Leading retail brands are using social analytics research to support new eco-friendly fashion offerings. The results are inspiring from a sustainability standpoint. And they’re downright exciting from a customer experience standpoint!
With social insight regularly recognized for its predictive trend analysis and consumer understanding capabilities, brands are rapidly analyzing target market needs and taking immediate action. Let’s see how it looks . . .
Eco-friendly Fashion: The Fast Fashion Cure
The conversation online revolves around environmentalism and sustainability quite often these days. And “fashion” consistently registers as having negative connotations in the sustainability context:
It makes sense – Fast Fashion is a main focus for activists, because it’s a huge waste creator. And it’s attracting lots of attention these days.
What is Fast Fashion? It’s apparel that’s priced to move, made cheaply with rapidly changing designs. And its discards are littering the globe.
Only an estimated 1 percent of materials used to make clothing is recycled. What is sustainable fashion though?
Sustainable fashion has no set definition, but embraces practices that reduce the environmental impact of how clothes are manufactured and marketed, including what dyes are used, how water waste is handled, use of recycled materials, transporting and storing the clothing, sales, and even the working conditions in factories where clothes are made.
Companies establishing sustainable fashion practices promote clothing that is “biodegradable,” “eco-friendly,” “organic,” or labeled “fair trade.”
And we see every age engaged in this conversation online. Most recently, we had climate strike week making that message loud and clear. And following hot on the heels of London Fashion Week protests as well.
And brands are paying attention.
Which ones are leading the eco-friendly fashion charge? There are lots actually. The brands capturing attention online are fluid, but we have a handful of solid contenders to share. These brands are massive – and massively well known. And their efforts line up with what consumer segments are seeking these days.
With a collection that’s consciously focused on sustainability, H&M’s aptly named Conscious Collection is sourced from sustainable materials and is the talk of sustainability crowd online.
H&M also understands that its audience is interested in the life cycle of clothes. They increasingly want items that are made from sustainable materials, but that isn’t enough. What happens to discarded textiles? And how can brands help consumers feel good about their purchases from beginning to end?
H&M partnered with I:Collect (I:CO) to acquire unwanted garments from consumers to send for recycling. More specifically, H&M has a three-pronged approach for dealing with the issue. Its garments are either:
- Reworn – Clothing that can be worn again is marketed worldwide as second hand goods.
- Reused – Textiles that are no longer suitable to wear are converted into other products, such as remake collections or cleaning cloths.
- Recycled – Textiles that can’t be reused get a new chance as textile fibres, or are used to manufacture products such as damping and insulating materials for the auto industry.
And then H&M sweetens the pot, offering 15% off folks’ next purchase for each bag of textiles (any textiles, not just H&M garments) brought in to the store to be dropped off in its convenient recycling boxes:
15% off for doing something consumers want to see done anyway? That offers amazing promotional potential and it’s ecologically conscious at the same time. Smart.
Another, quite different, but equally intelligent ‘consumer understanding’ approach is an online clearinghouse where consumers can obtain second-hand luxury.
Because although consumers are very interested in sustainability, that doesn’t mean they don’t love shopping as well. They do. They want fashionable, sustainable choices. And the ability to obtain luxury goods in a way that helps them sleep at night is a win-win.
Burberry has partnered with luxury consignment shop, TheRealReal to create that experience.
“This new partnership will help buyers and consignors join Burberry and The RealReal in making fashion more sustainable,” shared Allison Sommer, The RealReal’s director of strategic initiatives. And also more accessible to a new segment of shoppers who would never pay full price for these items – at least not the first time around.
Once Burberry gets them in the door, with the help of TheRealReal, the likelihood of them purchasing something new the next time around is much higher than it would be otherwise.
The RealReal reports demand for Burberry has increased 64% year-over-year, with Millennial and GenZ customer searches rising fastest on its site. In addition, the ThredUp 2019 Resale Report states that Burberry is the luxury brand with the best resale value.
Burberry owners who consign items to The RealReal will get an exclusive, white-glove personal shopping experience at select Burberry stores in the U.S., which will include a British High Tea experience. “This will directly drive our consignors to shop Burberry in the primary market. As people consign, it’s also freeing up space in their closets for new purchases.”
The stakes are obviously high as we enter this sustainability age, so brands are making drastic gestures to accommodate. Take Prada, for example . . .
Prada is putting its money where its mouth is – rather, where its sustainability efforts live, by securing a loan that holds it to its goals.
The five-year sustainability loan, which is reportedly the first of its kind in the luxury industry, allows for the Italian fashion house to alter its interest rates on an annual basis if it achieves certain eco-friendly objectives.
These three objectives, as chosen by Crédit Agricole, are if Prada employees train or work for a certain amount of time, if the fashion house uses an adequate quantity of sustainable nylon substitute Re-Nylon, and if a certain number of Prada stores receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold or platinum certifications.
They’re at the forefront of the sustainability-linked loan market. And it’s a good time for it, as it just broke the 100-billion-dollar barrier.
Surprised to see sustainability tied to a fashion empire’s bottom line like that? How about terraforming? With automated theme discovery, brands should be aware of all kinds of sustainability applications coming in to play. And should be ready to pivot to incorporate these ideas in their own planning.
If NASA can recycle materials for spacesuits, then surely there’s a way for every brand to participate.
And you can be certain there’s an expectation to do so. If you aren’t buying recycled products, are you really recycling, after all? Many answer that with a resounding, “no!” So, finding a way in to that world will be important.
But we don’t need to tell that to Benetton. They’ve been all about sustainability for some time now.
At the Milan fashion show last month, United Colors of Benetton showcased a trench coat made of paper and recycled fibres. Benetton India CEO Sundeep Chugh described how the brand remained circumspect at a time when fast fashion became a rage the world over. Today, he says, the brand feels vindicated.
From its eco-friendly craft paper shopping bags down to the color of its brand (green), Benetton is serious about its place in the world, ecologically:
As is Max Fashion . . .
Every brand here understands that a “brand’s commitment” to sustainability is under increasing scrutiny. And they can either “contribute to” creating change or will soon become a brand to “avoid.”
Luxury brands are noticeable frontrunners, but sustainability and eco-friendly fashion is really anyone’s game right now. It’s a top trend to be evironmentally minded. That’s so Gucci, indeed.
Reach out and we’ll show you how to find your place in this ecological universe – and other trends to keep top of mind as you start to plan for 2020!