IAF Antwerp; Radical Transition in the Future of Fashion

The IAF (International Apparel Federation) https://www.iafnet.com/ has announced that the 36th IAF World Fashion convention will be held in Antwerp, Belgium from November 9 – 11, 2020.

IAF is the only global network for the apparel industry with members in more than 60 countries. Its mission is to unite all stakeholders of the fashion and apparel industry (brands, retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, and country associations from around the world) to enable and promote smarter, stronger, and more sustainable supply chains.


Matthijs Crietee from the IAF

It is important for the IAF to recognize the importance of Europe as a leader in the fashion community with a new emphasis of sustainability brought about with the G7 Fashion Pact, created by Emmanuel Macron in 2019.  Last fall, we published an article about “The Climate Emergency and Fashions Proactive Stance.”  https://www.manufacturer.com/news/the-climate-emergency-and-fashions-proactive-stance/


Antwerp is recognized as a global hub for emerging and leading designers who support the fashion industry in its transition.   The IAF is bringing together all aspects of fashion in order to share high-level insights and jointly discuss specific plans for action.


Consumers are beginning to demand change from the industry to protect the global eco system.   The theme of the 36th session is “Transition in the Global Fashion System”.  We shall review some of the objectives in detail:


The Future of Apparel

During this conference, the organizers will offer a peek into the future of a transformed apparel and textile industry.  By exploring new business ideas, production models, distribution methods, and material developments.  Robitization has started to replace human labour.  The conference will discuss the ramifications of this profound change. https://apparelresources.com/business-news/manufacturing/real-robot-threat-garment-workers/.  Knowledgeable speakers will explore the complications of this transformation and there will be parallel sessions with our partners focusing on education, technology, and the industry harmonization.


A Circular Economy

There will be a focus on the circular economy, implementing the refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle business model.  It is the ultimate goal of an industry transformation that will require the entire fashion ecosystem to collaborate globally.  Together with their partner Euratex, the IAF is one of the signatories of the “Manifesto to Deliver a Circular Economy in Textiles.” https://www.nweurope.eu/media/7443/policy-manifesto.pdf.  This Convention offers an ideal chance for manufacturers to interact with brands, retailers, and policy makers to learn what is expected of them; providing information and pathways to achieve a more circular industry.  One or more speakers in the plenary part will discuss this topic on Tuesday November 10th, and it will be the topic for one of the parallel sessions held on Wednesday, November 11th.  Some of the EU member states (ad countries that are doing this) are very actively introducing legislation to create a more circular industry.


Legislation and Harmonisation

The apparel industry is heavily regulated, both by governments and by itself. This has diverse impacts, ranging from catastrophic to very supportive. Among others, there are rules and regulations covering trade policy; supply chain communications; policies protecting workers, consumers, and the environment. In any case, legislation is an integral part of transformation. The IAF as a global representative for the apparel industry continuously works on harmonization of rules and regulations.  At this Convention, we will focus on the reduction of audits.  It is important for the industry to understand the legislative trends, and to understand how to deal with existing and upcoming legislation, and where possible to influence it.


Education and Training  

Education is a strategic issue for the fashion industry. Companies operating globally must be able to connect to a network of fashion educators. It is important During this Convention we will focus on the changing requirements for leading companies to find the best talent. With an emphasis on changing education practices, especially the increased use of technology that requires different skill sets and different approaches. At the same time, traditional skills crucial to producing quality must not be lost. In all cases, the industry faces a huge challenge of attracting new talent.

“Transition” is shaping the fashion industry, bringing together SME’s (Small, Medium sized enterprises), government, and regulatory environments to collaborate on new initiatives, policies, and practices.

This is a great opportunity to join leaders in the community to discuss ongoing strategies and SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals). This will help with a transition from the linear business model to the future of circularity.

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About the Author: Jeffrey Clark

A management professional with 25 years of global experience working with fortune 500 and specialty brands, specializing in lean manufacturing, product, supply chain management, procurement, sourcing, and operations. Proven proactive leadership, vision, creativity, and successful strategic business skills to drive revenue and profit growth in highly competitive domestic and global markets. A strong relationship builder functions effectively as an integral member of a cohesive senior executive team. Proven ability to source, identify and capitalize on emerging trends and niche market opportunities.