An enhanced Smart Square for the September 2018 edition, the development of a dedicated offer, and Première Vision’s new goals for sustainable fashion.
Since 2015, Première Vision has been actively engaged in promoting the new values that will be the force behind the fashions of tomorrow: responsible and ever more innovative creativity. In light of these issues, the Smart Creation information platform was born, given a tangible presence each year in the Smart Square, a dedicated area where Première Vision visitors can meet the ambassadors of responsible creation. Chantal Malingrey, Director of Marketing and Development for Première Vision, and Giusy Bettoni, Sustainability Consultant for Smart Creation, a multi-platform dedicated to the integration of ecological values in the fashion industry, are behind the project, where the beginnings of a creative revolution take hold each year.
- What is the Smart Creation platform?
Giusy Bettoni : Smart Creation is an information and communication platform launched in 2015 whose goal is to highlight the changes taking place in the industry, to help steer it towards eco-responsible fashion. Through it, Première Vision becomes the global voice for this creative evolution!
Chantal Malingrey : As our slogan says, the aim of Smart Creation is to unlock the potential of sustainable fashion, and to show that, thanks to responsible creation and production, we can stimulate both creativity and innovation. Starting as a series of conferences, the project has evolved into a physical space, so visitors can actually meet the various players engaged in responsible fashion, to develop a better understanding of their work. The aim is to communicate these new generations of values to brands and, through them, to the final customer.
- Is Smart Creation held only once a year, as part of Première Vision Paris?
Chantal Malingrey : There’s a physical Smart Creation space at our shows. At Première Vision Paris, the space is located in hall 3, but the products showcased are totally transversal, and include fabrics, accessories, leather, etc. More recently, versions of this space have also been created at Denim Première Vision and Première Vision New York, in order to address market expectations. We also organize talks at events all over the world, and throughout the year. We take part in conferences at the CFDA in New York and the Copenhagen Fashion Summit.
- And what is the Smart Square?
Chantal Malingrey : Smart Square is the tangible incarnation of the message conveyed by the Smart Creation platform, an educational and visionary space where show visitors can meet the ambassadors of sustainable and responsible fashion.
Giusy Bettoni : More than just a place to find information, it’s the starting point for a major revolution, because it takes place at Première Vision, one of the only events to bring together all the global fashion-industry players.
- What can you find there ?
Chantal Malingrey : You can meet all the exhibitors with a commitment to responsible fashion, from fibre manufacturers to textile suppliers, to certification offices. It’s definitely the ideal place to discover new materials developed around a new generation of values combining creativity, innovation and sustainability.
- What is its goal ?
Giusy Bettoni : The purpose of the Smart Square is to give exhibitors, designers, buyers and brands a place to meet. So they can exchange ideas and, above all, experience together the progress that’s been made in terms of responsible fashion, and therefore better integrate it into the creative processes of today and tomorrow.
- This is the third edition of the Smart Square. How has it evolved ?
Giusy Bettoni: To begin with, the space has doubled in size, from 500 sqm at the last edition to 1000 sqm this season! That shows that this initiative has a real role to play at Première Vision Paris, and that issues related to responsibility are indeed vital to the future of creative fashion.
Chantal Malingrey: The first editions of the Smart Square were focused on conversations around certain themes, such as overconsumption of water and pollution. Since then, we’ve conducted a tremendous amount of research with exhibitors, to identify the companies most sustainably committed in their production, dyeing, finishing and assembly processes, tracking the transportation of their raw materials … all the things that go into a responsible fashion approach. We closely studied how these companies work, from the traceability of their products to their social values. This year, we will present their work at the Smart Square, whether they are biodegradable fabrics, eco-designed leather, recyclable materials or finishing techniques. The presentation will feature samples and even finished products, to better anchor innovation in the context of creative, contemporary fashion.
- What are the highlights of this edition?
Giusy Bettoni: We’re welcoming many new players to the Smart Square. All are committed to sustainable fashion, and very enthusiastic about the idea of defending a virtuous circuit, especially through design and communication, two critical aspects we often relegate to the background when it comes to responsible fashion. Yet today, communication is absolutely essential both for brands and their customers. So experts will be at the Smart Square to provide information about more transparent communication, and train visitors to recognize the difference between an honest message with integrity, and simple marketing.
Chantal Malingrey: We’ve gained more and more experience, and we’ve had very good feedback from exhibitors and visitors at prior editions. For this year our goal is also to present more products, whether textiles or fashion items, as well as more new alternative materials. Thus, we are welcoming about thirty exhibitors presenting innovative services and materials. This new offer is right in line with market expectations! (See the list of exhibitors)
- Who is Smart Square for?
Chantal Malingrey: It is intended for the Première Vision visitors as much as for its exhibitors. The fashion industry is coming to understand the importance of engaging in responsible production, but it’s sometimes difficult to get a clear understanding of the subject as there is so much information. Smart Square wants to lend more clarity and visibility to responsible creative and production approaches, by allowing visitors and exhibitors to discuss new ways of developing and selling a product. It is vital that all the fashion players come together in these conversations, since they have to respond to the demands of today’s consumers, who are insisting on more transparency.
Giusy Bettoni: Première Vision is the only place in the world to bring together all the players in the supply chain. Here is where the discussions have to start, to find concrete solutions to the industry’s problems!
- What criteria are used to determine if a fabric, accessory or yarn is responsible?
Giusy Bettoni: The first criterion is the way the company producing it operates. What’s its background? Where and how does it produce its products? What are its responsible engagements? All these questions are crucial. Then it’s about studying the product itself: where it came from, how it was made or processed, and at what cost. If a company says it sells an environmentally friendly product, it must be able to prove it, notably through certifications and officially recognised designations.
Chantal Malingrey: The finished product is just as important as its design. Fabric or material based on transparency values can be considered responsible. The producer must be able to set out the entire production chain down to the smallest detail: the origin of the raw materials, breeding traceability when it comes to wool, the means of transportation, the types of treatments the products are subject to, etc.
- We speak a lot about responsible fashion, and industry initiatives are growing. How do you see the scope of it developing?
Chantal Malingrey: In the next decade or so, eco-responsibility will no longer be just a topic, but a value fully integrated into the creative process. Some large luxury groups are already moving in this direction, and the reverberation of that throughout the entire production chain is sure to be quite strong. These newly generated values will motivate the market, and logically, the textile R&D sector will move in the same direction. It remains to be hoped that mass distribution will follow, which is not enough the case today.
Giusy Bettoni : As with all major changes, it will take time. I think the next big area to invest in is communication. It’s not enough to say a fabric is organic or recycled, it’s about being able to explain why, being able to trace its entire production chain. Brands, especially luxury brands, are still reluctant to communicate their sustainability commitments. They must understand that their role in advancing the industry is absolutely critical, because their voices have the power of resonating. They have to set an example.
- What are the business advantages for the upstream fashion sector?
Chantal Malingrey: Committing to responsible creation is an investment in the future, as consumers increasingly view it as a fundamental value in a purchase. Brands must also understand, and this is the goal of Smart Creation, that a responsible product loses no creative value, in fact it’s quite the opposite. For example, the new denim washing processes, which mitigate the use of chemicals by focusing on ozone and lasers, give an absolutely identical result, without the pollution.
- How can responsible textiles and accessories create added value in terms of style?
Chantal Malingrey: The many new generation textiles presented on the Smart Square are all new stylistic possibilities that push the creative envelope. They offer new textures, new ways of treating colour or volume, and they expand the range of possibilities. Plant leathers, for example, now offer more ways of being exploited than traditional leather!
- How can they increase a brand’s appeal?
Giusy Bettoni: Young brands launching today have already integrated eco-responsibility as an integral part of the creative process, because they know that these values are increasingly important to consumers. They’re instantly more appealing! As for the more traditional brands, who are reviewing their supply chain to engage in a responsible approach, they too are respected by customers, who can only welcome such a commitment. A brand that can’t adapt in coming years has very little chance of holding on to its appeal when faced with a new generation of designers. Responsible fashion is not a trend, it is the future of the textile industry!
- What’s your favourite Smart Material right now?
Chantal Malingrey: I have to say I find Olivenleder leather tanned with olives particularly interesting. The leather industry is often under attack, particularly with regard to chrome tanning, and this type of innovation can contribute in a major way.
Giusy Bettoni: It’s very hard to choose, as this edition has really interesting innovations. My greatest pride is that customers now have an impressive choice of responsible materials, and can commit to responsible fashion without sacrificing design and aesthetics.