“Sustainability is not a limitation to fashion, but rather a trigger to bring more passion and real creativity into the industry,” were the words delivered by the United Nations at the crescendo of this year’s Brand Licensing Europe and its Day Three Day of Purpose. In a keynote address on the role of the brand licensing and consumer products industry in the strive towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, Caroline Petit, Deputy Director from the United Nations Regional Information Centre helped celebrate a show that, this year, placed emphasis on sustainability, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Last week’s event played host to a series of sessions highlighting some of the best practices from brand licensing leaders, with a special focus on the world of fashion. In an article for the United Nations forum, Caroline described the event as one now ‘trying to change the common narrative around a trade show’s typical emphasis on money and deals,’ to become a ‘conference where its business leaders come to build a better future.’ It was on stage that Caroline acknowledged the power of influence the $300bn global brand licensing industry has ‘to drive positive societal change’ through the brands it represents – not just in the way products are made, but in the messages that its IP carries and promotes.

Caroline Petit, Deputy Director of the United Nations Regional Information Centre delivers a keynote speech on Day Three of this year’s Brand Licensing Europe.

The United Nations is on a mission to promote its 17 Sustainable Development Goals across sectors by inviting visionary business leaders and civil society to join the sustainable journey. Caroline’s address went on to introduce to the runway an exclusive showcase from the Irish youth design education movement, Junk Kouture for a showstopping catwalk. A showcase of young design talent from students aged 13 to 18, Junk Kouture empowers youth at a school level to embrace the principle of sustainable living by creating apparel and couture from recycled materials.

Katie Brill, SVP of PR and Communications at Junk Kouture (left) alongside the four Junk Kouture students showcasing their talent at BLE last week.

Four students took to the runway wearing their own creations made from 100 per cent recycled materials, including bread packaging, bailing twine, plastic bottles, and even disposable shoe covers. “At Junk Kouture, we’re honoured to have our efforts recognised by the United Nations, Products of Change, and Informa,” said Katie Brill, SVP of PR and Communications at Junk Kouture. “We aim to drive change through youth creative expression and delivering against six of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals across a range of activities led by the world’s youth – the ‘circular engineers of tomorrow.’” Throughout last week’s Brand Licensing Europe, the centrepiece catwalk played host to a series of fashion parades with a particular emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion including a Barbie showcase from Mattel and a truly showstopping, history-making performance from the Black Lives Matter Licensing team. An event that placed empowerment front and centre of this year’s Brand Licensing Europe, the Black Lives Matter catwalk spotlighted a series of extraordinary collections from young, Black talent, before closing with a showcase of the newest in licensed apparel from the Black Lives Matter Licensing team itself.

Designer Sibu Dladla takes to the stage to huge applause following a showcase of talent during the Black Lives Matter catwalk at BLE last week. Image courtesy of Informa.

Played out to the thunderous applause of a BLE audience and a ‘stop you in your tracks’ percussion performance, the 15-minute slot became a real celebration of empowerment and inclusion long overdue in the global licensing space. Away from the catwalk, Products of Change brought sustainable development to this year’s Brand Licensing Europe with a snapshot of just some of the latest efforts from across the brand licensing, consumer products, and retail industries.

Products of Change showcased the brands and retailers making their own waves in sustainable licensed fashion, including Primark Cares, Hasbro and George at Asda, and Smiley.

Integrated into the Products of Change Sustainability Café, the highlight reel included products from across the POC members community, including the likes of George at Asda, Discovery’s Animal Planet, and Poetic Licensing’s recent collaborative collection of clothing and accessories, Smiley’s line-up of ‘future positive’ fashion items, Hasbro’s newest Peppa Pig toy lines, and the award-winning licensing roster from Eden Project.

Animal Planet’s George at Asda collection from Poetic Licensing features alongside Smiley’s ‘future positive’ fashion selection at BLE 2022.

The Wastebuster team was back for another year to showcase its Recycle to Read campaign and drive awareness for its 2023 project as it sets its sights on achieving the world’s largest toy take back campaign to coincide with 2023 Waste Week. The housewares specialist, Pure Table Top spotlighted its Pure Home project, Play Press Toys showcased just a collection of collaborations with some of the biggest brands in children’s entertainment, including The Gruffalo, Zog, and Dinosaur Roar, while Formula E presented its apparel collection with Stichd.

Away from the Products of Change Sustainability Cafe yet still under the POC banner, Primark laid on a large scale showcase of its Primark Cares initiative to make sustainability affordable.

The Smurfs were on hand to play their role as ambassadors for the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, Small World Accessories highlighted the strides the team was taking in sustainable production, while the RSPB showcased a line-up geared towards helping fund the efforts of the UK’S largest wildlife conservation charity. The LEGO Group was at Brand Licensing Europe this year to tell a story, too – highlighting the journey the team is on to overhaul its packaging and strip out single-use plastic completely by 2025. LEGO’s showcase emphasised the importance of design with a ‘before and after’ story of what it has achieved so far.

The LEGO Group showcased its journey towards the end of single use plastic across all of its packaging by 2025

LEGO’s packaging concept lead, Dan Kjaersgaard even dropped by the show to deliver a series of informal Sustainable Packaging Design Masterclasses to visitors of BLE this year.

LEGO’s packaging concept lead, Dan Kjaersgaard offered up some inspirational food for thought in a series of sustainable packaging design masterclasses.

“The brand and lifestyle licensing industry has a global retail value of over $300bn, meaning its impact is huge,” said Helena Mansell-Stopher, founder and CEO of Products of Change. “But its scale means it’s an industry filled with opportunity, not only in the product it is responsible for, but in driving positive societal change through the brands it represents. “We are so proud to have showcased the fantastic cross-industry and cross-category achievements from our Products of Change members community at BLE this year as we continue to drive awareness of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the good that can be done here at Brand Licensing Europe.”

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