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'An investigation into the market for eco-fashion' presented at ASBCI AGM
Apr '09
AGM guest speakers Ian Coupland, Katie Lee & Tim Wilson
AGM guest speakers Ian Coupland, Katie Lee & Tim Wilson
Business matters: Over 60 ASBCI members attended the ASBCI AGM 2009 held in the picturesque surroundings of Barnsdale Lodge nestling on the edge of Rutland Water. The proceedings opened with a presentation from the ASBCI's chairman and technical director, Malcolm Ball.

He thanked members for their active participation in the work of the association, particularly given the difficult economic trading climate. He gave an overview of the activities and financial performance of the association and made particular comment on the success of the new membership fee structure from which five 'Premier Members' had emerged: Arcadia Group plc, George, Marks & Spencer plc , Next and Shop Direct. He also launched the new ASBCI Clothing Industry Handbook 2009 which will be an invaluable tool for promoting the work of the association to the wider industry.

There followed a series of reports from the ASBCI's board of directors including Nottingham Trent University's Alistair Knox, ASBCI treasurer & finance director, Lupton Fawcett LLB's Ian Coupland, ASBCI legal director, Shop Direct Group's Jackie Lewis, ASBCI marketing director, Australian Wool Innovation's Chris Thierry, ASBCI student membership director and textile consultant Diane Waterhouse, ASBCI vice chairman and conference director.

In addition, Intertek's Louise Laidlaw, ASBCI vice ball chairman presented the Grand Ball report while consultant technologist Alan Ross updated members on the current status of the association's web site and highlighted the advent of new BSi standards that could impact members.

Speaker platform
ASBCI meetings always afford an excellent opportunity to invite guest speakers to present on a diverse area of relevant and informative subjects. The AGM was no exception and first to take to the podium was former Nottingham Trent University student Katie Lee, runner-up of the ASBCI Student Dissertation Award 2008 sponsored by Marks & Spencer plc. Katie, now working as an assistant buyer for Per Una, presented the core findings of her outstanding final year thesis entitled 'An investigation into the market for eco-fashion.'

Her in-depth research, including extensive interviews with consumers and retailers, showed that although consumers say they would like to buy 'green' clothing only 2 per cent have actually bought eco-clothing. The price, quality, design and availability of a garment rather than its eco-credentials were more likely to impact buying behaviour. Some 60 per cent of her respondents believed that they were not given enough information when making an environmental choice. She concluded that in order to bridge the attitude/behaviour gap: “Retailers must communicate how consumers are being green by buying eco-clothing.”

Tim Wilson, founder and chief executive of Historic Futures, a company specialising in product traceability, in his presentation 'Trust and transparency' agreed that information is fundamental in getting a consumer to 'trust' the label. His company's on-line traceability service 'STRING', enables companies to trace and demonstrate the origin of a product through every stage of the supply-chain from fibre production to in-store, giving each product a unique development 'footprint'.

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