Prince Charles’ SMI Fashion Task Force Ready to Scale the Himalayas – WWD

LONDON – Federico Marchetti and Prince Charles’ SMI Fashion Task Force are headed to the Himalayas in the first phase of a long-term, green fashion project that’s set to be unveiled Wednesday.

Marchetti is chair of the SMI Fashion Task Force, part of the prince’s Sustainable Markets Initiative, which he launched during the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2020.

On Wednesday, SMI Fashion Task Force will unveil its new Regenerative Fashion Manifesto, which has been developed in partnership with the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance, another group founded by Prince Charles, and led by the scientist Marc Palahí.

The Regenerative Fashion Manifesto is a commitment to placing the fashion industry on a more “regenerative path,” and will kick off with a 1 million euro investment program in the Himalayas to restore wildlife and sustainable farming to what has become an overworked and degraded landscape.

The SMI Fashion Task Force said it is committed to being “leaders and exemplars” to the global fashion, textile and apparel sectors, working to accelerate the transition toward a more sustainable future.

The investment in the Himalayas regeneration project is just the beginning, with more regions around the world set to receive funds in the coming months and years, according to Marchetti.

Environmental regeneration and restoration projects have become top priorities for fashion and luxury companies ranging from Stella McCartney to De Beers. They are taking an ever closer look at soil conservation, ecosystems, and farming methods as they seek to improve the health and sustainability of the industry’s entire value chain.

In an interview, Marchetti said the SMI Fashion Task Force – which has 15 members including Giorgio Armani, Stella McCartney, Burberry, Zalando and Selfridges Group – will look to mitigate or reverse the impact of overfarming, overgrazing, dwindling water supplies and the long- term use of damaging pesticides in various regions.

Their focus will be on regenerating land and resources in places where fashion companies and retailers source their raw materials. The task force will also look to foster artisanal skills and craftsmanship, too, in the various communities where it plans to invest.

Marchetti said in a telephone interview that the members of the SMI Fashion Task Force have been working as a team to find ways of making the fashion value chain greener.

“The CEOs have been super helpful, open, collaborative and willing to share their knowledge, which is something that doesn’t always happen in the fashion industry,” he said.

Stella McCartney and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales in Cornwall during the G7 Summit.
Courtesy of Stella McCartney

The Himalayan Regenerative Fashion Living Lab is the first project developed according to the principles and ambitions of the new manifesto, according to Marchetti.

The project wants to demonstrate “the potential of regenerative fashion to restore harmony between local communities, nature and the environment while creating sustainable fashion value chains.”

The Himalayan initiative will aim to restore degraded landscapes and recover traditional textile craft skills in order to enhance the local cashmere, cotton and silk economies while addressing climate change and biodiversity loss.

Work on the project will begin next month with help on the ground from Reforest Action and the Balipara Foundation.

During the interview, Marchetti said the degradation of the landscape in the region was due to too many goats grazing for long periods of time, deforestation, and the excessive use of fertilizer and herbicides.

He said more details will be revealed in May about where, exactly, the funding will go and the specific initiatives in the area.

Going forward, Marchetti said that SMI Fashion Task Force projects will extend to “all different areas of the world” where soil needs to be regenerated and where the lakes have been emptied due to too much cotton production.

He said that the Task Force is also “using technology, and thinking about how to make organic textiles from materials such as fast-growing bamboo.”

Marchetti said that Prince Charles’ mandate for this project, and others, is “action, not words,” adding that the royal is very much involved with the task force.

“He really cares and there is a constant communication regarding the progress we are making, about the next steps. He is pushing us, which is great. We are all very enthusiastic about the changes in the fashion industry and we all know that these changes are needed, ”Marchetti said.

Marchetti noted that Prince Charles made his first public speech about safeguarding the environment in 1970 and is “passionate” about his green projects.

Charles picked up his father’s passion for the environment and passed it down to his own children

Prince Philip was the first president of the World Wildlife Fund UK from its foundation in 1961 to 1982, and president of WWF-International from 1981 to 1996. At the time of his death last year, he was president emeritus of WWF.

In her Christmas Day address, Queen Elizabeth said she was proud that both Charles and Prince William had inherited her late husband’s passion for conservation.

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani
Stefano Guindani- image courtesy of Giorgio Armani

The Prince of Wales has long been a green campaigner, gathering some of the world’s most powerful chief executive officers to meet world leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall, England, in 2021. He set up the SMI to encourage economies to operate “in favor of people and planet. ”

Prince William, meanwhile, founded the Earthshot Prize, which is awarded by the Royal Foundation to five winners each year for their contributions to environmentalism. Each winner receives a grant of 1 million pounds to continue their environmental work.

Marchetti described the upcoming manifesto as “another concrete step toward creating a much more sustainable fashion industry. It is not simply empty words. This [Himalayan] project will serve as a blueprint for what can be done to shift the fashion industry towards a more equitable, nature positive future. ”

Marc Palahí, director of the European Forest Institute and chair of the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance, said the partnership between the SMI Fashion Task Force and the CBA provides fashion brands “with a unique platform for transformative and sustainable action, connecting the dots between landscapes and closets to transition toward regenerative value chains that support biodiversity and local livelihoods while mitigating climate change.”

The SMI Task Force defines regenerative landscapes as “resilient, biodiversity-rich and deforestation-free. They produce a diversity of goods and services such as food, energy and biomaterials, as well as ecosystem services including carbon sequestration. Such regenerative practices empower local and indigenous communities, support their prosperity and respect their ancestral rights, ”according to the body.

The Regenerative Fashion Manifesto is the second significant action taken by the Fashion Task Force in the past six months and follows the launch of a Digital ID system last October at the G20 summit in Rome.

The Digital ID uses data to inform customers of the sustainability credentials of their clothing purchases, “and to facilitate the delivery of circularity at scale.” It also unlocks new circular services for customers, such as care and repair services, as well as ones focused on resale and recycling.

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