36th IAF World Fashion Convention in Antwerp, Belgium
This year, the 36th IAF World Fashion Convention is set to take place in Europe, in the Flemish city of Antwerp (Belgium). The IAF has chosen to connect the 36th Convention to the EU as a whole, because of its vibrant fashion and textile industry and because of the ambitious plans on sustainability from the new European Commission. Antwerp therefore is a perfect location. It has enough credentials on its own to qualify as a global fashion town, but it is also located next to Brussels, the administrative heart of Europe.

Theme: ‘Transition in the Global Fashion System’
The theme of the 36th IAF World Fashion Convention is: ‘Transition in the Global Fashion System’.
Transition is the operative word. The theme recognizes the fact that the demand from societies and from consumers, the restraints posed by the earth’s ecosystem and the possibilities offered by technology converge to create a necessity for transition. Merely adapting does not seem to be enough in 2020. Adapting is too slow. 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 will 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.

The Convention’s Thematic Objectives in Detail

  1. The Future of Apparel: The conference program will offer a peek into the future of a transformed textiles and apparel industry. New business models, new production models and techniques, new distribution methods and new material functionalities will be dealt with by our speakers. We will also discuss the future of work itself, with deep insights offered into the effect of robotization on the role of labour. We will offer speakers from companies driving the transformation and parallel sessions together with our partners focusing on education and technology and the industry harmonization enabling smooth cross supply chain digitization.
  1. Circular Economy: The drive to use less resources by reusing materials has become irreversible. It is the  ultimate example of an industry transformation that requires the entire fashion ecosystem to collaborate globally. Along with our partner Euratex, the IAF is one of the signatories of the ‘Manifesto to Deliver a Circular Economy in Textiles’. This Convention offers an ideal chance for manufacturers to interact with brands, retailers and policy makers to learn what is expected of them and to tell what they need to be able to contribute to the drive of making the apparel industry more circular. This topic will be discussed by one or more speakers in the plenary part on Tuesday November 10th and it will be the topic for one of the parallel sessions held on Wednesday, November 11th. In Antwerp, we are speaking within a stone’s throw of Brussels. This is an very topical backdrop as the EU, and some of the EU’s member states are very actively introducing legislation to create a more circular textile and apparel industry.
  1. Legislation and harmonisation: The apparel industry, having such a profound impact on societies across the world, is heavily regulated, both by governments and by itself. This has diverse impacts on our industry, ranging from catastrophic to very supportive. Among others, there are rules and regulations covering trade policy, supply chain communication and policies protecting workers, the consumer and the natural environment. In any case, legislation is an integral part of transformation, as long as it is done in the right way. IAF, as the global body for the apparel industry, continuously works on global harmonization of rules and regulations. In this Convention, we will focus on the reduction of audit and standard fatigue and industry standards for the transformation to a more digital industry. But it is important for the industry to understand the legislative trends and to understand how to deal with existing and upcoming legislation and where possible to influence it.
  1. Education and training: Education is a strategic issue for the global fashion industry. Companies operating globally must be able to connect to a global network of fashion educators. Top companies must be able to find global top talent. Education is a prerequisite for transformation. During this Convention we will focus on the changing requirements of industry, of educators and of the interaction between the two caused by industry transformation. Especially the increased use of technology requires different skill sets and different approaches to education. At the same time, traditional skills that are crucial to producing quality must also not be lost. In all cases, the industry faces the huge challenge of being able to attract new enough good people.

Key message
This convention is a unique fashion industry event bringing  together the entire global industry ecosystem to hear high level industry insights and to jointly discuss concrete actions to create faster industry transition.

The IAF is partnering with several organisations to make this 36th edition of its World Fashion Convention a success. Euratex, the Federation for the European Apparel and Textile Industries and IAF member, will collaborate with IAF on the content design. Creamoda and MODINT, respectively the Belgian and Dutch industry associations will support with their networks and ideas. For the organization of the workshops on Wednesday November 10th, IAF will work with these and also a range of other partners, including the FT Alliance project (which includes London College of Fashion, PVH and Decathlon and many others), ITMF and ITC. A full list of partners and details of the workshops will be communicated soon.

The Convention: a major international event
The convention is a unique fashion industry event, bringing together the entire global industry ecosystem to hear high level industry insights and to jointly discuss concrete actions to create faster industry transition. It is a unique opportunity to gain the insights necessary to understand where our industry is heading and to join the conversation on concrete ways to make the necessary transitions. For this 36th edition we have changed the format to better cater to the theme of transition. One day will be devoted to plenary sessions with top speakers from across the globe. On the second day, in parallel workshops with participants from across the fashion ecosystem, we will discuss major topics driving transition such as circular textiles and implementing new technologies. On top of that, the convention provides an excellent opportunity to meet the global industry in one location in a few days’ time. IAF Conventions are traditionally a mix of gathering insights at the conference and extending one’s network at the social events and this Convention in Antwerp will be no exception. The IAF Golf Tournament, a convention dinner and a facultative study tour will be part of the program.