Sustainable fashion continues to be big news within the retail industry. It’s a subject that our clients are very concerned about and the issue certainly isn’t going anywhere any time soon. In fact, the subject seems to be picking up momentum, as the pressure for retail businesses to reduce their own impact on the environment now comes from both consumers and the government. But is this pressure enough to push businesses into making real change and bring the recent trend of throwaway fashion to an end?
In a recent survey conducted by the environmental audit committee (EAC) it seems the answer is yes, the fashion industry is eager to make a difference. The “Fixing Fashion” report, which was published earlier this year, showed that 91.6% of businesses agreed that customers are showing a growing interest in environmental issues and are now actively looking for fashion retail businesses to take responsibility for making change. Which surely can only be a positive move for the industry.
But if the call for sustainability is so high, why isn’t more being done to make positive change right now? Well, the EACs report goes on to say that whilst consumers are taking an interest in sustainability, retailers are finding that they aren’t necessarily willing to pay more for sustainable goods. And with 60% of businesses citing cost as the biggest obstacle to becoming sustainable, the difference between consumers wanting change and being willing to pay for it could stop retailers from putting sustainability at the top of their agenda.
34% of businesses said that a lack of the right knowledge and skills was also a factor in holding back change, as well as the inability to accurately measure sustainability or assess the impact that changes would make. But should this be the case, especially when the simple act of reviewing packaging options can make such a difference. Too many products are over-packaged unnecessarily with plastic wrapping or oversized boxes, so a small change here could be a significant one.
Likewise, isn’t it time to look at the products themselves, with businesses taking more care when choosing fabrics and fibres, opting for sustainable or recycled materials where possible or using fabrics that come with lower carbon or greenhouse gas emissions. Even reviewing the businesses carbon footprint and aiming to ship fewer products abroad and source less material from overseas can all help make sustainability achievable.
There’s no doubt that sustainable fashion will remain at the forefront of the industry’s agenda, and continue to attract diverse opinions from both businesses and consumers – but the underlying news is that even the smallest of changes can help make a difference and the time to do it is most definitely now.