{besps}ss/RITE3{/besps}LONDON – It was standing room only at the 4th annual RITE Group conference in London yesterday where around 230 delegates from all areas of the textile sector squeezed into Central Hall, Westminster, to hear about the latest on sustainable textile production, consumer behaviour, government initiatives and ethical sourcing.

The event was a complete sell-out and bookings had to be closed prior to the event resulting in some delegates showing up on the day in an effort to gain last minute entrance. Visitors travelled from around the world to attend the conference with delegates from the USA, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Germany, France, Norway, and Italy among others - Ellie Skeele, president of Himalayan Wild Fibres even came all the way from Nepal, calling the conference ‘an exceptional and inspirational experience’.

Small companies such as new UK start-up Nissim sat happily alongside established retailers and brands such as Tesco, Monsoon, M&S, Nike, adidas, Etam, John Lewis, Body Shop and George and a varied mixture of smaller brands, textile manufacturers, suppliers, NGO’s, academia and even a representative of the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

The event was opened by independent cross-bench peer Baroness Lola Young OBE  who told delegates that she had set up an All Parliamentary Group on ethical and sustainable fashion in the House of Lords and said she was “wholeheartedly behind the ethos and aims of the RITE Group,” describing the conference as a “significant event.” Abi Rushton from Tesco who chaired the morning session noted the RITE Group event has evolved into “one of the most interesting and varied global conferences of the year.”

Conference theme

The theme of the event was ‘Shaping tomorrow’s industry’ and Vicky Murray, senior sustainability advisor at Forum for the Future set the scene by quoting research that asked 40 leading experts to come up with 100 factors that will impact consumer behaviour going forward. According to the research, the three most important of these factors were said to be “climate change, population growth and resource shortages”.

This theme was carried on throughout the conference with talks on consumer buying patterns, textile fibre selection, sustainability in the textile chemicals sector and a detailed presentation on cotton production trends from Simon Ferrigno, who outlined the challenges of global resource utilisation in terms of cotton production.

Paul Hulme, president of Huntsman Textile Effects gave an interesting and objective presentation on the challenges faced by the textile dyeing and finishing sector noting that “sustainability is now a real issue” and pointing out that: “In China, finally environmental legislation is being executed,” in order to avoid an “estimated 33% shortfall in water requirements in 20 years time”.

In addition to the talks and five separate breakout sessions, C.L.A.S.S. produced a superb collection of stylish designer clothing made from sustainable raw materials displayed on mannequins, kindly supplied by Monsoon.

In summary, Richard Blackburn from the RITE Group said the 2010 conference had “given RITE and its network of supporters’ new momentum as it strives to include companies of all sizes in the textile industry to work together to push forward the issue of sustainability in our industry.”

A full conference report and in-depth features will appear in the November issue of Ecotextile News magazine. CLICK HERE to subscribe and make sure you receive the magazine every month.


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