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Can Fashion Be Profitable Without Growth?


This text is an element of our special section on the DealBook Summit that included business and policy leaders from world wide.

Moderator: Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic, The Recent York Times. Participants: Preeti Arya, professor, textile development, Fashion Institute of Technology; Maxine Bédat, executive director, Recent Standard Institute; Caroline Brown, managing director, Closed Loop Partners; Laurent Claquin, chief executive, Kering Americas; Gabriela Hearst, creative director, Gabriela Hearst and Chloé; Wisdom Kaye, IMG Models; Tracy Reese, founder and inventive director, Hope for Flowers; Céline Semaan, co-founder and executive director, Slow Factory; Erez Yoeli, research scientist, M.I.T. Sloan School of Management.

Producing too many clothes isn’t any longer a very good look. That was the conclusion of a task force of fashion industry forces who gathered last week on the DealBook Summit in Recent York City.

The group was asked by Vanessa Friedman, The Recent York Times fashion director and chief fashion critic, who moderated the discussion, to tackle the oxymoron of sustainable fashion.

“At this point, it’s not concerning the chemicals,” Ms. Friedman said. “It’s concerning the sheer amount of stuff that we produce, that we buy and that we waste.”

The experts, whose work touches upon several points of the industry, agreed: Things must change, and it isn’t any longer possible to attend to see who will step up to guide the transformation. Every a part of the chain must participate, from investors to designers to consumers, said Ms. Friedman. And education, laws and an evolution of the business model away from double-digit growth are essential.

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