Natural fur and leather are gradually losing ground in the market – consumers are becoming more and more interested in what their clothes are made of and what damage to nature caused their production. Clothing manufacturers have to change radically due to these ideas, otherwise they will lose customers and profits.
The Fashion Revolution movement has published a rating of “transparency” of fashion brands Fashion Transperency Index, which takes into account such parameters as:
- the working conditions of employees,
- the solution of problems of gender inequality
- attitudes towards sustainable development.
This year, Adidas, Reebok, Patagonia, Esprit and H&M have the best results – 61-64%. The lowest rating had Longchamp, Max Mara, Mexx and Tom Ford – they all scored from 2% to 0%. Positive dynamics with growth from 17% to 22% showed Dior, Nike, New Balance and Marc Jacobs.
“The Fashion Revolution movement does not evaluate quantitative indicators in terms of environmental friendliness and the ethics of brand production, but how much information about the observance of human rights, environmental policy and environmental impact is in the public domain. Brands share information publicly, but they are not ready to reveal all the cards, especially when it comes to decent pay, working conditions in factories and “transparency” of the supplier chain, ”comments Styliana Paracha, Fashion Revolution coordinator in Luxembourg and an independent consultant on environmental and ethical fashion.
Destructive power of fashion
Every year, 150 billion pieces of clothing are produced in the world – twice as many as 20 years ago. Globalization, production speed, fierce competition, resource exploitation, increasing distances between producers and consumers make the fashion industry one of the most polluting industries. Nothing disappears without a trace – less than 1% of this number is processed into new things, and 73% slowly decomposes in landfills or burned. In Australia, for example, six tons of textiles are sent to landfill every 10 minutes. Do you imagine how long polyester decomposes? 200 years.
The destructive power of fashion covered the planet with the largest environmental catastrophe in the late 1980s – due to the irrigation of cotton fields in Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea was shallowed. Once the former fourth largest lake in the world, it has lost a third of its volume. On April 24, 2013, the building of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed, where Mango, Zara and Benetton had their productions, and 1,134 people died.
New relationship with clothes
The problem of overproduction and the crisis of confidence pushed retail giants into a discussion on the subject of environment and environmental friendliness. Awareness becomes the key theme of the 21st century and it becomes important for customers, or at least it is interesting for them who, from what and in what conditions sews T-shirts and jeans that they wear every day.
“Retailers and manufacturers do not invent a new mode of consumption, they follow consumer trends. Without buyers, brands will cease to exist. Figures show that consumers prefer brands that are serious about environmental and ethical production, ”adds Styanea Paracha.
The trend of conscious consumption is gaining momentum. According to the report of the Internet clothing search browser Lyst, which over the past 12 months has processed more than 100 million inquiries, buyers’ interest in “sustainable fashion” has increased by 66%. According to the Nielsen’s 2015 Global Corporate Sustainability report, 73% of millennials are willing to pay more for eco-friendly and ethical products. Now they are worried not only by the fashionable design and the name of the designer, but also by the environmental friendliness of production and the social responsibility of the manufacturer.
Year of awakeness
Regardless of the size and segment of the market, businesses need to take a proactive stance on social issues, meet consumer demands for “radical” transparency and, most importantly, find the courage to revise their strategy. On April 22, on Earth Day, Fashion Revolution, along with Burberry, Gap, H&M, Kering, Levi’s and Inditex, signed the Charter of the fashion industry to combat climate change at the UN World Conference. Brands recognized the emergency situation and committed themselves to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.
Large corporations began to hastily look for a way to support the growth of their business, while creating the appearance of an environmentally friendly operation that allows them to maximize production, sales and profits. According to Peter Dawyer, the author of the book “Will Big Business Destroy Our Planet”, one of the ways to achieve this goal is to use the language of “ecological growth” and the economy of a closed cycle. Burberry, H&M, Nike, ASOS, and other major textile and fashion manufacturers have joined the Global Fashion Agenda as strategic partners, announcing their desire to move towards a closed-loop economy through reuse and recycling programs.
The Guardian edition calculated that with the current quality and quantity of recycling technologies, H&M should take about 12 years to use only 1 ton of recycled material. Textile processing is a complex and time-consuming process: it is extremely difficult to separate blended fabrics, and cotton loses quality during processing. H&M says in its advertising campaign that “95% of old clothes can get a second life.”
H&M promotes many initiatives and step by step strengthens its image as an ethical company – online sale of vintage clothing, Global Change Award in the field of environmental design. The company’s sustainable development plan begins with the idea of correcting their own mistakes and changing the global situation, and ends with an increase in production and an increase in profits.
“We realized the complexity of the picture of the world only a few years ago, when the effects of our endless consumption became apparent. Fashion unites and organizes people through a system of visual codes. The system says: this is all you need in order to be seen, recognized and accepted. The problem arises at the moment when the same system changes the rules of the game and revises its values every few months. And we again strive to “find ourselves” and feel the need to consume. The circle is closed, “- says teacher and designer Hanieh Sabokbar.
The mass market is trying to rectify the situation and put the consumer in the center of attention, the society gradually realizes the consequences of its daily choice. The process of market transformation is inevitable and we are moving steadily towards it.