies. Only by leading through example can we enable systemic change.

We ask that each stakeholder take first steps towards a circular supply chain. By investing collectively in promising innovations, such as alternatives textiles and closed-loop production technologies, we steward a business model where transparency is inherent and the need for virgin fiber is eventually eliminated. This reduces the unsustainable dependence we place on our scarce water resources, the exorbitant amount of CO2 emitted, and the rapidly increasing quantity of microplastics released into our oceans each year.

Responsible legislation is a first step towards achieving global health and well-being. Its apparent thatthe system is broken when a worker’s minimum wage does not even allow for three meals a day. By investing in relationships and solutions at the local level we can strengthen the global health of our industry.

We believe that fashion is a wonderful vessel that enables us to express our personality, creativity and diversity. However, there is a darker reality to fashion. We see an industry rife with gender inequality and oppression of women and girls, across every stage of the value chain.
The Sustainable Development Goal 5 encourages us to acknowledge the many conscious and unconscious biases rooted within the system.

It also inspires us to seek out new roads towards equality and empowerment for all genders.

As we all know, but might not fully acknowledge, the fashion industry is driven by women. 80% of garment workers are women and 66% of those are of the same age as us, standing on this stage.

How is it that a large part of these women are still oppressed and discriminated against in their everyday lives? No matter if it is a buyer earning less than her male colleague or a garment worker who has to fear for her safety within the factory.

We want a reality where humans come before profit and where women and men are treated equally at all stages. Where we continue to challenge existing mindsets, and relationships are rooted in honesty and compassion.

We want collaboration throughout the industry in order to have all genders on equal ground. By being the innovative frontrunners of the fashion industry we insist that you take the initiative and recognize the benefits and potential of diversity and inclusivity. We now have the evidence that this works -diversity delivers….across culture and profitability. We urge you to harness this opportunity within your organisations by offering education as a driving force for acceptance of gender as a spectrum, with the ultimate aim to empower all people within your value chain.

As actors within this human collective, we want you to do what you do best – use your creativity, energy and industry to alleviate the suffering of the oppressed.

We, the changemakers of Youth fashion summit, call upon you, members of the audience, to make this future that we have imagined a reality.

To the CEOs in the audience, we expect you to go beyond profit motivations and redefine value, as the health, well-being, and equality of all participants. The prosperity of this investment will manifest itself throughout your organizations.

To the Government representatives: we urge you to form legislations that support gender equality throughout all industries and stop suffering within the supply chain.

To Non Governmental Organizations: We encourage you to take advantage of your independent perspective and influence on the industry in order to guide the changes to come.

To the Media: We ask that you become a platform to acknowledge the disconnect between practices and promises of equality, and that you share our demands for the future of the fashion industry.

To the Manufacturers: We require that you give voices to all of the workers in the value chain, and that you are transparent in all of your methodologies.

And finally, to the Consumers, we want you all to be conscious and informed in your decision making, using your purchasing power to inform the industry of our collective investment in the equality and wellbeing of all.

We have the power to disrupt the fashion industry to make sustainability and equality the new normal. Now, I want you to take another deep breath with me.

Inhale – and exhale.

Consider the legacy that we will leave on the planet, for the air we breathe today, and for the air to be inhaled by our great-great grandchildren. Thank you.





1. As we’ve seen from the first United Nations Earth Summit in 1992, two years before I was born, an urgency for demanding responsible water consumption, controlled chemical usage, sustainable raw materials, and the fight against climate change have been at the forefront of conversations about our future. We cannot continue business as usual, but the reality is that we’ve seen so few changes; production continues to increase, raw materials become more scarce, and our waters are increasingly more polluted. Why, year after year, have there only been incremental shifts towards a positive and regenerative future? What investments in innovation and creativity are you implementing to finally accelerate change.

2. On the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution where AI is on the verge of out-performing humans, where robots are expected to make up 25% of all manufacturing by 2020, and where in some countries up to 90% of workers may lose their jobs. How do you plan to maintain the human element of craft so that speed and automation is not getting out of control? How do you plan to prevent the gap of the richer getting richer and the poorer getting poorer.

3. 80% of the fashion industry is functioning in the developing part of the world. We sit here today in this secure environment discussing the challenges in the value chain, around working conditions and fair wages; far removed from reality. My question here is- how do we take into account these voices from across the world, beyond hierarchy and management barriers? How do we ensure the inclusion and therefore integration of the global participants of the value chain to formulate a truly global agenda.

4. As companies who are seemingly trying to empower women and increase representation and diversity in media campaigns, what are you actually doing to disrupt an industry that is actively causing violence against women, particularly those from certain racial, ethnic, or socio- economic groups, to move past tokenization to true systemic change.

5. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that 15.1 million tons of textile waste was generated in 2013, of which 12.8 million tons were discarded. In 2018, we still see a continuation of the unsustainable acceleration of consumption and waste, with no end in sight. Each company in this room is directly responsible for the waste created, and each company must be held responsible for solutions. The current fast fashion model is antiquated when we look at creating a more sustainable future. Your company needs to disrupt the endless cycle of overproduction, overconsumption, and ultimately minimize the waste that is created. As strong influencers for a responsible, waste conscious future, we need you commit to innovating a future business model in which overconsumption, overproduction and waste is addressed. We cannot wait any longer to enact tangible change, which one of you will take this risk, and what will your commitment be?

6. In the CEO agenda, it is explicitly stated that brands must pay a minimum wage to their suppliers. However, according to the International Labor Organization, there is a clear discrepancy between a minimum wage and a living wage. Why is it that, In spite of this discrepancy, the ceo agenda is not promoting the living wage over the minimum wage? Furthermore, factory workers are absent as stakeholders in the fair wage dialogue in the CEO agenda. How are you ensuring that their voices are heard and their needs are met?

Global Fashion Agenda mission is to mobilize the international fashion industry to transform the way we produce and consume fashion today. GFA is a unit under Danish Fashion Institute, a non-profit organization. GFA has several flagship events where Copenhagen Fashion Summit offer a meeting platform for fashion sector decision-makers to learn from and engage with industry frontrunners, leading NGOs, experts, policy-makers and academia, and come together on making sustainability a strategic priority.

Copenhagen School of Design and Technology, KEA is a higher education with an expansive design program where sustainability is a key driver. KEA wishes that the fashion actors of the future have skills and leverage to drive the sustainability agenda forward. KEA seeks, therefore, to collaborate with various actors within other educations, businesses, organisations and civil society to engage in this agenda.


The United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take action in support of UN goals and issues embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals. The UN Global Compact is a leadership platform for the development, implementation and disclosure of responsible corporate practices. Launched in 2000, it is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world, with more than 9,500 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and more than 70 Local Networks.

PANDORA designs, manufactures and markets hand-finished and contemporary jewellery made from high-quality materials at affordable prices. Present in more than 100 countries on six continents, it employs more than 27,350 people globally.

PANDORA is strongly committed to the United Nations Global Compact and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As of today, they focus on the seven goals where they believe their business can have the largest positive, as well as adverse impact – including good health and wellbeing (SDG 3) and gender equality (SDG 5). PANDORA is proud to be the official partner of YFS 2018-19, and excited about interacting with the voices of the next generation on how to further pursue SDG 3 and 5.