The importance of sustainable fashion for His Royal Highness

Editorial Feature

By Google Arts & Culture

The Prince of Wales with Steve Rowe and David Gandy at Dumfries House (9 September 2016) by Clarence HouseDumfries House Estate

Caroline Rush on The Prince of Wales’ commitment to sustainability

Caroline Rush’s role as Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council is to promote the British fashion industry by supporting emerging talent and championing diversity and sustainability. A renewed awareness of these global issues has meant the industry has taken on more responsibility in solving these problems. For the British Fashion Council, this has led to the creation of the Positive Fashion initiative, which launched in May 2018.

Positive Fashion is a platform designed to celebrate industry best practice and encourage future business decisions to create positive change. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has been a champion of the initiative since its launch and his support sits in line with his other work in relation to sustainable fashion, as well as the emphasis he’s placed on British craftsmanship over the years. Here Rush discusses the value of His Royal Highness’ involvement and his work for other causes.

Can you describe HRH The Prince of Wales’ commitment to sustainable fashion?

HRH The Prince of Wales has long been a pioneer for change and an advocate for sustainability, through his own personal commitment and campaigning, alongside the projects that he supports.

Commitments impacting fashion include The Campaign for Wool, founded by His Royal Highness to encourage ecologically responsible fashion, which prioritises natural fibres and has a low carbon footprint. In 2018, HRH The Prince of Wales created the Sustainable Cotton Communiqué 2025 with The Prince's International Sustainability Unit (ISU) in collaboration with Marks & Spencer and The Soil Association. It consists of an international group of 13 of the world’s most renowned clothing and textile companies collectively committing to ensuring 100% of their cotton usage comes from sustainable sources by 2025. Big brands involved include ASOS, EILEEN FISHER, Greenfibres, H&M, IKEA, Kering, Levi Strauss & Co., Lindex, Marks & Spencer, Nike, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Woolworths Holdings, who together use in excess of 300,000 tonnes of cotton annually.

Furthermore we were thrilled when in May this year, HRH The Prince of Wales supported the British Fashion Council’s Positive Fashion initiative, meeting with British designers and fashion businesses who are dedicated to sustainability and championing positive change for the future of the fashion industry, at the brand new White City House in London.

The Prince of Wales with Steve Rowe and David Gandy at Dumfries House (From the collection of Dumfries House Estate)

What impact has his support for the Positive Fashion Initiative had?

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have long been supporters of sustainability, wool, and local manufacturing. At the British Fashion Council we are honoured that his interest in our Positive Fashion initiative shines a light on the great work being done by individuals and businesses in fashion.

His Royal Highness has spent time in the company of Bethany Williams, Mother of Pearl, and Teatum Jones, dynamic British businesses discussing material innovation, the circular economy, craftsmanship, and community. His visit was part of the British Fashion Council’s Positive Fashion initiative, a platform designed to use the power of collective influence to gather thought leadership, celebrate industry best practice, and encourage future business decisions to create positive change.

Through three strategic pillars, Positive Fashion focuses on Sustainability, referring to social, environmental, and business governance to drive a more sustainable fashion future; Equality and Diversity, representing the people from the product makers to the staff, students, and models who pioneer British brands and local manufacturing; and Craftsmanship and Community, referencing the community of talent, skills, and craftsmanship that supports the fashion sector, which contributes £32.2 billion in GDP to the UK economy and supports 890,000 jobs.

The Prince of Wales visits Bute Fabrics (24 June 2016) by Clarence HouseClarence House

The Prince of Wales visits Bute Fabrics on the Isle of Bute, Scotland (From the collection of Clarence House)

Can you describe His Royal Highness’ work for the Campaign for Wool initiative?

The Campaign for Wool is a global endeavour initiated by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales in order to raise awareness among consumers about the unique, natural, renewable, and biodegradable benefits offered by wool. The project is designed to encourage collaboration between woolgrowers, fashion designers, retailers, manufacturers, artisans, and interior designers, and the campaign has been instrumental in educating consumers about the versatility of wool, reconnecting them with its myriad uses and sustainable properties.

Since its launch in 2010, The Campaign for Wool has influenced a new demand for wool on an international scale, and its efforts have seen an outstanding threefold increase in the price farmers receive for their wool, creating value for a responsibly sourced product while driving businesses revenue for British suppliers.

What is the value of HRH supporting these kinds of causes for the fashion industry?

The value of HRH The Prince Wales’ support for fashion, sustainability, and a circular economy and his work with global brands and initiatives opens up a conversation with a diverse range of consumers to drive forward best practice, transparency, and business corporate social responsibility commitments.

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