The seminar was lead by local talent Tullia Jack, who founded The Spirit of the Black Dress and is now a freelance writer for Fairfax Media, while she completes her studies at the University of Melbourne. The morning featured Mike Barry (Marks & Spencer) via live video link from the UK and Melbourian denim master, John Condilis (Nobody).
Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business at Marks & Spencer, spoke to us about the plans M&S have in place (Plan A) in working with their customers and suppliers to combat climate change, reduce waste, use sustainable raw materials, trade ethically, and help their customers to lead healthier lifestyles. He revealed many insightful facts and stories, including:
• M&S produce 350 million items of clothing a year;
• M&S are working with other businesses, such as H&M, to improve cotton production and ensure source reliability;
• In years gone by, M&S would give away around 200 million coat hangers annually with clothing sales. By changing tactics and keeping the hangers, they now re-uing up to 150 million of these said hangers each year;
• The latest info on the M&S carbon neutral bra, which helps support the reforestation of the Sri Lankan rainforest.
John Condilis, Managing Director at Nobody denim, had a more local approach to share with us. The Nobody business model revolves around local craftsmanship and in-house manufacturing, and John was open in sharing that this process is reflected within their retail environments and is a focus for staff to demonstrate the ‘nothing to hide’ attitude. John has also been involved in setting up The Social Studio, a non-profit organisation offering education and training to refugees in clothing design, manufacturing and retail.
Another great seminar presented by the Victorian Government and City of Melbourne. If you are interested, you can also read my wrap up posts on the other two MSFW business series events for 2011: Talk the Talk and When the Market Gets Tough, the Smart Get Creative.