Beyond the blahblah

Beyond Green is the annual symposium on the future of fashion organized by the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) and since three years together with Circle Economy. HEMA was the sponsor and host of this great event at its headquarter on the NDSM werf. Beyond Green uses the collective power of students and industry players to tackle critical issues throughout the fashion system. While the ‘why’ of circularity is generally understood, the ‘how’ remains largely unanswered.  So that is why last Friday’s theme was ‘Beyond the blahblah’.

L-R: Leslie Holden (AMFI), Adriana Hoppenbrouwer-Perreira (HEMA), Harald Friedl (Circle Economy) and Hélène Smits

L-R: Leslie Holden (AMFI), Adriana Hoppenbrouwer-Perreira (HEMA), Harald Friedl (Circle Economy) and Hélène Smits

Eva Ronhaar, head of sustainability at HEMA, spoke about how sustainability is a priority and an ongoing process for the company. HEMA’s marketing director, Adriana Hoppenbrouwer-Perreira, explained how being a producer, retailer and brand at the same time, asks for a synergy and importance to incorporate sustainability in all three. It is therefore also included into their core values: better products for everyone, better conduct of business and better work and social conditions.


First speaker of the morning was the energizing and inspiring Vanessa Belleau, Head of Fashion and Home Shopper Marketing UK at the Walt Disney Company. She emphasized on the importance of a real and simple message, that focusses on attention. The ‘3D’s’ can help with this: 1) Deconstruct. We can’t do it all so choose something. In general people don’t care about sustainability so focus on the ‘be’. 2) Disrupt. Be brave, take risks and be vulnerable. Third is Develop. Develop the simple and clear message that focusses on action. Next up was AMFI alumnus Robbert Wefers-Bettink, co-founder of Dick Moby. He told about sourcing recycled materials and about the long search to the best material they could use. Quality, sustainability and price of the glasses had to be in balance. Dick Moby’s credo is “Quality is key, sustainability is king” and its mission to reduce plastic pollution. Reformation’s VP Operations & Sustainability Kathleen Tabot, said that the ease of use is at the basis of success. Reformation sources sustainable fabrics and vintage garments, while incorporating better practices throughout the supply chain. Example of this is their End-of-life recycling service, that picks up the clothing you don’t want any more up, free of cost.


“80% of the time we only wear 20% of our clothes”. Suzanne Smulders, AMFI alumnus and co-founder of LENA the fashion library, started her speech with a clear statement. By subscribing to LENA, you save money, space and the planet. If you have a never ending wardrobe and nothing to wear, LENA is the place for you. Laura Hunter, Futerra’s Head of Copy, stated that we have to write a new narrative for circularity. She said that with hope and optimism, 95% of the change is in the hands of humanity. Next on the stage was Neliana Fuenmayor, who started A Transparent Company with the idea that the lack of transparency withholds the consumer from making informed decisions. This company gives advice to companies who want to know more about transparency in the fashion industry. Last but not least was Gwen Cunningham, responsible for the Textiles Program at Circle Economy and teacher at AMFI regarding sustainability. According to her, the ‘it is what it is’ mentality lies at the core of the seemingly incapability of today’s society, to assertively react on the change that is needed. Circular intent in a linear world is only possible when a collaborative cross-supply chain approach is used.

Apart from the charming Robbert, this morning was not only an acme in circular insight, but also in the visibility of powerful women.  In the afternoon, expert-led workshops on company-specific challenges took place for the next generation of motivated fashion professionals and seasoned industry pros. A report by one of our students of the afternoon  can be found here.

Article written by Carly Hubregtse

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