Sustainability is key for today’s businesses’ success. The end consumers want it and the Earth requires it. However, it is a topic that is difficult to understand and even harder to tackle. WeAr has asked experts across the industry, from fiber manufacturers to retailers to activists, to shed some light on this topic. We have grouped their discussion points into several key topics. These are the complete answers and summarised in WeAr’s issue 60.
CINDY MCNAULL, GLOBAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, CORDURA
A driver for Invista’s Cordura brand fabric is in providing solutions that are durable and long-lasting in order to help minimize waste and reduce water and energy consumption. We believe in responsible manufacturing to use resources effectively and ultimately that ‘Sustainability Begins With Products That Last’. Consumer education to understand sustainable choices will be key to the long term success of brands.
GORDON GIERS, CEO, CLOSED
I don’t think there is sustainable fashion really because clothing and the consumption of clothing as such is not a really sustainable and ecological act.
But we’re doing the best we can to make it as sustainable as we can. We’re trying to be very respectful with our environment. We’re using less water when we wash our clothes, when we are developing environmentally friendly washing techniques and dying techniques. We replaced down with Ecodown from Thremore, which is made out of PET bottles. And it is important I think to be on the case the entire time and to chase new techniques and to follow that idea the entire time.
We’re moving our production closer to our main markets. So we are trying to reduce our carbon footprint where we can.
And we’ve always had a very long-term strategy with everything we did really, with product development and also with relationships we’ve built with our partners. And working with many of our long-term suppliers still after more than 20 years is our probably most sustainable achievement.
I think it’s our general approach to things. We do want to make things as good as possible. We want to make them cool and spot-on trend. But we also want to make sure that we do something that is environmentally friendly and, as we call it today, sustainable.
I think what also needs to be looked at is everything around the product, packaging. How do we ship stuff from A to B? And do we fly it? Do we put it on a boat? What’s better? We’re currently replacing our packaging to recycled paper, and any plastic to biodegradable. It’s important to apply the concept not only onto production but the entire supply chain.
SAFIA MINNEY, MBE, Founder, PEOPLE TREE, advisor & author of ‘Slow Fashion’ and ‘Slave To Fashion’
“The fashion industry is responsible for 7% CO2 global emissions, more than the aviation and shipping industries combined. Fashion and textiles need to become zero carbon by 2030, ideally 2025. It means producing and buying LESS new clothes. We will be buying second hand, renting and swapping clothes, repairing and making our own. When we do by new we will want clothes produced ethically & sustainably – ideally, they will be handcrafted, through Fair Trade, and made from 100% natural and organic materials, to ensuring that fashion promotes better livelihoods for farmers, artisans and workers. People Tree & other sustainable brands show that another way is possible. Fast fashion, is a 40 year blip in history, that put profit before social and environmental justice – it’s a missed opportunity to make fashion a powerful tool to lift people out of poverty – instead we lift glasses of micro-fibre filled water to our lips and toast our failing capitalist system – I think we all hope for better? Shopping ethically and less new stuff isn’t enough, we need to get political too and build a new system. “
RENEE HENZE, GLOBAL MARKETING DIRECTOR DUPONT BIOMATERIALS
In the sustainable fashion industry, emphasis is often placed on the responsible sourcing and composition of materials. Although highly important, other critical factors must also be taken into consideration to maximize eco-efficiency. Garments should have strong performance benefits, including stretch recovery, durability, color retention and softness, so that consumers don’t toss them out after a few wears. Businesses should take note that sustainability and performance do not need to be mutually exclusive – on the contrary, they can co-exist and ultimately elevate each other.”
PAOLO BODO, CEO, Nipi ITALIA
In general, we believe we are putting a strain on our planet. Fashion, in particular, is a highly polluting sector and involves strong consumption of resources.
For us at THINDOWN®, the world’s first and only 100% natural down fabric, entirely produced in Italy by NIPI (Natural Insulation Products Inc), a conscious utilisation of raw materials is key. From the beginning we have paid the utmost attention to transparency and sustainability. THINDOWN® has been RDS certified: Responsible Down Standard which guarantees the traceability of the whole production chain and STANDARD 100 certified by OEKO-TEX® in its highest class, Class I.
Constant research, quality, innovation, technology, are the founding elements of the brand, resulting in our latest product development: the first 100% post consumer regenerated down fabric, THINDOWN® Recycled. A clean version of THINDOWN® offering equal performance and features, but planet friendly. Down has a longer lifecycle than garments and duvets, offering chances to a circular management of raw materials.
Nowadays the real luxury in fashion is represented by sustainability and, with the environmental emergency we are experiencing, sustainability must be an urgent call and the starting point of the whole creative process. The sustainability paradigm should be leading the entire supply chain: from the choice of raw materials, to producing process, distribution, up to the way it is sold and finally disposed from final consumers.
VICENTE CASTELLANO, Executive Chairman NORTH SAILS
As far as north sails is concerned, we are using recycled plastic in our outerware, as much as we can, and we have now reached more than 70% of production. At the same time we have eliminated all the plastic from our ecomm packaging and replaced it with cotton bags to be reused in daily life. Starting from next season, we are introducing new fabrics such as bamboo, viscose and seacell, that are much more sustainable options than normal oil-derived fabrics. Customers have the right to know more and to choose from better alternatives.
These are just few examples: it is a long process, and we are just at the beginning of it, but we strongly believe that it’s essential for the future of our planet
The most important aspect of sustainability is knowledge. Only when people are informed and have options to choose from, then we can say we have reached our objective. We are investing most of our marketing budget into awareness on plastic pollution creating sustainability relataed communication campaigns, we are devolving 1% of our revenues to ocean family foundation to support ocean protection and yarn sourcing is becoming a very important task within the company. We are at the beginning of a long journey but we do believe in this commitment
It’s a new business model and we are satisfied with it.
KRISTINA SZASZ, CHIEF PRODUCT & MARKETING OFFICER, S.OLIVER
Sustainability is more important than ever for the s.Oliver Group. As a family business, it comes naturally for s.Oliver to take responsibility for social concerns, manufacturing processes and safe products. Until recently, these measures have largely run in the background and have not been actively communicated. We are now experiencing a rapid increase in the awareness and interest of our consumers in the subject of sustainability, which is also shown by the requests to our customer service. That’s why we’re going to be more communicative here.
To further strengthen this issue, the Group has its own s.Oliver Corporate Responsibility Board, which is based on top management level. This board has set up the WE CARE program, which bundles all sustainability activities across the Group. In this committee we have also developed a new product strategy and set ourselves binding targets for the procurement of sustainable materials across all divisions.
When it comes to cotton, for example, we at s.Oliver have been working closely with the sustainable cotton standard Cotton made in Africa for many years and have also been a member of the Better Cotton Initiative since this year. We have already almost achieved the target set for 2019 with a volume in the seven-digit range. Another important component is the production of denim, in which we are increasingly focusing on environmentally friendly finishing techniques with significantly reduced use of water and chemicals.The first products will be available from 2020.
We will also introduce our own WE CARE label in 2020. This label will be applied to all products that have been developed and manufactured according to strict criteria with a special focus on sustainability.
ALESSANDRO BIASOTTI OOF
We experience the consequences of climate change firsthand every day and we believe it is our duty now to reconsider the relationship between man and planet. The fashion industry can no longer have a passive approach to the topic. This is why we are trying year after year to offer our consumers not only an increasingly fashionable but also more sustainable product.
Usually you choose a garment only by looking at it but you fall in love with it by touching it with your hands, feeling it and experiencing its consistency. Only a very important detail cannot be perceived in first person: the sustainability of the raw materials used.
For the stuffing of our garments we have chosen for several seasons the Sorona Eco wadding certified by DuPont which offers a reduced dependence on fossil fuels and a limited environmental impact. The fibers of this wadding are 60% degradable and guarantee comfort, elasticity and softness to clothing.
Moreover, for our most fashionable garments we use an eco leather and an eco fur that give a brighter look to the outerwear and accessories, confirming once again more and more animal friendly.
Today it is however difficult to be able to totally control the origin of the garments producing without waste, for this reason we are working more and more in the search for new materials totally and / or partially recycled.
Sustainability for a brand is definitely a complex objective that includes various actions of responsibility by different parties but is certainly achievable.”
BECKY WILLAN, Given London
The McKinsey, State of Fashion Report, found 66% of consumers were willing to spend more on sustainable brands, however sustainable fashion represents just 1% of the entire industry. Fashion brands should make repairing easier than rebuying and increase resale opportunities. A more holistic approach in the value chain is needed to drive positive change, an inhouse team dedicated to sustainability would help this. The beauty industry, L’Oréal ties in sustainability and sales targets and offers a performance related bonus for managers on sustainable products.
Heiko Wunder, CEO Wunderwerk
The fashion industry is one of the largest polluting industries, with many ranking second after the oil industry.
In short, sustainability means thinking beyond this moment and taking humans, nature and the environment into account with the consequences of people’s actions.
So, it is obvious that something has to change. This applies to the clothing itself, but especially to the manufacturing processes, the dyeings, washes and finishes and packaging. If one imagines that e.g. If you can easily use more than 100 liters of water on a pair of jeans and 1 kg of chemicals can be used to make just a single pair of jeans, then you can easily imagine what the consequences are if in Germany alone about 110 million jeans are sold a year. The water and especially the chemical consumption of (raw) cotton before that process is not even included in that calculation. On top, at least for the transport, each piece is packaged into a plastic bag (“polybag”).
Most brands do not react until they realize that the end consumer has moved on. And that happens right now. Sustainability has arrived, not as a short trend, but long term because consumers now know that things can not go on like this. This is generally about sustainable cultivation and production methods, about the plastic and packaging consumption and also about the respectful treatment of humans, nature and animals.
At Wunderwerk, we use organic cotton right from the beginning and exclude toxic chemicals completely, which means that we do not even put them into circulation and therefore don’t have to filter them out afterwards. This also has the huge advantage that nature, rivers and workers do not even come into contact with these poisons, hazardous waste.
For our jeans, no toxic chemicals such as potassium permanganate or chlorine are used, we work extremely water and resource saving, so we generally have no Jaans with a water consumption of more than ten liters. Since one year we even have decresed our water consumption of dark washings from three to 0.70 liters, and the water is now completely recycled, so that the water is no longer consumed but needed – that is an enormous step that only works if brands and producers work very closely and have the same goals.
Wunderwerk was the first fashion brand to use the fiber “Modal Edelweiss” from Lenzing, Austria, because besides the very sustainable production, it is also made from “domestic” beech wood, ie even considered “regional”, while cotton and also regenerated fibers made of eucalyptus wood, the raw materials are procured from far away. Of course, regionality is also an important aspect, which is why the focus on manufacturing within the EU (approx. 70%) is miraculous.
Since 2010, I have looked into alternative packaging and so, since the first deliveries in 2013, we have been supplying all of our jeans unpacked but with an organic cotton tape and, since 2015, most of our T-shirts, sweatshirts and pullovers with a compostable cellulose film which is also resistant to water and heat. This is very important for the transport from the producer countries, even if though for Wunderwerk these are not the Far East countries but mostly countries such as Greece, Italy or Portugal.
ROBIN YATES, NOBIS
The environmental impact of fashion industry cannot be overlooked. It has been reported that the fashion industry accounts for 10% of the carbon emissions globally. Brands have the power, and the responsibility, to choose materials and products that have been manufactured in factories that control their carbon footprint. We all need to take responsibility of how garments are made and how long they last. We also need to think about what happens after we stop wearing them. We should not forget that there is still a lot of work to be done to improve the living and working conditions of garment workers. Issues related to labor conditions are persistent and brands need to be more diligent when it comes to creating humane, fair and safe working environments.
If brands won’t make the choice, the consumer will. Many consumers are choosing sustainable products and demand to know where and how the products are made. It has become pivotal for brands to build socially and environmentally responsible business models. We all need to do our part to drive a much-needed change in the fashion industry.
DAVID KARSTAD, Vice President Marketing + Creative Director POLARTEC, LLC.
For the fashion industry to truly address sustainability means taking the closed loop model to heart. Improved manufacturing efficiency, more attention to waste caused by over production, and lowering the footprint of our retail cycles are all key pieces to long term, systemic change for the better.
At Polartec, we’ve adopted this ‘whole system approach’ to sustainability that combines production methods, recycled inputs, and distribution efficiencies. This way we work towards a Triple Bottom Line objective for our products: use recycled or natural inputs; create durable and/or re-purposable products to extend lifecycle; develop full biodegradability for a product’s end of life.
As an industry, we must change what we mean by ‘natural resource.’ Natural fiber versus authentic fiber isn’t as clear of a choice as it seems, as the cost in resource (especially water) can outweigh the benefits of natural fibers, while synthetics have the greatest promise in regards to durability and recyclability. Balance, of course, is key. However, there’s a lot of new science being created with the potential to radically alter how we solve one the planets greatest challenges: the preponderance of post consumer/industrial plastic. This intractable problem of too much plastic may actually turn out to be what stimulates innovation of fibers, fabrics, and fashion itself.
As our society demands greater and greater accountability in how we use our resources, sustainability may well be the only viable go-forward business model for the fashion industry. Evolve or die. Literally.
Sustainability is an overused word, especially in marketing, it infers a lot and can mean so little. For example a mill can state that it has reduced its water consumption by 30%, but the question is what is the figure that it is 30% less than? And is that water coming from a sustainable source ? It would be more accurate to measure water consumption in litres used to make 1 metre of fabric and it would be better to have transparency of water use throughout the chain. Sustainability should be about ensuring we can sustain the infrastructure of life including plants animals and people without harming the environment in a fair and conscious manner I fear not all companies claiming sustainability are meeting this criteria.
The most important aspect is undoubtedly water, this planet needs it and it will run out if we as humans do not make some real changes. The industry has a major part to play in this and we need to look below the surface detail, the first step is to look at the source, where it is coming from and is it sustainable. One aspect of water we rarely talk about is ‘grey water’ the fresh water we need to use to dilute the effluent before returning it to its natural state, this needs to be taken into the overall calculation of water use. At Vicunha we created a water project that identifies the use of water throughout the entire production chain, this has allowed us to focus our attention on areas where we can improve on water use. Of course reducing , re-using and recycling makes economic sense, they all go towards creating greater production efficiency.
In the food sector, we have orientation labels or seals, so that the customer can make a well-considered purchase decision. But in the fashion industry there are so many aspects – how does the end consumer orient himself? The biggest sustainability aspect in our society is that everyone wants everything at the lowest price. But there are no sustainable jeans for 19EUR. Of course, there has to be a rethinking of society, but communication must be honest and authentic. Product recall is also an issue, because sustainability starts with purchasing and thus the right conditions have to be set between industry and commerce. Sustainability starts on a small scale: how much paper do I use, how much water – there is no end goal, but sustainability is a permanent process.
Patrick Duffy, FOUNDER, GLOBAL FASHION EXCHANGE
We are in a Climate Crisis caused in large part by the fashion industry so it should be strictly required that it protect the people and environment that power it. The Fashion industry is complex and has many moving parts, all powered by people, most of whom live below the poverty line. Poverty and environmental issues go hand in hand, as environmental damage leads to decreased food production, improper human waste disposal and shortages of vital resources. Shifting the paradigm and creating an infrastructure that focuses on economic security and empowerment of people so that they can live healthy lives, support families, build communities, get access to tools that help them live in a healthy environment as well as survive increasing environmental disasters, will provide the foundation necessary to building a healthy supply/value chain and create a healthy business model for all.
ENRICO ROSELLI, CEO, LA MARTINA
Actually sustainability is an issue that every one individual, company or government has to urgently address: many are saying that we are putting at risk our home planet, The Earth, but this is a misrepresentation because in fact we are putting at risk the conditions on this planet which make it possible for human beings to live on. It shouldn’t be regarded as a noble aspiration but rather an an urgent subject, related to our own survival.
When we hear the word “sustainability” we tend to think of renewable fuel sources, reducing carbon emissions, protecting environments, but it is in general the evaluation on how we can keep the delicate ecosystems of our planet in balance. In short, sustainability concerns how we can protect our natural environment, human and ecological health, while driving innovation and not compromising our way of life.
Also the fashion industry then should address this issue and in particular with respect to the negative effects caused by
– Materials non eco-friendly
– Treatments and dyeing processes
– Disposal of the products, production waste, etc
Actually I don’t think our business is one of the most serious causes non-sustainability or pollution, but as said everyone has to do something and thus fashion too. Moreover fashion has also a high capability of influencing people and this can lead to a faster pace to address this subject. For all these reasons, although we can’t be considered as a sustainable company, we are taking into consideration these matters.
It is good and bad at the same time that now this cause has attracted so much interest, since -being trendy to be enviromental friedly – companies are pushed to express or show that sensitivity, but sometimes it is very clear that it is just a facade and activities in this respect are done just to attract consumers’ attention (and consumption) but then empty in the substance.
Also, I must say that it is impossible today to be fully sustainable: but this shouldn’t be regarded as a reason not to start, each company has to start from something and then implement every day something more.
Another good thing is that sustainability sometime overlaps with being more efficient, reducing waste (of time, energy, material, etc), which is something that every company should seek besides or beyond their environment sensitivity.
In the end, then, our agenda provides:
– Sourcing strategy which favors closer factories vs far and cheap ones (which gives us a better knowledge of their processes, quality but also shorter shipments)
– Higher control over the factories we work with in order to use more and better those who prove to be more sustainable
– Ongoing research on material and processes to impact less and less on the enviroment (however we are using 90% cotton which is per se eco compatible, but we have to deepen our knowledge on the origin of the same)
– Development of more and more digital tools and interconnections among the different areas in the company to improve efficiency (avoid digital silos, implementing analytics, datasharing, AI)
Finally, all these subjects have actually an impact over the business models, but not just in terms of the communication and story telling (which represent also part of the strategy of a company), but also (with many negative effects in the short term) dis-intermediating many activities, creating a more direct contact between the company and the consumers, which also gives rise to a stronger feeling of social responsability (our fairplay campaign).
In this last respect we are quite active and this is not absolutely unrelated to the concept of sustainability, defined also as “the process of people maintaining change in a balanced environment, in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations”. As you can appreciate this doesn’t relate just to the effects on the environment but to the final aim that the changes and innovation be done keeping our main values and conditions as human being.
We consider that the respect towards the other, fairness, loyalty are all values which are fundamental to preserve the mentioned harmony and balance, but also to ground an authentic respect of the environment
Tricia Carey, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, DENIM, LENZING:
The fashion industry needs to address sustainability. What does it mean exactly? What are the most important aspects of sustainability and why, and how can addressing them enhance a business model?
The apparel industry is looking at sustainability in a holistic way from fiber to finished garment to consumer use with consideration to environmental and social aspects. Supply chain partners are developing collaborations supporting innovations to reduce environmental impact. Starting with the right ingredients which reduce the impact on the environment, through waste reduction in supply chain to reduced environmental impact of consumer use and finally end of use options. Reduce, recycle, reuse is not just a clever phrase, but a way that apparel industry is evolving.
A great example of addressing sustainability are programs related to circularity, like TENCEL™ x REFIBRA™ Lyocell. Brands like Kings of Indigo, Closed, DL1961, Boyish, Country Road, Levi’s and others are using TENCEL™ x REFIBRA™ Lyocell to bring textile to textile recycling to market. TENCEL™ x REFIBRA, which is derived from cotton scraps to make a new lyocell fiber, maintains the strength and aesthetics of original TENCEL™ Lyocell, as well as a fiber identification for transparency.
MARINA TESTINO, CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR
The fashion industry needs to address sustainability – but what does it mean exactly? In your opinion, what are the most important aspects of sustainability and why, and how can addressing them enhance a business model?
Addressing sustainability requires rethinking the whole system of fashion, that is, fashion’s social, cultural, ecological and financial areas. For that, I understand all fashion’s stakeholders – i.e. citizens, public and private sectors – would have to reach an agreement on what sustainability implies. As of today, there is no governmental definition of sustainable fashion. Generally, it is regarded as an ethereal word, similar to a hotchpotch. Does it refer to ecological integrity? Alternative fashion systems? Sustainably made products? Social justice? Actually, it comprises all of these. We just need to sit down and find the checks and balances between all the fashion industry’s areas. To me, sustainability is a balancing act. Following the United Nations 87’s Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, “sustainable development meets the needs of the present without comprising the well-being of future generations”. With this in mind, I would say that to address sustainability in the fashion industry we shall rethink its system and make it more balanced.
In order to rethink the fashion industry’s systems we require structural and transparent modifications, starting with consumer’s education and information. Consumers need education to make informed choices while purchasing new clothes. Once this is tackled, the industry itself would need to reassess its production practices in terms of social justice, products, systems, productivity, ecological integrity, waste management, textiles, financial processes, but most importantly, liabilities. Governments’ push the industry with their regulations but no one is telling consumers, actual leaders of the industry’s practices, what to do or choose. If the demand of clothes increases, the industry’s offer will also increase to cover those requests (requests, that of course, imply economic opportunities for manufacturers, brands, etc.). We need to reserve that. Start again. Or in other words, be able to properly address sustainable fashion not as a trend but as business model that sustainable in all its aspects: social, cultural, ecological and financial.
Choosing which aspects of sustainability are most relevant represents a dilemma for the industry, consumers and even myself. What is more important and/or urgent, for instance, addressing social justice and ethical production practices or the industry’s water consumption, carbon footprint or waste management? The answer to this, again, seems linked to finding the checks and balances between all areas: creating an industry able to provide sustainably produced products, ethically made, being economically-sustainable and profitable. How? That’s even more complicated as we cannot start from scratch. Therefore? The implementation of strategic and structural modifications on the industry’s current business models is key. I believe the most relevant aspects regarding sustainability integration into business models include, among others, consumers and organisations’ values, investment in R+D and new technologies, internationalisation processes and, most importantly, binding corporate and social responsibility rules. To reach a consensus on how to integrate all these aspects naturally, we require a social agreement between all drivers influencing sustainability: governments, regulatory and markets pressures, value creation and innovation, equity, authenticity, functionality, localism and exclusivity.
At this point is when I ask myself: can the fashion industry ever really be sustainable? If all parties involved have a clear call to action, the answer should be YES. Here is where, again, all industries stakeholders’ have to play their parts. New generations (GZs particularly) are currently demanding for those changes. And consumers are always right, no? That’s why we are starting to see new trends promoting sustainable resource management, design for sustainability, cleaner production and resource efficiency, sustainable transport, eco-labelling, sustainable procurement, sustainable marketing, sustainable lifestyle, waste management, etc. But that’s not enough. The fashion industry can no longer wait for consumers’ shifts, the change needs to be brought from the inside to be real. I believe there is hope if all start making changes. Of course, this is my personal opinion but what’s clear to me is that neither ‘fashion victims’ nor polluting our planet shall ever be in fashion.
Just the idea of writing a sentence including the words fashion and sustainability seems like a contradiction within itself. Yes indeed, sustainability has become fashionable but sustainable fashion? Could supporting a fair produced, ecological piece “spark more joy” – as cleaning expert Marie Kondo would say – than a less sustainable counterpart? My answer is yes, if you are part of the process. Our industry has been trying way to long to match the foodprint of the direct retailing giants, turning pieces, in between collections etc have been an desperate approach to persuade an widely oversaturated consumer to take again a little bit more. We need to explain the consumer, why we do what we do and make them part of the process. Look at our heritage and connect to the future. If necessary adapt your sources, rise your prices and provide an open calculation. But Most of all, communicate, share your thoughts and be honest with the consumer. They realize anyway when you try to greenwash, and they will turn away. Therefore make them part of the journey, explain your choices and most important, get into a dialogue if you want to stay.
ASOS – JANINA
Textile is not sustainable. No matter how hard we try, it is a dirty business. The textile industry has a huge impact on the environment and climate: according to a study, it was responsible for 5 to 10 percent of global pollution in 2016- and about 8 percent of global climate impacts. Let’s not fool ourselves. It is most sustainable NOT to consume.
Precisely for this reason, we as one industry must consider how we can become more sustainable and how we set common standards that at least go in the right direction.
We should try the burden on the environment, animals and humans as low as possible. Together we have to push this as industry and the big player first.
Not only the costumer has to demand or ask for it, that we have to change, we also have to change by ourselves and communicate the importance of the topic to the costumer.
We have to look at the production and its conditions for the human being. In addition, the environmental impact and pollution is an massiv issue but also the use of resources.
I see faster renewable materials that consume less water in focus, such as Tencil and Hemp.
Organic Cotton and similar are not an option in the long term. For 1kg of cotton, an average of around 11.000 liters of water is needed worldwide! That’s 256 km3 of water every year. This amount is enough to supply all people with 120 liters of fresh water per day. Organic cotton needs less but still very and permanently too much, apart from the huge plantation fields that are needed and for wich the forest are cleared.
When we look at synthetic fibers, many of those are made of oil as raw material. Even water- based PU’s , that are called as environment friendly, still consume a large amount of water.
So one thing is to see how we handle the resources and the processing and production to keep the pollution load down.
Then, of course, an elementary aspect is the working and living conditions of the people in the producing countries, as well as the impact on their health. The desire for abundance and dumping in the Western World has had and still has devastating consequences.
With generation Now we are faced with a new challenge. This generation is used to get everything it sees and wants immediately. So how do we fulfill this need and remain relevant to the customer without inciting the ever-shrinking cycle of a product and thus the waste and mass consumption.
So if we produce products with lower impact, the water and CO2 balance as well as the chemical pollution of groundwater and soil will be driven upwards by the increased amount of consumption.
Thirty years ago, you bought a product of the same category 1-2 times a year. Today, the customer wants a new outfit for every new weekend party.
I am convinced that there is a lot of potential in product sharing and product leasing. In big cities, car sharing and Co are already a thing since years and can no longer be imagined. Many do not need and do not want their own car, their entire costs, but in the same time, always have one available, when they need it.
This can and will be transferred to other products. The resell scene in streetwear, but also with luxury brands in Gen Now is growing and growing and enjoying increasing popularity. You have a coveted product, wear it 2-3 month and than you are bored and want something new. To afford this, you (need to) sell the old.
The products hardly lose value because they are on the market in small quantities, are well maintained and have good quality. We should take advantage of these trends. To offer the customer the cycle and thereby also take away the trouble of trading by yourself.
We already have platforms like Stock X and Klekt. New platforms for leasing products are also emerging. Here I see the future. You have a virtual wardrobe that is filled with new items and you can lease those for a month. Or you pay a monthly fee ( membership etc) and serve you from the wardrobe no matter what article.
One one hand, products are worn longer and used, it thus longer in circulation and less quantity must be in the market. In addition, then the brands are required to make a product more durable and higher quality. If these are than more environmentally friendly and produced with full transparency, we are on the right path.
JAMIE MARGOLIN, FOUNDER, ZEROHOUR
The most important aspect of sustainability is stopping the mindset of constant consumption. You can make a product as “eco-friendly” as possible but if you market it with the same consumeristic “you need to BUY MORE MORE MORE” you are still causing damage to the earth. The truth is the most sustainable fashion is simply not buying anything that you don’t need. The new business model for sustainable fashion needs to NOT be based on constant growth and a constant increase in profit at all times. The culture of constantly “needing” new clothes when we don’t actually NEED it needs to end, no matter what material the clothes are made out of
STAMO, MBA FRSA, Founder, Ecoluxe London
Our legacy to our children is a paradise destroyed by previous generations.
Part of the problem is the second most polluting industry after oil (WTO, 2018) : The fashion industry where a piece of fabric produced in Africa is shipped to Asia for processing and sold all over the world.
The work sustainability exists as a term since the late 80’s (sustainable growth) and ethical and later sustainable fashion since mid-90’s.
Fashion is all about design and Ecoluxe London has defined sustainable fashion as the creation of a fashionable item, always taking into consideration the most appropriate combination of social, environmental and financial parameters at any given time.
In simple words, Sustainable fashion is all about People – Planet – Profit
Minimal carbon footprint, renewable sources, respect of traditional crafts & customs, reinforcement of local economy: we believe in a clear ‘corporate consciousness’ and a responsible approach to the whole supply chain, where a company considers all the above parameters per product and the end users their consumption and product life cycle: A win-win situation for our planet.
Our strategy of continuous improvement relies on a holistic, mindful approach to Responsible Innovation™, which is based on three pillars – creativity, competence and citizenship – and extends to our culture and systems.
We look at water consumption as well as chemicals, dyestuffs, and eco-toxicity measures and we have an Environmental Management System in place, certified to an international standard. We have obtained Life-Cycle Assessments (LCAs) for all our 25,000+ denim products and certified Environmental Product Declarations (EPD®s). These allow our customers to make responsible sourcing choices and led to the creation of independently devised Product Category Rules (PCR).
ISKO Earth Fit™ is our top-end denim collection, the only one worldwide awarded both EU Ecolabel and Nordic Swan Ecolabel. We have also developed a recycling strategy, recently implemented with the launch of the R-TWO™ platform, which includes fabrics with a mix or blend of reused cotton from production loss and recycled polyester from PET bottles.
SARAH DITTY, POLICY DIRECTORY, FASHION REVOLUTION
In practice this means considering the way clothing is designed; what materials are used; how those materials are sourced; how clothing is manufactured; who is involved in these processes and what economic and working conditions they are facing; how products are transported across the world; how quickly we are consuming and discarding our clothes; how we look after our clothes; what happens when we dispose of them; what resources and chemicals are used or emitted in these processes and so much more.
The science is clear. We have very few years to mitigate the most disastrous consequences of climate breakdown. Therefore it’s a business imperative to address sustainability. It’s literally about future survival of the industry and ourselves.
FRIEDERIKE VON WEDEL-PARLOW, FOUNDER, BENEFICIAL DESIGN INSTITUTE, BERLIN
Sustainability for me, is about enriching and embellishing the world and not only about efficiency and sufficiency. Fashion is an incredibly powerful tool – every 6th person worldwide is working in fashion and textiles including all stages from field to retail. If we would turn all these jobs into fruitful and supportive ones, imagine how we could change the lives of all these people and their communities for the better. The fashion industry today is one of the biggest climate-killers. Instead, fashion could contribute positively to the biosphere by using clean and healthy ingredients, energy and processes.
Let’s envision fashion to be the result of intelligent and healthy circular systems and beneficial design that profits everyone and everything involved. A system that creates positive effects for people and environment with responsible growth for all businesses which are part of this transformative change.
LIA KES CARMI BERMAN, FOUNDER, KES
At KES, sustainability means being mindful of the impact we have on the earth. We utilize eco-friendly practices in our manufacturing by recycling garments, using biodegradable materials, and partnering with local plant-based dyers. Our clothes are meant to reflect a lifestyle – not just the latest trend. Each of our pieces can be worn confidently in different locations and circumstances. By creating clothes that are both eco-friendly and timeless, we embed sustainability into the very core of our collection, and encourage thoughtful consumerism. Our mindful production enables us to provide women with clothes that will serve them well and can be worn with pride. KES offers a collection that unites style with spirituality, creating pieces that our clients can connect to on a deeper level. By revolutionizing how women relate to our brand, we ultimately enhance our business. Women who wear KES create a measurable change within our world.
Agostino Poletto, General Manager Pitti Immagine
Yana Chervinska, Founder of the clothing brand Yana Chervinska and the first platform of conscious fashion in Ukraine Sustainable Fashion Pad
The fashion industry needs to address sustainability, but what does it mean exactly? What are the most important aspects of sustainability and why, and how can addressing them enhance a business model?
Sustainable development issues need to be addressed not only to the fashion industry, but also to any business, organization, social movement or festival – this is the future. Many brands, from fast and affordable fashion to luxury conglomerates, are starting to launch special areas of sustainability and open information about the production and logistics to consumers. The flow is no longer possible to stop. For me, the most important moment of sustainability begins with work with the consumer and his/her education. By bringing to consumers information about the dangers of production and the disposal of cheap and low-quality clothes that wear out quickly, we will change the very approach to the consumption. The sustainability factor is becoming increasingly important for business. Here, I will quote The Blueprint “Fastcompany.com website gives optimistic figures: 75% of buyers in five countries (USA, Great Britain, China, France and Brazil) called sustainability a major factor for fashion apparel manufacturers. (The Nosto online sales platform report shows that if 52% of American and British users talk about the importance of ethical fashion, only 29% are ready to buy eco-friendly clothing)“.
Olga Johnston Antonova, sustainable fashion consultant, educator and journalist. Founder of Circular Fashion Russia and Ecostyle360, co-creator of SustainYourStyle, board member of Global Sustainble Fashion Week.
To understand sustainability in fashion you need to think of a garment not as a product but as a process and consider its full life cycle and how it affects people and environment at every stage: from sourcing raw materials to manufacturing, transportation, retail, user– and “end of use” stages. Ideally, every step must be carried out ethically and ecologically – in harmony with people and nature – and produce economic and social prosperity.
For retail it means to:
– stock sustainable and ethical brands
– reduce the amount of plastic and packaging material
– use and reuse eco friendly packaging
– use “green” transport and energy
– introduce size–measuring technologies for perfect fit
– use wardrobe inventory technologies to help customer upgrade their wardrobe
– introduce clothes takeback for resale, upcycling and recycling
– provide mending and repair
– stock ecofriendly care and laundry products
– enable customers to design own clothes
– sell virtual outfits
– become a place where “shoppers” consume experiences, create and connect IRL