The fashion industry is responsible for 10 % of annual global carbon emissions. This is more than the emissions from flights and shipping combined. Here are six ways to make the fashion industry more sustainable.
“Only collectively can we shape our common future”, it is an all-purpose commitment as global citizens and it carries a unique goal. But what does “collectively” mean and what can we expect from our common future?
From the Global Fashion Agenda report, the CEO Agenda 2020, COVID-19 edition, let’s have a look at the six opportunities which the fashion industry executives should take to rebuild a resilient and sustainable fashion industry.
1. Map social and environmental impacts along the value chain.
What would be worse than not being aware of our own deeds? At every step of the value chain, what are the implications of your product or service to exist? The priority is to be able at least to track and trace where and how the products have been manufactured, so that risks to climate change, biodiversity and human rights can be assessed.
2. Build trust and brand loyalty
There is a key element that makes people trustworthy - telling the truth. Brands must try to be more transparent about the situations they are facing. We live in an era where information is fast and easy to access, and so we should take advantage of it. The tip that the Global Fashion Agenda provides is to communicate with customers and stakeholders about the challenges faced as a brand. As a result, we can ask them the following questions: what are the impacts of the crisis on your business? What are you doing to be more sustainable?
3. Raise the bar on supplier relationships and shift to equal partnerships
We are mindful about the prerequisites of innovation, collaboration is no doubt one essential ingredient of it. Suppliers are most probably your best way to support sustainability targets and pre-empt future disruptions. Other tips at this stage are: co-investing or sharing financial incentives with suppliers that are able to cope with environmental and social issues. Strategic partnerships are key to success and the strategy is definitely to be environmentally friendly!
4. Address stock planning to prevent overproduction
One of the saddest effects of COVID-19 pandemic is that both the cancellation of orders and unsold products have caused an excessive inventory level in warehouses. Promoting sustainability allows the emergence of new business models and it is definitely important at the beginning and end of the value chain, to strive for a circular business model. This matter incentivises the industry to foster innovative solutions to deal with unwanted clothes. What are the latest innovations about upcycle and recycle products?
5. Accelerate the digitalisation of business processes
Technology and digital experiences are the solution for many matters nowadays. Especially in the fashion industry, it can make a difference when reaching key targets. AI systems, scaling made-to-order approaches and virtual showrooms can add to cash flow, inventory management and reduce waste creation, why? Since it prevents overproduction. The update of the CEO Agenda 2020 states the crisis is actually allowing fashion leaders to re-evaluate the lifespan of current collections and relax seasonal drops to minimise price reductions, wastefulness and inventory costs.
6. Shape the E-commerce infrastructure of the future
COVID-19 has emphasised the importance of the online channel in many sectors, especially the fashion sector. The McKinsey Global Fashion Index (MGFI) forecasted that around 35-40% of sales from April to September 2020 will arrive through online channels. Efficient and robust e-commerce consists of improving sizing algorithms, digitalizing logistics and considering transportation methods, packaging and return minimization which make them a sustainable solution.
“Only by rethinking and rebuilding systems in a collective effort, will we find ourselves in a just and sustainable future post-pandemic”
-Eva Kruse, CEO, Global Fashion Agenda-
The latest news: those who are making it in practice
🔼 Supplier relationship, digitalization and cooperation are the approaches used by Zalando. A few days ago, a new global sustainability standard for fashion brands and retailers announced a collaboration between the fashion retailer, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and Higg Co to accelerate sustainability industry-wide. Zalando will make sustainability assessments through the SAC’s updated version of the Higg Brand & Retail Module, and it is going to be mandatory for brands selling on its platform.
🔼 Alessandro Michele is the brand’s creative director of Gucci who made recently a re-evaluation and a significant change to the business model. “I will abandon the worn-out ritual of seasonalities and shows to regain a new cadence, closer to my expressive call”. After all, being creative means to think of customs.
🔼 “Collaboration over competition” is how Adidas and Allbirds responded to lower the carbon footprint. Climate change is a global phenomenon that cannot be solved better than with collaboration. The two competitors for footwear in the sport performance category, declared their intention to create the shoe with the lowest carbon footprint ever recorded.
Amazing, isn’t it?
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