SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica — Non-profit sustainability organisation Omina — founded by Andrea Somma and Carmen Busquets in 2017 — has partnered with consultancy firm Eco-Age to host Omina2018, a sustainability summit that will bring together leaders in fashion and environmentalism to exchange research and ideas. The conference also looks to inspire action within the fashion industry — which, second only to oil, is one of the world's most polluting sectors.
Hosted in San José, Costa Rica, the industry-facing conference will run from June 7 to 9, 2018, and will also be broadcast online for the public to watch.
Gisele Bündchen, the model and UN environment programme ambassador, as well as Elle US editor-in-chief Nina Garcia, are confirmed to speak at the three-day event alongside Paul Hawken, author of climate change manifesto "Drawdown." Latin American sustainability leader Oskar Metsavaht, and Spanish social entrepreneur Carmen Hijosa are also scheduled, with more speaker announcements to follow. "I saw the opportunity to to bring together a group of inspiring people," said Busquets, who, in addition to her entrepreneurial work, is a member of the WWF National Council.
Certainly, sustainability has been a much-discussed topic in the industry for years. "We haven't seen enough movement in the fashion industry," said Livia Firth, founder of Eco-Age and chairman of the Omina advisory committee. "We have seen some piecemeal actions and marketing plans, but little in the way of decisive, committed change." This is something she, Busquets and Somma hope the summit will address.
While Omina has the support of some major players in Latin and South America, representatives for big fashion brands are currently lacking from the line-up, something that has been integral to action at similar summits in the past. During last year's Copenhagen fashion summit, brands and retailers were called upon to publicly commit to making progress toward the adoption of a circular model over the following six months, something companies including Adidas, Asos, H&M and Kering did. Similarly, at Hong Kong-based Planet Textiles, past delegates have included Wal-Mart, Nike, Levi Strauss and PVH.
Nevertheless, Firth is confident the summit will help align "our industry with a global manifesto for change." And while panel discussions and topics are yet to be confirmed, Firth notes that making the concept of sustainability more accessible is high on the agenda. "The current lexicon is not fit for purpose and many people feel alienated or confused by it," she said, explaining that using negative terms, such as "de-carbonising," suggests "change that is always about settling for less. The summit gives us the opportunity to do several things — including crowdsourcing new, inclusive and more dynamic language."