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Growing businesses sustainably with the LCF Founders Club and Fashion Conversations

A panel of 4 guest speakers and 2 staff members introducing the event in front of an audience.
  • Written byC. Miller
  • Published date 19 December 2023
A panel of 4 guest speakers and 2 staff members introducing the event in front of an audience.

Have you ever wondered how businesses can grow sustainably? For the first time since its opening, we welcomed our LCF Founders Club into our new East Bank building to find out exactly that. In collaboration with Fashion Conversations, LCF Graduate Futures put together an all-star panel chaired by Viviane Paraschiv, co-founder of Fashion Conversations and growth and innovation consultant for fashion and luxury brands.

Fashion Conversations is a platform that creates authentic connections amongst fashion professionals. The community includes founders, leaders and talented industry professionals sharing opinions on new business models, technology and the innovation needed for social and environmental action with the goal to build a positive and sustainable future for fashion. This focus on innovation and environmental action were the driving forces behind the selection process for the panel with the aim of tackling the obstacles that every fashion startup is facing today, such as ‘how can I grow my business sustainably?’ or ‘how can we have a positive social and environmental impact as a founder?’. The panel was made up of some of British fashions most established go getters and trend setters,

$ members of a panel discussion in front of an audience.

Viviane kicked things off with a focus on Greenwashing, the act of making false or misleading statements about the environmental benefits of a product or practice. The panel offered some incredible insight into the importance of honesty, integrity, and better practices when it comes to how they operate whilst also reassuring the founders in attendance of the difficulties of operating entirely sustainably due to the nature of the fashion industry as a whole and the reliance on the production of fabrics that in some cases, we can’t always recycle. They encouraged small businesses to operate as sustainably as they possibly can and went on to highlight some of the practices large fast fashion brands are employing within their operations, such as continuing to increase production numbers year on year rather than repurposing unpurchased clothes and turning them into something new.

Stuart offered up some scintillating insight into his process when it came to ensuring he had a positive social and environmental impact in his operations, explaining how:

attempting to overcome the issue of negative environmental and social impact ultimately led to the birth of my new sustainable fashion brand ‘LFW’. It launched earlier this year in September 2023 and the driving force behind the brand is its use of recycled clothing and deadstock fabrics. Ultimately, we’re trying to turn deadstock into living stock and operating as a clothing brand that doesn’t produce any clothing.

Close up of Viviane Paraschiv and Farah Cohen talking

LCF Founders Club members were especially intrigued when Muchaneta ten Napel broached the subject of differentiating between policy and transparency. She talked through some incredibly valuable anecdotes that demonstrated how she went about getting through to large fashion brands when it comes to operating more sustainably. Giving insights to her business thought processes showcased how creative problem solving and versatility can help our Founders in their own businesses, stating that:

These brands primarily focus on making as much money as possible. So, I decided to come at it from a financial perspective, explaining exactly how operating more sustainably can lead to increased profits without compromising integrity.

With the desire to affect change in the fashion and creative industry at the forefront of our Founders Club members minds, they jumped at the chance to ask the panel questions and explore other connected topics like advice for attaining new fabrics, to tips and tricks to keep you inspired and even quite technical topics such as building a profitable value chain for startups. As the talk came to a close, the group were given a tour of the new East Bank building before heading to the canteen for some networking over coffee and pastries. The panel discussion had clearly got the creative juices flowing as Founders and panel guests shared their thoughts and feelings on the experience and the industry. It highlighted how the panel had once been where our Founders are in their career development, ultimately highlighting the key skills they need to navigate the everchanging landscape of fashion.

Muchaneta ten Napel, Founder of Shape Innovate making a point during the LCF Founders Club panel discussion

This networking breakfast was the perfect demonstration of how fruitful these types of events can be and the prospect of many more events like this one in the new East Bank building is something the Founders Club will be relishing as they look towards the future.