A fair is often a place to make deals and talk about money. But Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) in London is trying to change the usual narrative. This is also a summit where business leaders come to build a better future, focusing on sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion, and spotlighting new and diverse brands and voices to drive meaningful change.
This year, the event hosted a series of sessions highlighting some of the best practices from brand licensing leaders, with a particular focus on the world of fashion.
Helena Mansell-Stopher, co-founder and founder of Products of Change, offered on-site mentoring and networking opportunities to deepen the sustainability conversation across the licensing industry:
“The brand and lifestyle licensing industry has a global retail value of over $300 billion, which means the impact is huge,” said Helena. “But its scale means it’s an industry filled with opportunity, not just in terms of the product it’s responsible for, but in terms of driving positive societal change through the brands it represents.
That’s why we’re proud to raise awareness of the 17 SDGs and the fantastic cross-sector work already being achieved by showcasing it as an example of the good that can be done here at Brand Licensing Europe.”
The UN is on a mission to advance the 17 Sustainable Development Goals across sectors by inviting visionary business leaders and civil society to join the sustainable journey. Caroline Petit, Vice President of the UN Regional Information Centre, gave a keynote address aimed at encouraging positive action across business, before welcoming Irish youth design and education movement Junk Kouture to the stage for an innovative catwalk.
A showcase for young design talent from students aged 13 to 18, Junk Kouture empowers youth at school level to embrace the principle of sustainable living by creating clothing and couture from recycled materials.
Four students walked the runway wearing their own creations made from 100 percent recycled materials, including bread packaging, twine, plastic bottles and even disposable shoe covers.
“We aim to drive change through creative youth expression and to deliver towards six of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals across a range of activities led by the world’s youth – tomorrow’s circular engineers.” said Katie Brill, SVP of public relations. and communication at Junk Kouture.
There are many ways in which the licensing industry can cooperate with the UN. A number have already joined the UN Global Compact, the SDG Media Compact or the SDG Publishers Compact, while others are committed to removing harmful stereotypes about gender, or to generating high-quality educational content and products such as books, toys or TV programs .
“Governments have a strong responsibility to act, but industry and individuals can – and should – also be catalysts to transform the way products are produced, manufactured, distributed and consumed,” Petit said.
Already, more than 8 million actions have been recorded by individuals using the UN’s tool for sustainable action engagement, the ActNow app. At the same time, industry leaders are encouraged to join the race to achieve the sustainability goals and turn the current crisis into business opportunities.
“Sustainability is not a limitation of fashion, rather it is a trigger to bring more passion and real creativity into this industry,” concluded Petit.