Media Release: AFC announces Jaana Quaintance-James as its new CEO

The Australian Fashion Council (AFC) is delighted to announce the appointment of Jaana Quaintance-James as its new Chief Executive Officer, commencing in the role today. 

A leader with a strong track record in commercial strategy delivering market advantage through sustainable practices and innovation, Ms Quaintance-James has dedicated her career to driving impactful change across the Fashion and Textile Industry both domestically and internationally. 

Ms Quaintance-James was most recently the Chief Sustainability and Sourcing Officer at Global Fashion Group which operates fashion and lifestyle eCommerce platforms in LATAM and South-East Asia including THE ICONIC in Australia and New Zealand. Prior to this she was Head of Sustainability at THE ICONIC and Ethical Sourcing Manager at David Jones, following a decade-long consulting career in consumer goods.

Marianne Perkovic, Chair of the AFC said, “Ms Quaintance-James joins us at a time when the Australian Fashion and Textile Industry is navigating challenges in the retail and trading environments at a local and global level, inflationary pressures, technology changes and shortages of skilled workers and materials.” 

“There was a high level of interest in this position. We were ultimately impressed by Ms Quaintance-James’ strategic leadership and strong financial, and operational skills. Her industry knowledge and drive for business transformations that improve profitability and sustainability will ensure our industry continues to thrive.”

Ms Quaintance-James said, “I am excited to champion and support our members as they manage change and innovate. Behind the incredible Australian fashion brands are businesses and their employees supported by consumers. Together we create opportunities to accomplish more and continue to grow the economic contributions of the Australian Fashion and Textile Industry”.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND INTERVIEWS
Prue-ellen Thomas, Head of Marketing and Communications, AFC
pthomas@ausfashioncouncil.com 

AFC Highlights from 2023: Guiding the Just Transformation of our Industry

As we approach the conclusion of yet another year, we're taking the time to pause and celebrate the milestones achieved for our industry, all made possible through the unwavering support of our dedicated AFC Members, Patrons, and Partners. Together, we're driving a transformative journey toward a socially, environmentally, and economically prosperous circular economy by 2030, aiming for Net Zero by 2050. 

Thank you to our AFC Members for being integral to this journey — Join us in reflecting on some of our favourite milestones that defined 2023:

Launched Seamless Design & Roadmap, Australia’s National Clothing Stewardship Scheme: The Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister of Environment and Water, launched the design and roadmap for Seamless - a plan to revolutionise how clothing is made, used, and recirculated in Australia, striving for clothing circularity by 2030.

Launched ‘Advancing a Creative Industries Precinct for Sydney’ Report: Collaborating with the University of Technology Sydney, Minister John Graham, the Powerhouse Museum, and TAFE NSW, the AFC launched a report into the potential of Tech Central's anchor institutions in fostering a dynamic innovation ecosystem. 

Continued Support for First Nations People and Reconciliation: The AFC collaborated with industry leaders, brands and changemakers to launch #FashionForYes, uniting individuals who are committed to acknowledging First Nations' perspectives.

Joined the CSIRO Chief Scientist Expert Advisory Group:  An opportunity to represent our industry and offer impartial, external guidance to CSIRO regarding the national challenges and opportunities within our sector.

Second Pilot for FashTech Lab: Supported by City of Sydney, AFC partnered with leading Australian fashion brands and tech partners for FashTech Lab's second pilot, achieving notable milestones:

National Reconstruction Fund Industry Working Group Seat: Secured a seat in the ‘National Reconstruction Fund Industry Working Group’ to enhance local manufacturing capabilities in the fashion and textiles industry, aligned with government priorities.

Participation in the 'Inquiry into Perceptions and Status of VET': Committed to skill-building and creating career pathways, we contributed to the inquiry, fostering growth within our industry.

Melanie Levis' Nomination for 'ITAB Board of Management': AFC member Melanie Levis of Cue accepted a nomination to represent AFC at Manufacturing Skills Australia's 'ITAB Board of Management,' contributing to the development of local manufacturing capabilities in NSW.

Engagement in Notable Speaking Opportunities: The AFC had the privilege of sharing insights at notable events including the Ethical Consumer Report Webinar hosted by Baptist World Aid and Be Slavery Free, the Circular Economy Show presented by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Sustainable Fashion Roundtable at NSW Parliament House convened by the Hon. Dr. Sarah Kaine MLC, as well as Ragtrader Live, Global Sourcing Expo, International Apparel Federation’s (IAF) World Fashion Convention in Philadelphia, Circularity Live and more.

Not yet a member? Join us to unlock exclusive resources and events, connect with our professional network, and contribute to the future of a sustainable and innovative industry. The AFC is proud to contribute 5% of membership fees to the Indigenous Fashion Fund, launching in 2024.

DECJUBA is on a journey towards a more responsible future

Welcome to the AFC Expert Series, designed to offer insights from our AFC Patron Members. Immerse yourself in the dynamic world of fashion, textiles, sustainability and technology, as we bring you perspectives and expertise from industry leaders across the clothing value chain.

Embarking on a journey towards a more responsible future, DECJUBA introduces 'DECJUBA Future' an initiative that evaluates materials based on sustainability factors such as compliance, circularity, and supply chain transparency, intending to help their customers make more considered purchases. 

We had the privilege of interviewing Kate Carroll, DECJUBA's Head of Sustainability, to delve into the launch of this initiative, the challenges encountered, and the responses from consumers.

With an environmental science background and having recently completed her MBA, Kate brings a wealth of knowledge cultivated over 15 years in environmental management and sustainability across diverse industries. She reflects on the evolving focus in the industry, transitioning from merely 'doing less harm' to the imperative of 'doing more good'.

1. Can you tell us a bit about ‘DECJUBA Future’ and what inspired the team to launch the initiative, was customer demand a driving factor?

DECJUBA Future is a responsible sourcing initiative driven by our Founder, Tania Austin, and fueled by our commitment to becoming a more responsible fashion brand. It responds to the growing demand from customers for both transparency and sustainability in fashion, including feedback from our customers.

The majority of those surveyed supported responsibly sourced products and sustainable practices.

We're focused on using fibres with a lower environmental impact, with our DECJUBA Future-approved products ensuring at least 80% are green-tier fibres. Our journey involves transparently sharing this information on our website. As we work toward our 2027 targets, it's a collaborative effort across our business to deliver both amazing products and a positive impact.

2. Why is transparency and education important to drive as the Head of Sustainability at DECJUBA? What are some initiatives you have implemented/currently exist to drive this?

Transparency and education hold pivotal roles in our mission and values for several compelling reasons.

Firstly, they serve as vital enablers within the industry, driving improvements in both social and environmental performance. Equally important to this, is the role of transparency in building trust with our customers. By openly communicating that we are on a sustainability journey, we aim to establish an understanding that sustainable growth demands both time and commitment.

We are eager for our customers to join us on this journey, by raising their awareness to help them buy better. 

Connecting our internal team to our sustainability journey and fostering better decision-making and accountability is crucial. We achieve this by engaging our teams in sustainability strategy targets through internal sessions and team meetings focused on their specific work areas. Regular meetings with key stakeholders are also scheduled to track performance and discuss improvement opportunities. Our sustainability scorecard, updated quarterly, provides a transparent overview to the leadership team.

The sustainability targets we are working towards include a new 5 green star head office building, 100% renewable energy, 100% reusable, compostable or recyclable packaging, and a circularity program or partnership focusing on sustainable innovation and impactful new models that keep valuable resources in use for longer.

3. What challenges have you encountered in transitioning to green-tiered fibres?

Transitioning to green-tiered fibres has been a complex process of researching responsible fibres over 18 months and developing our framework before launching it to our customers. The process has presented several challenges for our team to overcome, including:

4. How do you view the importance of empowering customers to make eco-conscious choices? 

Empowering our Decjuba customers to make better choices is extremely important to us. We recognise that consumers play a pivotal role in driving positive environmental impact through their purchasing decisions. By providing information, transparency, and sustainable options, we aim to enable our customers to make choices that align directly with their values. 

We feel this not only contributes to a more sustainable industry but also fosters a collective sense of responsibility toward the environment. Consumers are committed to doing the right thing and making better choices in the sustainability space. Our responsibility is to provide those options and choices in a way that is convenient for them.

5. Have you noticed a substantial rise in expenses associated with the implementation of environmentally friendly fibres, and what strategies does your business have in place to address the possibility of increased material costs?

We approach the implementation of environmentally friendly fibres with a balanced perspective, considering factors like margin, region, and sustainability. While we absorb sustainability price premiums where possible, and of course, this can present challenges. 

Fortunately, recycled fibres such as recycled polyester or nylon have proven to be cost-competitive. Additionally, we’re actively exploring efficiency improvements in other aspects of our operations, such as ordering and stock management, to potentially offset any increased material costs.

It’s a strategic and adaptive approach to our business practices with sustainability goals. 

6. Tell us about your participation in the Textile Exchange recycled polyester challenge and your goals for the challenge.

Our four-year membership with Textile Exchange has been invaluable, reinforcing our commitment to sustainability. Our participation in the Textile Exchange material challenge is a significant step, pledging to source 80% or more of the total polyester in our products from recycled polyester by 2025. 

This commitment aligns with our dedication to circularity and responsibly sourced green-tier fibres through our DECJUBA Future initiative. It's a tangible demonstration of our ongoing efforts to drive positive environmental impact within the textile industry.

7. What recommendations can you offer to fellow brands that are considering a switch to green-tiered fibres?

For brands contemplating a switch to green-tiered fibres, we would recommend:

Explore the DECJUBA Future initiative and follow their progress by clicking here.

With special thanks to Kate Carroll and the team at DECJUBA.