Fashion Impact Fund at the Third Annual Meeting of the UN Fashion and Lifestyle Network

Fashion Impact Fund at the Third Annual Meeting of the UN Fashion and Lifestyle Network

Allison Stroman - On June 3, 2024, the United Nations Fashion and Lifestyle Network held their third annual meeting. A joint venture between the United Nations Office for Partnerships and the Fashion Impact Fund, the UN Fashion and Lifestyle Network is a space for collaboration between the UN and the fashion and lifestyle industries to make meaningful progress in innovation and education. The end goal: attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. 

The Fashion Impact Fund is a program supporting training programs for women with a focus on fashion skills. The Fund’s goal is to increase women’s financial independence and fight poverty, gender-based violence, and discrimination. Through working towards these goals and supporting women-led fashion businesses, the Fashion Impact Fund aims to positively impact the fashion industry. The Fashion Impact Fund holds seven commitments: fashion education and job training for women, increase economic stability and independence, improve gender equality, support fair and ethical job opportunities, combat gender-based discrimination and violence, combat poverty, and create a more sustainable future for the fashion industry.

The Fashion Impact Fund targets United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 8 with emphasis on targets 5.1, 5.2, 5.5, 8.3, 8.5, and 8.8. 

The United Nations outlines Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality and Targets 5.1, 5.2, and 5.5 as follows:

SDG 5: Gender Equality: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” 

Target 5.1: “End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere” 

Target 5.2: “Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation”

Target 5.5: “Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life”. 

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth and Targets 8.3, 8.5, and 8.8 are defined as follows:

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth:“Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”

Target 8.3 “Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formation and growth or micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises including through access to financial services”

Target 8.5: “By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value”

Target 8.8: “Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment” 

The Third Annual Meeting of the United Nations Fashion and Lifestyle Network addressed industry-specific challenges that are complicating progress towards the fashion and lifestyle industries completing the SDGs. According to the United Nations, “ten percent of global carbon emissions and nearly 20 percent of wastewater production” comes from the fashion industry. Considering that 2030 is the target year for attaining the SDGs, these challenges need quick and effective solutions that require discussion, collaboration, and cooperation. 

Annemarie Hou, the Execute Director of the UN Office for Partnerships, delivered remarks at the Third Annual Meeting that highlight the challenges and need for collaboration in the fashion and lifestyle industries to overcome them. Ms. Hou stated that “[w]omen make up about 80 per cent of the workforce in the fashion industry, yet they often earn only a fraction of their male counterparts’ wages” which demonstrates a strong need for progress on gender equality and changes to employment standards. She emphasized how detrimental the reliance of plastics for creating and disposing of synthetic fibers is to the oceans. The resulting high levels of plastic waste will lead to “more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight” by 2050. Annemarie Hou emphasized how meaningful dedication to sustainability must include a collaborative approach, “reducing the reliance on plastics, promoting circular economies, and protecting our oceans and communities”. Collaboration was a theme of Ms. Hou’s remarks: 

“Together, we can leverage our collective strength to drive sustainable practices, foster inclusivity, and ensure transparency in everything we do. Our collective efforts today and beyond are not just about mitigating harm but about actively creating positive impacts. This means integrating sustainability into every fabric of our industries, from design to production to consumption and disposal. By doing so, we not only protect our planet but also uplift communities, prompt economic resilience, and champion social justice.”

At Repurpose Wardrobe, sustainability, collaboration, and closing the opportunity gap are at the center of our daily work. Through accepting clothing donations, Shop Repurpose keeps clothing out of landfills through resale. This decreases pollution and waste through avoiding landfills and decreasing consumers’ need to purchase new items outside of the secondhand market. Repurpose Wardrobe’s RENEW Program, powered by selling pieces of the curated collection of luxury items and donations, aims to empower and train the next generation of the fashion and design industries. RENEW brings together trainees from varying backgrounds and creates a collaborative community in which there is an open transmission of ideas and experiences unique to each person. As each trainee participates in mentorship, attends workshops, and learns through different industry paths, RENEW supports skill and confidence building to prepare interns to secure strong jobs in the fashion and design industries. To learn more about the RENEW Program, read our blog. Support Repurpose Wardrobe in our mission to close the opportunity gap through the resale of luxury apparel.

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