How the fashion industry turned its focus to sustainable fashion
Climate change is one of the most pressing social issues of concern to all the world. The younger generation of consumers, especially Gen Z, which makes up about 30% of the population, are deeply concerned about how their lifestyle affects the world around them. According to a new IBM study, about 70% of respondents said that it is important for them what position the brand takes on the eco-agenda, 69% of consumers are willing to pay more for recycled items in order to reduce their negative impact on the environment. On store shelves and product labels, more and more often you can find phrases: ‘organic’, “eco”, “ecofriendly”, “not tested on animals”, “fair trade labels” and so on. It has already been proven that the presence of such tags and signs significantly increases sales.
The world's two largest retailers, H&M and Zara, have been repeatedly criticized for their negative impact on the environment and their use of cheap labor. According to One Green Planet, the textile industry ranked second after oil in terms of environmental pollution. To which Pabla Isla, CEO of the Inditex group of companies, announced that by 2025 the company promises that 100% of the cotton, flax and polyester of their brands will be organic or recycled. The H&M Group, in turn, aims to achieve 100% sustainable manufacturing by 2030. For 7 years the company has been successfully implementing a program for the collection and recycling of clothes - “green boxes” all over the world, and in 2015 Zara launched the #joinlife initiative to take care of the environment. Adidas draws attention to ocean pollution by releasing running shoes from recycled ocean debris, Levi's is recycling jeans. Brands are joining alliances in order to achieve their goals, one of the most visible initiatives is The Fashion Pact, which has brought together more than 200 brands to date - from Prada to Gap, from Chanel to Zara.
The global goal of the pact signatories is to achieve complete environmental neutrality by 2050, that is, fashion companies are committed to switching to renewable energy sources - this will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions,and will stop using disposable plastic items by 2030. Pact signatories should also work with organic cotton suppliers that do not use pesticides and respect the ecosystems adjacent to the farm.
Sustainable fashion is not only about environmental friendliness, it is also about working conditions for vulnerable segments of the population. Such giants of the industry as Levi's, Gap, Nike, Converse transferred their production to developing countries in order to reduce production costs. It is no secret that production standards are often violated in sewing factories. One of the worst cases, which once again made us think about this problem, was the collapse of a multi-storey clothing factory in Bangladesh in 2013, where 10 brands of the democratic segment were making clothes. Then more than 1,100 people died.
Today these companies pay special attention to improvement, wages and workers' rights. Ethical production is an element of a socially oriented brand policy, which is important to buyers.
Artwork by George Rousse Seoul - Blue Circle, 2016
Text by Daria Mudrova