Fashion must be Ethical: Sustainability post-Covid19

We strongly believe that sustainability is not a trend anymore and that the near future will imply a lot of changes for many corporate entities in the fashion industry. We also believe that there is a true opportunity to change the fashion industry, and that we should take it without hesitation in regards to the climate crisis. 

As reported by IMD, there is no “one right solution” on sustainability. It will depend on the companies’ ambitions and resources. However, many actions can be taken to improve their ethical practices.

An example of a key actor who decided to start the change early on is the Ellen McArthur Foundation; a UK registered charity that aims to implement a circular model. They launched the "Make Fashion Circular" program in 2017. This program aims to bring together leaders from across the fashion industry (including brands, cities, philanthropists, NGOs, and innovators) to stimulate the level of collaboration and innovation necessary to create a new textiles economy that aligns with the principles of the circular economy. 

 The implementation of this circular model relies on three main areas for fashion: 

  1. Clothes are made from safe and renewable materials. 
  2. Increase the lifetime and usage of the products by implementing new business models
  3. Old clothes are turned into new ones instead of being discarded.

 By combining these 3 criteria, this model provides access to high-quality and individualized clothing. It also increases the trust regarding the processes for both consumers and companies in regards to the  promise of a durable product. Along these lines, the model captures the full value of the garment before, during, and after its use. 

According to this model, the materials which constitute the new generation of clothing should be natural enough to be recycled. This allows their value to be (re-)captured at different levels. The designing of clothes should therefore align with recycling processes in order to avoid waste. Additionally, the model runs on renewable energy as resources are kept in the system,  and the use of pesticides and plastic-based fibres, which would harm the environment, should be minimized. 

The price of clothing should also reflect the true cost of the garment, which means brands are completely transparent in the materials, and production methods used. A reusable model would also regenerate natural systems without heavy pollution, which would factor out health-related issues for textile workers and customers. Finally, a circular economy is distributive by design. It unlocks many new opportunities for suppliers and businesses, creating a thriving ecosystem where everyone participates in the wider economy.

Other promising solutions include new forms of fabrics such as organic cotton, linen, wool and even spider-web silk used by designers like Stella McCartney. Due to the global pandemic situation in recent months, brands with excess inventory have found new ways to solve the major issue through outlet pop-up stores. Brands like Veja, Girlfriend Collective, and Stella McCartney are committing to transform their practices and innovate in many different ways.

Brands should align their strategy with sustainability, showing real commitment, and prioritization. They should address compliance in their industry, addressing waste management and transparency along their supply chains. They should be proactive, pioneering in sustainable solutions. And finally, regarding finance, businesses should quantify their return on sustainable investments.

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