Plastic has had a terrible year. People are saying’no’ to plastic straws to conserve sea turtles. Government officials are passing legislation to prohibit plastic shopping bags. And reusable water bottle sales are soaring.
So what does this have to do with fashion? Well, everything.
Especially as more people begin to understand that the fashion industry (especially speedy fashion) is among the world’s largest environmental offenders.
Why is it so important for fashion brands to rethink their sustainable plans? And what can they do to make a difference?
A commitment to authenticity
The trend of sustainable style is not new. Originally stemming from the 1940s wartime need for rationing fabric, the idea really blossomed in the late 1980s and early 1990s with firms like Patagonia. For the outdoor clothing manufacturer, sustainability is more than only a marketing hook — it’s an ethos.
Since that time, sustainability in vogue has surfaced. Allbirds, Everlane, Outdoor Voices are simply a couple of the many new fashion brands that grew from an intrinsic objective to produce sustainable clothing.
The Maiyet Collective only launched a co-retailing area in London, taking a fresh spin on retail which combines the excitement of flex retail with the cooperation of a shared area. The brand brings together a curated set of small, sustainably driven style, beauty and home goods brands which swap out month to month. And the shop itself? Every detail was designed to use only raw materials.
It is one thing to have a line of tops made from eco friendly material, but if they are displayed on a plastic shelf or put in a plastic bag upon purchase, you are contradicting yourself. There should be a continuity of sustainability at the shop.
But what about those style businesses which are not as dedicated to sustainability? Or those that want to change gears, but can not completely rebrand? Sustainability can nevertheless play a role — it just needs to be authentic. H&M came under fire a couple of years back for starting a sustainability initiative whilst also burning unused products. Environmental campaigns must be carried out honestly, or customers will sniff out the lie and turn off.
Sustainability means transparency — and Superior
Brands frequently refer to sustainability and transparency hand in hand. Today’s consumer is more educated than ever before. From organic foods to cruelty-free beauty products, they wish to know what’s happening with their merchandise. And today, that trend is permeating the fashion sector.
So once you take into consideration the sustainable nature of your style brand, you do not just have to take into account the logistics of the goods, you want to consider how to market them to your customers. 1 word: displays.
A card that is as straightforward as”This coat was made from recycled materials” provides the wearer a new life and a narrative. A screen that is filled with greenery reminds the user of the environment they are trying to protect. A case with the amount of water bottles necessary to generate a set of Rothy’s sneakers educates the user and provides a clear visual cue. The important thing here is concrete context the consumer can view and understand.
Some fashion brands (as well as large holding companies) are moving even larger in their effort to show sustainability to customers by creating partnerships. Burberry, H&M, Unilever, Target and more established a consortium of firms dedicated to”eliminate plastic pollution and waste at the source.” Not only will they be launch concrete initiatives, they will also report their progress annually — transparent evidence to the customer that their favourite brands are placing money where their mouths are.
Wear it and discuss it. Use it and reuse it.
Among the biggest challenges to sustainability in the fashion business is the desire for”new.” Every season, exciting trends hit the stand. Shiny, fresh and ultra-stylish, the hottest lines draw customers back to the shop, ready to stock up for the new year.
But what about the clothing the customer already has? They are tossed aside — to sit in the cupboard gathering dust, or thrown in the wastebin. According to a study by secondhand e-commerce store thredUP, 70 percent of clothes in the typical woman’s cupboard goes fully unworn, and the average American throws away 80 lbs of clothing annually.
Thrifting is a pure disruption to this appalling statistic — and it is gaining popularity. In actuality, 1 in 3 girls shopped secondhand in 2017.
Secondhand is not the only alternative. Enter the share market. Firms like Rent the Runway and Le Tote offer customers trend to lease for special events or everyday life. Le Tote even allows members to buy pieces that they love to get a fraction of the retail cost.
Sustainability efforts aren’t solely restricted to businesses with these share or thrift company models. H&M shops globally have donation boxes for old clothing and textiles. Donors get a 10% off coupon, and the fabrics are resold, reused or recycled. Madewell does something similar, taking old pairs of jeans and turning them into home insulation.
This is a very simple integration into any style retailer’s business, presenting your business as environmentally friendly while also extending the lifecycle of accessories and clothing (thereby reducing the ecological effects of item by 73 percent ). It is a win-win.
What about other types? Sustainability can play a part in these too — particularly when retailers sell cross-industry solutions. Tech stores can accumulate and repurpose old electronic equipment, beauty shops may have recycling boxes for older makeup bottles, and mass merchandisers can produce sections devoted to sustainable products. Sustainability is a trending subject across businesses, and as our planet warms up, it shows no sign of going away. It is time for brands to jump on board.