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Jul 13, 2023
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CNMI teases upcoming Sustainable Fashion Awards in New York

Jul 13, 2023

Downtown Manhattan on a steamy summer day seems eons away from the bustle of Milan Fashion Week, which takes place yearly in September and February. Despite that, Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, aka CNMI Chairman Carlo Capasa, was present in New York to promote this year's upcoming Sustainable Fashion Awards that will round out MFW on September 24.

The fashion organization executive and co-founder of Costume National held a luncheon at Casa Cipriani—in keeping with the Italian mood—to announce the three nominees for Emerging Designers, an award sponsored by the Bicester Collection, a Value Retail company and partner of the awards since its inception. The Manhattan CNMI event was held in collaboration with the United Nations Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) with support from the Municipality of Milan.

Maria Sole Ferragamo of So-Le Studio - So-Le Studio

Capasa explained the reasoning behind the advance announcement of the nominees in the emerging categories.

"It's a prize for new and emerging designers, and they are in the middle of these big brands and celebrities on stage at the awards. We don't give enough space for what those young designers deserve, so we introduce them now so the industry can get to know them," he told the audience of New York-based press and brand representatives in between courses.

Three videos introduced by Capasa revealed the nominees for the Sustainable Fashion Awards Emerging Designer award in order; Maria Sole Ferragamo for her upcycled jewelry brand, So-Le Studio; Eileen Akbaraly for her raffia-centric accessories brand Made For A Woman; and Priya Ahluwalia of Ahluwalia, the upcycled, recycled and deadstock brand that draws upon the designer's Indian-Nigerian heritage and London influence.
Desiree Bollier, chair of Value Retail Management and chief merchant of Value Retail addressed the crowd via a pre-taped video where she attended a separate sustainability conference. She explained what's in store for the next crop by noting last year's nominees of the award they sponsor—Nkwo Onwuka, Themoirè, and Torlowei—have been featured at The Creative Spot, within the discounted retailer's luxury shopping villages globally.

Eileen Akbaraly of Made For A Woman - Made For A Woman

The retailers opted out of the nomination process, instead handing it over to The Ellen Macarthur Foundation, which will chair the jury of eleven stakeholders: Andrew Morlet, chair of the jury, CEO Ellen MacArthur Foundation; Carlo Capasa, chairman Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana; Simone Cipriani, head and founder of the Ethical Fashion Initiative at the International Trade Centre, chairperson of the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion; Roberta Annan, managing partner, Impact fund For African Creatives & Annan Capital Partners; Teneshia Carr, CEO of Blanc Media Inc. and editor-in-chief of Blanc Magazine; Paola Deda, director forests, land and housing division, United Nations; Kerry Kennedy, president Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights; Federica Marchionni, CEO Global Fashion Agenda; Samata Pattinson, cultural sustainability pioneer, writer, and producer; Michelangelo Pistoletto, artist; and Teddy Quinlivan, model, and activist.
The foundation also sponsors The Ellen MacArthur Foundation Award for Circular Economy, now in its second year at the Sustainable Fashion Awards. This is the sixth edition of the awards, which will present ten awards at Milan's La Scala theater.  
Capasa has become a leading voice and advocate for the fashion industry's sustainability journey and noted that attitudes have evolved greatly since the awards were initiated in 2017.

"At this time, designers didn't want to use sustainable fabrics because they wanted 'beautiful fabrics,' said the CNMI chairman, adding with a quip, "Sustainable fashion then was a monk's robe and sandals."

He cited success stories such as 92 percent of Italian manufacturers adhering to the safety guidelines for chemical use in fabric production. He shared his enthusiasm for new technologies that can duplicate leather cells to grow a new fabric or recycled CO2 used in generating new materials instead of water.
He didn't shy away, though, from some of the hurdles the industry still needs to take, such as solutions for the need for affordable clothing in the face of the maligned but necessary fast fashion industry or the inability to fully control or enforce what raw material producers are doing in other countries where local governments aren't prioritizing sustainable methods of manufacturing.
He also acknowledged rallying for the textile industry in the face of global policies requiring the majority of all textiles to be made out of recycled materials by the year 2030. Capasa recalled speaking at the Copenhagen Global Fashion Summit the week prior, pointing out that biodegradable fibers can't withstand this process indefinitely. "After 3 or 4 times, you can't continue to reuse silk or wool," he pointed out.

Priya Ahluwalia of Ahluwalia - Ahluwalia

The fashion industry faces a long road ahead in unearning its pollutant status and recognizing the brands and key players who have made significant strides in that direction, such as the awards do, is a positive step. But much like the plastics recycling conundrum, the real solution is to stop making them, period. For a business that is based on selling for both practical and vanity-related reasons, this is easier said than done.

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