A trade show is often a place to make deals and talk about money. But Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) in London is trying to change the common narrative. This is also a summit where its business leaders come to build a better future, focusing on sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion, spotlighting new and diverse brands and voices to drive meaningful change.
This year, the event played host to a series of sessions highlighting some of the best practices from brand licensing leaders, with a special focus on the world of fashion.
Helena Mansell-Stopher, one of the entrepreneurs and the founder of Products of Change offered onsite guidance 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 $300bn, meaning its impact is huge,” said Helena. “But its scale means it’s an industry filled with opportunity, not only in the product it is responsible for, but in driving positive societal change through the brands it represents.
That’s why we are proud to drive awareness of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the amazing cross-sector work already being achieved by showcasing it as an exemplar of the good that can be done here at Brand Licensing Europe.”
The United Nations is on a mission to promote the 17 Sustainable Development Goals across sectors by inviting visionary business leaders and civil society to join the sustainable journey. Caroline Petit, Deputy Director from the United Nations Regional Information Centre, delivered a keynote speech geared to encourage positive action across business, before welcoming to the stage the Irish youth design and education movement, Junk Kouture for an innovative catwalk.
A showcase of young design talent from students aged 13 to 18, Junk Kouture empowers youth at a school level to embrace the principle of sustainable living by creating apparel and couture from recycled materials.
Four students took to the runway wearing their own creations made from 100 per cent recycled materials, including bread packaging, bailing twine, plastic bottles, and even disposable shoe covers.
“We aim to drive change through youth creative expression and delivering against six of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals across a range of activities led by the world’s youth – the ‘circular engineers of tomorrow.’” said Katie Brill, SVP of PR and Communications at Junk Kouture.
There are many ways in which the licensing industry can engage with the United Nations. 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 on gender , or to generating quality educational content and products such as books, toys, or television shows.
“Governments have a strong responsibility to act, but industry and individuals can – and should – also be catalysts to transform the way products are manufactured, produced, distributed, and consumed,” said Ms Petit.
Already, more than 8 million actions have been recorded by individuals using the United Nations sustainable action engagement tool, the ActNow App. At the same time, industry leaders are being urged to join the race to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and turn the current crisis into business opportunities.
“Sustainability is not a limitation to fashion, it is rather a trigger to bring more passion and real creativity into this industry,” concluded Ms Petit.