Sustainability is more than just a buzzword when it comes to fashion – it’s a defining factor. And brands are taking note of its increasing importance by rethinking how they source, produce and recycle materials. Fashion brands, in particular, are increasingly winning new business in the sustainability sector due to these efforts. They’re uncovering significant segments that have been searching for ecologically minded retailers to support. Let’s see how that looks!

Fast Fashion Faces Facts

Fast Fashion mass produces top trends cheaply and then discards whatever isn’t sold. In India, it creates an environmental nightmare:

And around the world, the calls for discontinuing that part of the industry, as a whole, have become deafening. Instead, consumers seek sustainable fashion:

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 now, the goalpost has moved beyond carbon neutral to trailblazers seeking a carbon positive existence. So, it makes sense that others are directing a good bit of focus toward this effort.

Fashion Brands Making Sustainability a Priority

Though not an exclusive list by any means – and one that shifts day-to-day in this competitive environment, there are a handful of leading brands capturing lots press around their sustainability efforts.

·      H&M has a sustainability commitment that focuses on healthy workplaces, healthy ecosystems and animal welfare

·      Louis Vuitton “is compelled to respect that which is the source of excellence of Louis Vuitton products: our shared natural resources. “Great design, sustainability, and a great business do go hand in hand,” says Michael Burke, Chairman & CEO of Louis Vuitton.”

·      Nike’s Move to Zero is its “journey toward zero carbon and zero waste to help protect the future of sport. We exist to serve athletes everywhere and that’s why we’re on a mission to help ensure a healthy planet.”

·      Burberry has crafted a Responsibility Agenda “designed to drive positive change and build a more sustainable future” by 2022.

·      Prada focuses on impact, via its Sustainability Group: “The Group combines the distinctive elements of its know-how with principles inspired by the enhancement of people, the reduction of the environmental impact of its activities and the promotion of culture.”

·      Amazon has myriad efforts in play, and appear to be targeting every possible sustainability angle.

·      Adidas is focused on ending plastic waste. “Any new plastic created today, including polyester, can be a plastic waste problem tomorrow. Since 2012, we’ve innovated ways to tackle the problem of plastic waste in how we make our products. By 2024, we’ll be off virgin polyester completely.”

·      Chanel is investing in sustainability via ecological startups focused on creating clean tech.

And these brands are not only capturing press, but consumer buzz around their efforts as well:

What Is Trending & Why

Looking at the larger conversations that relate to “sustainability” and “fashion,” we see lots for brands to pay attention to in the category – and why:

·      Beauty brands are trending in context, as the two categories are so closely related. Fashion brands finding environmentally minded cosmetics brands to partner with will capture lots of great press – and consumer love.

·      Fashion Week captures constant buzz, mostly as attendees struggle to justify it. “61% of fashion week participants reported feeling some guilt feeling some guilt about the toll the whole event, and their involvement in it, takes on the environment.” Brands participating in these events need to tread carefully, as it may damage whatever carbon footprint they’ve attempted to create.

·      And then we see consumers demanding sustainable fashion. A demand that really cannot be ignored.

And it’s important to expand the scope of one’s search beyond a given category. As the sustainability conversation in the fashion silo offers a limited (though super relevant for retailers) perception.

Sustainability Beyond Fashion

Taking things beyond fashion to explore the larger sustainability conversation, we’ve historically seen many categories prominently mentioned as well.

Last year, when we explored “sustainability,” we did see fashion leading the tide, but many other important industries were represented as well, including supermarkets, the packaging industry, renewable energy, electric vehicles, resorts and hotels – and so much more. Take a look:

Beyond that, recycling, as its own category, encompasses many facets that retailers of every variety will want to watch closely. There are new technologies and materials in play that could revolutionize manufacturing for many.

We’d love to show you how to stay on top of these changes from market and consumer intelligence perspective. Reach out for a demo! The next trend in your category is a mere social tsunami away, after all. Best to be prepared ahead of its crest!

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