British Fashion Council to address sustainability in global fashion and retail at Expo 2020 Dubai

23 February 2021:

Caroline Rush, CEO, British Fashion Council (BFC), is one of the headline speakers announced today for an exciting program of events exploring the future of fashion and retail, taking place in the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai this October.

How will technology, social change and the climate crisis shape what we wear in the future? How can the worlds of fashion and retail, which rely on consumption and novelty, become more sustainable and socially responsible? These will be some of the big questions asked during ‘In the future, what will we Wear?’ from 22-26 October 2021, the opening event in a series of sector showcases as part of the UK’s national programme at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The UK participation theme for Expo 2020 Dubai is ‘Innovating for a Shared Future’. Through a series of talks, exhibitions, interactive digital displays, workshops, performances and experiences ‘What will we wear?’ considers how the global fashion industry can evolve to address a range of challenges which have been raised during recent editions of London Fashion Week. These include climate change, sustainability and waste, social responsibility and ethical fashion, the impact of technology on the sourcing, design, manufacture and supply of clothes, and the retail experience of the future.

The five days of activities will include a two-day summit bringing together some of the most influential minds in the industry to discuss solutions to these issues while a series of podcasts and online videos will allow audiences from around the world to virtually experience the programme and take part in the discussion. Speakers announced today are Caroline Rush, CEO, British Fashion Council; Orsola de Castro, Founder and Global Creative Director of Fashion Revolution; John Andrews, Founder and Chair of IORMA – The Global Consumer Commerce Centre; John Rainford, Vice Chair, Transformational Thinking of IORMA; and Dr Claire Lerpiniere, Senior Lecturer in Textile Design at De Montfort University.

Throughout the week visitors to the UK Pavilion will be able to experience interactive activations, exhibitions and showcases that bring the very best of UK Fashion to the World Expo. Student content will also show visitors the benefits of studying in the UK and opportunities in the fashion, textile and retail industries.

Caroline Rush, CEO, British Fashion Council, said: “We are delighted to participate in the UK Pavilion’s programme of events for Expo 2020 Dubai. The fashion industry has an important role to play in the fight against climate change and in meeting the targets set out in the Paris Agreement. The British Fashion Council is committed to working with the industry in its efforts to become more circular and through its Institute of Positive Fashion, brings together expertise, innovation and ideas to accelerate change. Expo 2020 Dubai is a fantastic platform to discuss these issues and turn them into actions.”

All events will be hosted in the stunning UK Pavilion, designed by brand experience specialists Avantgarde with British artist and designer Es Devlin, inspired by Prof Stephen Hawking’s 'Breakthrough Message’. A must see highlight of the Expo 2020 Dubai campus, it occupies a prime location in the Opportunity District, near to the central Al Wasl Dome and Plaza.

Laura Faulkner OBE, UK Commissioner for Expo 2020 Dubai, says: “The UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will provide a platform for our fashion industry to showcase their talent and work with partners from around the world to explore solutions to global challenges.

“With exports reaching £11.9bn, the UK’s fashion sector is world-renowned and continues to be at the forefront of innovation. These discussions and the thought-provoking exhibitions will provide a glimpse of a more ethical and sustainable future for fashion, enabled by new technology, close international collaboration and pledges to reach net zero by 2050.”

The first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region and the largest event ever held in the Arab world, Expo 2020 Dubai will now open on 1 October 2021. Further details of ‘What will we wear?’ and the wider UK programme of events will be announced throughout the year as the event grows closer.


UK fashion statistics

  • The Department for International Trade actively supports companies throughout the UK to promote fashion sector exports. In 2019, fashion, footwear and textiles exports totalled £11.9bn, an increase of 3% on 2018. [Source: HMRC overseas trade statistics]

  • The British fashion industry contributed £35bn to the UK economy in 2019 and employs 890,000 people [Source: British Fashion Council, Oxford Economics)

  • The UK’s textile manufacturing sector produces £5.8bn of materials, ranging from the world’s most sought after cashmere to the finest worsted wool, luxurious tweeds and distinctive tartans. [Source: UK Fashion & Textiles Association]

The UK at Expo 2020 Dubai

The UK is participating in Expo 2020 Dubai, taking place from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. More than 190 nations are taking part with 70% of the visitors expected from around the world. The overarching theme for Expo 2020 Dubai is ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. Under the theme ‘Innovating for a Shared Future’, the UK’s participation will boost the country’s global reputation, drive future partnerships and provide long term economic benefit.

The UK’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai will be led by the Department for International Trade (DIT), with support from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the Department for Transport, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the Devolved Administrations. The UK’s presence will consist of a self-build country Pavilion, based in the ‘Opportunity’ district and an accompanying business, cultural, tourism and education events programme.

Find out more on the
UK at Expo 2020 Dubai website