Westminster Business Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Next steps for the UK fashion industry - sustainability, ethics and growth

Morning, Tuesday, 2nd March 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference the future of the fashion industry in the UK - looking at key issues for:

  • environmental sustainability
  • ethical employment and supply chain practices
  • growth of the UK-based fashion industry and international competitiveness post-Brexit and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

The background - key developments:

  • The British Fashion Industry Calls on Government for Support - the British Fashion Council seeking funding, including for SMEs, PPE and clean growth R&D, and measures on finance, taxation and fair supply chain relationships, as the second England lockdown and restrictions in other parts of the UK continue to put pressure on fashion retailers and their partners
  • EAC revisit fashion sustainability and working conditions in UK garment industry:
    • ongoing concerns, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, about the environmental impact and conditions in garment factories have prompted the revisit
    • following the Government’s rejection of recommendations in the Environmental Audit Committee 2018 inquiry, including on producer responsibility, clothing collection and recycling, and exploitation of those working in supply chains
  • Making the UK a global leader in Sustainable Fashion - the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion calling on government to support sustainable fashion, with recommendations on sustainable fabrics, boosting recycling jobs, bringing manufacturing back to the UK and the role that government, businesses and consumers might play
  • Textiles Market Situation - the latest WRAP report on textile consumption, recycling and the market for reuse, and clothing material ending up in residential waste
  • Retailers and MPs Unite to End Labour Exploitation:
    • fashion retailers and MPs, coordinated by the BRC, calling for introduction of statutory licensing of garment factories in the UK, aimed at better protecting workers rights, fair competition for ethical businesses against those that cut corners, and encouraging retailers to source products from UK suppliers
    • the Minister for Safeguarding responds - without commitments to licencing reform, citing increased burden on compliant businesses, and pointing to increased powers and resources given to enforcement agencies, and the setting up of a multi-agency taskforce in Leicester to tackle labour exploitation
  • SCAP 2020 Commitment - clothing companies and others committing to measure, reduce and report their global impact on waste, water and carbon

Areas for discussion:

  • sustainability and minimising the impact of fashion on the environment:
    • domestic waste - incentivising and supporting consumers to recycle, and improve engagement with the circular economy including buying second hand and hiring clothes
    • plastic micro fibres - released every time synthetic garments are washed, how to reduce their into the environment, for example through capture devices, use of more sustainable fabrics
    • innovation - developments in the use of alternative fabrics, and managing the potential impact on cotton producers
  • working conditions:
    • priorities for policy, enforcement and best practice in preventing exploitation in garment factories, including instances of modern slavery
    • options for licensing schemes for garment factories
  • COVID-19 and the fashion industry:
    • impact - the way forward for the sector and its supply chains as retail is hit by closures and changing safety restrictions, and adapts to changing consumer purchasing demands and habits
    • options for government support - how the industry can most effectively engage with policymakers and assessing the measures called for by the BFC including interest-free loans, renegotiation of retail leases, legislation to protect smaller companies from cancelled orders, supporting international trade, funding for more sustainable practices within the industry
  • policy priorities - discussing what the industry needs to help create stimulus that will ensure UK fashion businesses are sustainable and remain competitive internationally, including:
    • trading agreements following the end of the transition period, marketing support and access to finance, and immigration policy that helps attract and retain skills and global talent
    • support for fair practices in supply chains and relationships
    • local and national government frameworks for underpinning environmental and financial sustainability, and growth, in the UK-based fashion industry

The agenda:

  • Priorities for UK leadership in sustainable fashion - innovation, industry responsibility and policy
  • The impact of COVID-19 on the move towards more sustainable and ethical fashion
  • Minimising the impact of fashion on the environment - waste reduction, growing the garment circular economy, and innovation in materials
  • Protecting the workforce - working conditions, combating modern slavery and exploitation, and the impact of Brexit
  • Next steps for improving labour practices in garment fashion factories
  • Supply chain transparency and options for regulation
  • The way forward for sustainable and responsible growth in the UK fashion industry

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

Overall, we expect speakers and other participants to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior officials from DCMS, BEIS, HMRC, the Department of International Trade, Defra and other relevant Departments, as well as representatives across the fashion industry, local authorities including those working in trading standards, environmental scientists, consultants and advocacy groups, trade bodies, investors, partners in the wider business community, international representatives relevant to the fashion supply chain, legal practitioners and other consultants and advisors, representatives of fashion, retail, manufacturing, academics, together with reporters from the national and trade media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Professor Dilys Williams

Director, Centre for Sustainable Fashion and Professor, Fashion Design for Sustainability, London College of Fashion

Peter Andrews

Head of Sustainability Policy, British Retail Consortium

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Textiles and Fashion

Philip Dunne MP

Chair, Environmental Audit Committee


John McNally MP

Vice Chair, All-party Parliamentary Group on Textiles and Fashion


Professor Tim Cooper

Head, Clothing Sustainability Research Group, Nottingham Trent University

Tamara Cincik

Founder & CEO, Fashion Roundtable

Trewin Restorick

CEO, Hubbub

Dr Mark Sumner

Lecturer in Fashion & Sustainability, Leeds University

Sophie Slater

Co-Founder, Birdsong

Catherine Salvidge

Sustainable Textiles Sector Specialist, WRAP

Chloe Cranston

Business & Human Rights Manager, Anti-Slavery International

Tom Kershaw

Head of Sustainability, Boohoo

Sam Eastwood

Partner, Mayer Brown

Kate Hills

Founder, Make it British