How to steer the world of fashion towards a more sustainable future? It takes a visionary like Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of CPHFW, to get us going. Fashion week allows designers present their newest collections to the world, but followed by a toxic footprint that the manufacturing process leaves behind.
At By Babba X Bumble’s Career Day in February, a panel discussion on sustainability was held, and women of different areas of the fashion industry, including CEO Cecilie Thorsmark, came together. The CEO’s thoughts on fashion week did not sugarcoat the real effects it has on the world, and we appreciated that. We sat down with Cecilie, to talk about her background in fashion, her opinions on sustainability, and the sustainability action plan that Copenhagen Fashion Week is looking to launch by 2023.
Cecilie, wouldn‘t the planet be better off without fashion week?
It is completely justified that people should ask that question. In conclusion, I agree and as a result, in short, I went for the position as CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week.
CPHFW 2020 started in February with a press conference, where Cecilie and her team introduced a new sustainability action plan, that focuses on the reduction of the week’s climate impact by 50%, having zero waste from the shows by 2022, and therefore making the event fully sustainable by the year 2023.
For a brand to be eligible and apply to show/present at Copenhagen Fashion Week, they must receive a certain score and meet of the 17 minimum standards for sustainability. Some examples are strategic direction, material choices, and worker conditions. Cecilie recommends to get familiar with the sustainability plan ASAP in order to spread this message! Most important, “This is something we are doing for the industry and not against the industry.”
What are your thoughts on this past fashion week?
I think it was successful, and we are experiencing brands using the platform for sustainability more and more.
If you look at fashion weeks, they are being a little bit too ignorant in the context of sustainability, and they are not taking advantage of the platform that they have to drive the industry in a better direction. We need to be rethinking our role in the fashion industry!
How was the response from designers and brands towards CPHFW‘s new sustainability plan?
I have only received a positive response! If we would have announced this three years ago, I don‘t think people would have taken as well to it. I think the industry knows that it needs to take action now. The sustainability plan does not clash with the designer‘s ambitions, and I hope that the brands will be able to reach the sustainability requirements. We are at risk of losing brands, although it will pay off in the long run!
How did you become the CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week, and what is your background?
First of all, I graduated from Copenhagen Business School in 2009, and with my degree in Marketing Communication Management, I joined the Danish Fashion Institute. The company was the organiser of fashion week when I wrote my masters on CPHFW. After that, I became the Head of Communication for the Danish Fashion Institute and CPHFW. The Danish Fashion Institute decided to say goodbye to CPHFW and became a separate company, and turned into the ‘Global Fashion Agenda’ and the organiser of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit.
From 2016 to 2018 I worked with the Copenhagen Fashion Summit and the Global Fashion Agenda as their Communications Director – I focused on sustainability, as you can probably tell. After two years of an outsider’s perspective on CPHFW, it made me to think, ‘finally something needs to be done’. I was looking at all of the fashion weeks thinking, why aren‘t they focusing on sustainability? In 2018, I finally got the position as CEO of CPHFW.
“I dream that CPHFW will become home to the brands that are the best in their class – above all in design and sustainability. In other words, that is what I want CPHFW to stand for”.
Where do you think your interest in fashion comes from?
It is always fun to analyse what has shaped you. Almost all of my family members are creative, except for my parents, who chose the academic route.
My grandfathers and uncles were furniture designers, architects or ballet dancers, and my grandmother was a seamstress – another family member, my aunt, was a costume designer for instance. So I have always been surrounded by aesthetics and creativity. My father worked in the Ministry for the Environment, so I surrounded by fashion, business, and a sense of sustainability. It is good to have people around that are like-minded!
What is your favourite part about fashion week?
I love seeing a brand showcase their inspiration, and bring everything togetheer – the clothes, venue, models and styling – I am so privileged to witness this every season! In other words, I am interested in expressing fashion artistically, above all, that is the beauty of fashion week. We also now have to make sure we celebrate brands who are progressing their ideas visually and sustainably, and showcasing the values of a creative Scandinavian business.
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Tags: Cecilie Thorsmark, Copenhagen Fashion Week, cphfw, fashion week, sustainable fashion
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