The theme of the 36th IAF World Fashion Convention was: ‘Transition in the Global Fashion System’. Transition being the operative word. The theme recognized the fact that the demand from societies and from consumers, the restraints posed by the earth’s ecosystem and the possibilities offered by technology converged to create a necessity for transition. Merely adapting did not seem to be enough in 2020. New successful companies based on entirely different business models shape the industry’s transition, as do existing companies embarking on bold programs of change. Transition does not involve the industry alone but requires all in the entire fashion ecosystem to work together. It requires a good and close collaboration with governments, creating regulatory environments that are supporting transition without stifling entrepreneurial drive. Educational institutes are engines of transition not only by training new employees, but also by actively nurturing new business.


In the digital event of November 2020, prominent speakers from the IAF member network representing a wide range of supply chain links (brands, producers, technology solution providers, educators and NGOs) shared their vision on the theme “Transition in the Global Fashion System”. These influential speakers provided a unique collection of visionary statements on the industry’s future, during a time where transition is so necessary and also where the need to collaborate across the industry has become so great.

On November 10 and 11, IAF hosted four online sessions on topics strongly related to the ‘transition’ theme.

Session 1 – Education and Technology in the Apparel Industry

Information and Q&A Session
FT Alliance is a major project bringing together educators, large and small brands and fashion technology solution providers. Some of the participants are London College of Fashion (UAL), Technical Universities of Delft (Netherlands), POLIMI Milano and University of Borås (Sweden), Decathlon and PVH. Several intensive workshops have uncovered very interesting insights about the human capital needs created by the digital transformation of the fashion industry.

Session 2 – Shared Risk and Reward in the Fashion Supply Chain

Creating a better retail margin, at less risk, requires investment in process innovation. What investment should retailers and suppliers make, and how can it create value both upstream and downstream? How does a faster, leaner and more agile sourcing relationship help to balance risks and rewards? Is our industry business model capable of overcoming its low profit, low growth and low tech reputation? Isn’t the balancing and sharing of risk ánd reward among buyers and suppliers one of the keys to unlocking a better overall performance of the supply chain?

Session 3 – Digital Fabrics Roadmap

Round table discussion
3D digital platforms have revolutionised the way the industry approaches design and development, but it still falls short when it comes to materials simulation based on physical and mechanical properties. Why? It is the lack of uniformity in how materials are measured across different software systems. In an ideal world, measurements would be standardized to the point that fabric suppliers can provide a swatch of materials complete with all general properties needed to simulate in all and any 3D environment without ever needing to buy a material sample.

Session 4 – IAF’s and ITMF’s Standard Convergence Initiative – Audit and Standard Fatigue

Information and Q&A Session
IAF and ITMF run the SCI (Standard Convergence Initiative) project aimed at reducing audit and standard fatigue. Together with ITC (International Trade Centre) IAF and ITMF are initiating a monitoring instrument that will measure to what extent standard holders are contributing to solving the problem of audit and standard fatigue. We have developed 4 criteria for the measurement that we will present.


IAF firmly believes that transition in the global fashion system is necessary and that transition requires a global, industry wide, collaborative approach. Who better than to give their vision on ‘transition’ than a cross section of prominent IAF members and relations? Below, you will find messages from Han Bekke, (overall view), Dean Jose Teunissen (education), Leila Naja Hibri (SME brands and labels), John Thorbeck (business processes), Janice Wang (technology) and dr. Rubana Huq (manufacturing). Their contributions will be given from different perspectives, but what is striking when listening to these visions is the agreement among the speakers about the best way forward for the industry.

Han Bekke is the Immediate Past President of IAF. As a former association leader, Han has been a strong protagonist for industry transformation with a particular focus on supply chain collaboration.

José Teunissen is Dean of the School of Design and Technology of the London College of Fashion (University of the Arts, London). She is also a member of the Board of Directors of IAF and she is has a strong vision on the way education and industry can work together to better adapt the skills of our young people to a rapidly changing industry context.

Dr. Rubana Huq is the former President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and also managing director of the Mohammadi Group. During her tenure she has been a vocal, passionate and effective representative of the manufacturers’ interests within the global apparel supply chain

John Thorbeck is the chairman of Chainge Capital. The name of his company is a wordplay on [supply] chain, change and capital. That is no coincidence; John strongly believes that industry transition requires a change of the prevailing business model, switching from a reliance on squeezing prices to collaborating in the entire supply chain to reduce uncertainty and thereby free and create capital needed to invest in stronger, smarter and more sustainable business.

Janice Wang is the CEO of Alvanon, which is a global innovations company that helps apparel brands improve their fit to reflect modern-day consumers. She has a very big heart for the industry and realizes that the implementation of technology hinges on educating people to work with this technology as reflected in Alvanon’s role in the creation of elearning company MOTIF, whose CEO Catherine Cole is co-speaker in Janice’s clip.

Leila Naja Hibri is the CEO of the Australian Fashion Council, the Australian apex body for the apparel industry. She expresses a very clear view on the right balance between people, planet and profit as the foundation for the success of Australian fashion brands, labels and manufacturers. Her leadership helps the Australian fashion industry transform into a modern and competitive industry and a desirable sector to work in.