Eric Cohen

November 11, 2021

Podcast EP.45: Sustainability PT.1: A conversation with Claire Bergkamp, COO of Textile Exchange

Educating fashion brands on the ways they can help avert the ongoing climate crisis.

Sustainability is at the forefront of conversation, from Malibu to Milan, and on the minds of world leaders as they convene at the COP26 conference. Can fashion help lead the way?

As 2021 draws to a close the need for sustainability in fashion is dire. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the impact of lockdowns and limited travel on C02 in the atmosphere only registered as a blip. Retailers have reinforced their sustainability goals to ensure targets are hit by 2030 but a more aggressive timetable is needed. 

It’s no secret how wasteful and polluting the fashion industry is. From visibly staining African waterways blue to reportedly costing US retailers $50 billion a year from deadstock alone. Sustainability is a multi-pronged issue with several complex factors - which will take more than a recycled capsule collection to solve the problem. Effort from retailers, consumers and government bodies are all required.

On this episode, we’re joined by Claire Bergkamp, who is the Chief Operating Officer at Textile Exchange. Previously Claire held the position of Worldwide Sustainability and Innovation Director for over eight years at Stella McCartney.

Excess Hollywood

As a former Hollywood costume designer and wardrobe specialist, Claire learned first hand the wastefulness of an industry that often resembles its own free standing city for months at a time. From electricity to food service, a movie or television production is often a poster for the more, more, more attitudes that have driven people like her to work towards better solutions.

Mother Nature's daughter

Enter Stella McCartney, who grew up learning about saving the planet from her vegetarian parents, long before sustainability was a part of the collective consciousness.

The label was one of the first to tackle sustainability head on, redefining the supply chain to source viscose in a way not seen before, as well as gaining a better understanding of how it impacts the bottom line.

The (fibers & materials) Matrix

Since leaving Stella McCartney in November of 2020, Claire has found a home as COO of Textile Exchange, a nonprofit committed to creating a better supply chain where it starts, in the forest, or anywhere raw materials start their journey towards the consumer market.

From farmers to the brands themselves, the 640 members that make up the organization are committed to reducing greenhouse gases by 45% in less than ten years.

 

 

Notable quotable

"Interestingly, a lot of luxury brands haven't decided to market [sustainability] yet...I have some experience with very, very, prominent, top-tier luxury brands, doing some really great work, and just not feeling like they needed to communicate it." - Claire Bergkamp

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