Avery Dennison – CFS+ 2021 Session – blog

Key takeaways from CFS+ 2021

Key takeaways from CFS+ 2021

Apparel industry professionals globally connected for CFS+ 2021 on 7th and 8th October, the online forum on sustainability in fashion.

As principal sponsor, Avery Dennison participated extensively, sharing our insights into the practical side of making sustainability fashion’s first priority.

The fashion industry sells glamour and style. But it’s also passionately committed to change, urgently needed in the era of climate crisis. 

Under the headline theme of ‘Prosperity vs Growth’, CFS+ 2021 presented its global audience with illuminating viewpoints from sixty high level speakers, in panels, keynotes, case studies and one-to-one conversations, all exploring how the industry can thrive today, in favour of tomorrow. 

Prominent guest speakers included Tommy Hilfiger, Principal Designer at Tommy Hilfiger Global, Yara Shahidi the model and change agent, and Patrice Louvet, President and CEO of Ralph Lauren Corporation. Topics included ‘Innovation vs Legacy’,’ Scale vs Circular’, and ‘Equity vs Equality’.

Here’s a summary of the top-line learnings:


CFS+ 2021 aimed to inspire innovation, seeking ways for fashion to prosper. From the offset we heard pleas for more action to design sustainable products, cut carbon and waste from the fashion supply chain, and for all industry stakeholders to truly design-in circularity to address climate change. 

One example of progress in the design stage is Avery Dennison’s partnership with Browzwear, a pioneer of 3D digital solutions for the fashion industry, enabling apparel designers to preview branding and material choices at the beginning of the design process, which will greatly reduce material waste. The technology moves branding and embellishments on garments — typically a late-stage process — to the forefront of the workflow, meaningless samples are physically produced and disposed of as decisions are confirmed earlier in the process. 

Avery Dennison is integrating a library of materials and fabrics into the Browzwear suite, enhancing the design experience and accelerating timelines by providing true visual renderings of how its apparel labelling solutions will appear.

Speakers in the ‘Value vs Volume’ and ‘Digital vs Physical’ sessions explored practical possibilities of designing apparel with circularity in mind and committing to a manufacturing and retail future that would reduce mass consumption. On-demand production, leasing, re-commerce, upcycling and other new business models were highlighted as offering a great opportunity to cut waste and capture value from already existing products. However, it was noted that infrastructure, scale and digital connectivity are needed to accelerate change and encourage faster adoption of new technologies across the value chain.


Legislation, education and pace

Calls for more education for consumers, and legislation that will help the industry hit ambitious carbon reduction targets were heard repeatedly during the event. Holly Syrett, Senior Sustainability Manager at Global Fashion Agenda stated, “fashion is on track to miss its 2030 emissions reduction targets by a shocking 50%”, leading to accelerated global warming. Consumer behaviour must change on a grand scale, and that will take a massive industrywide investment in communication. 

Sandra Capponi, Co-founder of Good On You, agreed that transparency will make brands accountable, by showing consumers what they are buying into, but she warned against greenwashing. “There’s a case for rigorous, independent ratings. Industry standards will make the difference. It’s not just capsule ranges, but being accountable across all products and supply chain elements.”



It was heartening to hear how technology is being developed to enable circularity and manage ‘second life’ stages. The Development vs Degrowth session focused attention on circular business models, particularly the resell market and the future role of fashion brands in a closed-loop economy. The Futures vs Foresight looked into new ideas such as gamification and digital-only couture, which in the case of Thefaricant.com is created solely to be traded in virtual realities. 

Digital solutions that facilitate circularity were discussed in depth. In the Clarity vs Circularity session Halide Alagöz, Chief Product and Sustainability Officer at Ralph Lauren spoke of the brand’s efforts to help inform customers, using digital product IDs to connect garments with their owners. Debbie Shakespeare, Senior Director Sustainability at Avery Dennison shared how 70% of consumers are more likely to interact with QR codes since the pandemic, according to new research Avery Dennison carried out with GWI. “Retailers have seen first-hand during the Covid pandemic, how consumers can quickly embrace digital connection points if tailored to their needs. This paves the way for new behaviours around sustainability,” she said.

At Avery Dennison, our digitally connected labels enable brands to clearly inform consumers of the end-of-life recycling options for items they no longer need, and cannot resell or re-use. These scannable QR codes also provide information to recyclers about the material content of garments for safe and efficient processing. Our research, shared during CFS+ 2021, found that, across the global markets we surveyed, 62% of people said brands and retailers should be making end-of-life options accessible for their products, with 58% saying fashion brands should help consumers repair items, and 57% saying brands should help consumers resell items.



Globally, an estimated 92 million tonnes of textile waste is created each year and the equivalent of a rubbish truck full of clothes ends up on landfill sites every second. By 2030, global consumers are expected to be discarding more than 134 million tonnes of textiles a year

Designers and brand owners spoke passionately of their desire to help consumers recycle and reuse their garments. 

Not surprisingly, scaling up recycling facilities was high on the agenda at CFS+ this year, with a fascinating case study on the $750 million investment in recycling in Bangladesh as identified in the Circular Fashion Partnership project led by Global Fashion Agenda.


Diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion was repeatedly discussed at CFS+ 2021. Experts covered how leaders and sustainability or ‘culture’ teams must come from diverse backgrounds to be sure the industry will successfully adopt ethics-driven practices and find new ideas to beat climate change. 

The notion was that businesses need a diverse group of people having a voice in big decision-making at large corporations, to be sure of a future that is inclusive. Felicia Mayo, Chief Talent, Diversity & Culture Officer at Nike and Dr. Ayana Johnson, Co-founder of Urban Ocean Lab took part in the Equity vs Equality panel. Here they discussed the importance of ensuring there is diversity internally, but also inclusion in the ways innovations are discovered and acted upon. Both agreed it is vital to respect and value the viewpoints of everyone in the organisation, in order to find systemic solutions to fashion’s sustainability challenge.



Throughout the event, many panellists touched on the influence company leaders have over so many people around the world. It’s clear that global giants like Nike are stepping up to this responsibility, acknowledging they must be the leaders of change. These people will follow their influence. 

Leaders are recognising they must bridge the gap between stakeholder expectations, and running a profitable business, and this was discussed in the Expectations vs Ethics panel to great effect. It was noted that, not only are the expectations constantly evolving, but sometimes they are pulling the industry in opposite directions. So, leaders need to create prosperity for not only shareholders but also the employees in the value cycle while “working within planetary boundaries”.



The urgent need for more collaboration came through loud and clear throughout the event. “In order for our planet to thrive, we must continue to address people and planet, together,” said Felicia Mayo, Chief Talent, Diversity and Culture Officer at Nike. 

The Partnership vs Ownership session covered how US lifestyle brand UpWest, reuse operator ReCircled and Avery Dennison collaborated to make circularity a reality. Avery Dennison provided the digital triggers and data connectivity essential to complete the circularity loop between the retailer and the upcycler.  

This session revealed how UpWest products got a second life. Shoppers who scan the QR codes on Avery Dennison’s Digital Hang Tags and Digital Care Labels were taken on a journey outlining the item’s story, care instructions and more about the UpWest brand.

Scott Kuhlman, CEO of ReCircled, spoke of how DCLs are pivotal in upcycling and recycling processes. “If we have textile information on a Digital Care Label we can make processing decisions very quickly. We know what we are dealing with, and we can embark on a much clearer, purer process for recycling.”

Robert Smith, Director of Sourcing & Production at UpWest said the strength of the collaboration has underpinned the project’s success, turning unneeded sweater stock into mittens and blankets. “Together we created something new out of existing products, but it was also about telling a story and challenging norms,” he enthused.

This UpWest and ReCircled pilot is part of Avery Dennison’s ongoing #caretobethechange collaboration program, showcasing how digitised care labels can drive forward real action on sustainability, traceability, and consumer engagement.


We’re proud of our involvement in CFS+ and our ongoing collaborative work with fashion brands and recycling specialists, aiming to make the circular fashion economy a reality. 

As emphasized repeatedly at CFS+ 2021, designing for circularity, diverting clothing and materials from landfill, embracing diversity and reducing emissions are pressing priorities for us all. If we are to achieve so much, the collaborative path is the only logical one to take. 

For more information please visit our recap page

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