The CEO Agenda 2018 – fashion executives join together to support sustainability

The CEO Agenda 2018 is an unprecedented document that is meant to lead the fashion industry into a more sustainable reality. It sets out seven key priorities and suggests the companies what goals they should set in order to improve their environmental and social footprint.

The Global Fashion Agenda is a non-profit organization founded in 2016 in an effort to make the fashion industry more and more sustainable. In its ranks we can find companies the likes of Kering, H&M and Target – groups that accepted to join forces to define the major issues that should be prioritized in order to improve global sustainability.


Their conclusions have given rise to the CEO Agenda 2018, a groundbreaking document that offers clear guidance for company executives all around the world.

It all began in 2017, when the GFA joined forces with the Boston Consulting Group and published a report called the Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017. One of the major findings discussed in the document was the relationship between sustainability and the fashion industry: as many as half the executives had not yet taken any action to improve their company footprint, and they were reluctant about doing something about it. After delving in the subject, GFA and their strategic partners found out that the main reason behind this lack of action lied in the “magnitude and complexity of the challenge”. CEOs were asking for guidance – and in order to provide it, nothing better than a joint industry focus. The result of their discussions was the CEO Agenda 2018.

GFA has acknowledged the role played by the first movers, which are the companies that had already taken some actions towards the goal of sustainability, exposing the worrying inertia of the other half of the fashion industry. Since the CEOs’ decisions affect the entire value chain, executives are the primary target audience of the Agenda. At the same time, however, GFA wants to address other players too – such as investors, suppliers, and government officials. In order to help them make informed choices, the Agenda has identified seven crucial issues – three of the key points are core priorities that call for immediate implementation, while the other four are transformational points demanding for a more cautious course of action.

The CEO Agenda 2018 asks for immediate improvements in the fields of traceability, environmentally sustainable production, and respectful work environments. The so-called “transformational priorities for fundamental change”, on the other hand, involve new sustainable fibres, a closed-loop fashion system, better wage systems, and finding the best ways to embrace the fourth industrial revolution.

The CEO Agenda 2018 presents each issue extensively, but there is much more than a simple description of the different priorities: the document openly states the things that need to change and questions the ways in which the companies can get closer to a solution. Far from being a mere criticism of the system, the CEO Agenda proves to be a useful vademecum to make companies future-proof, ready to embrace (and create) “a world beyond next season”.

It is too early to conclude whether the CEO Agenda will be able to fix the fashion industry’s major issues, but the fact that the Global Fashion Agenda has managed to unite executives and get seven truly shared priorities gives us cause to hope.


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