Critical Factors in Sustainability in Fashion Industry

by Leonidas Fabian
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Consumer education is one of the most critical factors in fostering sustainable business practices. Currently, one-third of consumers need help distinguishing between sustainable and conventional products. The challenge becomes even more daunting as consumers get older. One in three Baby Boomers and one out of five members of the Silent Generation need help finding sustainability information. However, this presents a tremendous opportunity for fashion brands. However, many of them are overwhelmed with the complexity of their supply chain and need more information to make the best possible decisions.

Consumers need to be empowered by information to drive change in the fashion industry.

Consumers need to be empowered with information if the fashion industry is to change and thrive. More than building sustainable businesses is required; consumers need to know how they can contribute to sustainability through their actions. They need to know how to look for products that align with their values and take steps to make this a habit.

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on the fashion industry. Though online purchases rose in response to store closures, many consumers were worried about their finances and were curtailing their spending on non-essential items. It’s estimated that this pandemic has reduced one-third of the fashion industry’s revenues this year. That translates to $640 billion in lost sales.

Fashion brands need to catch up with changing consumer demands. With exponential growth in the use of digital technologies, consumers are seeking to influence brands. They want to be involved in the decision-making process, belong to a brand, and impact its products and services. Consumers are also more concerned about their looks and the perception of their goods on social media. The fashion industry must respond to these changes proactively and promptly.

Sustainable business practices are a question of stakeholder agendas.

Sustainable business practices in the fashion industry involve collaborating with various stakeholders, including industry players, consumers, and community groups. These stakeholders are responsible for defining sustainability in the fashion industry. Together, they collaborate on tools and measures for measuring the effect of different actions. These tools and measurements should provide a common language for stakeholders and help prevent repeating mistakes.

While traditional business models aim to create value for shareholders, sustainable businesses focus on creating value for all stakeholder groups, including employees, supply chains, and civil society. In addition, sustainable business practices seek to improve the quality of life for people, animals, and the environment. Developing a sustainability agenda will help companies adapt to upcoming changes and deal with evolving stakeholder agendas.

To improve the performance of the global fashion industry, stakeholders need to be supported in developing the knowledge and capacities needed to make sustainable decisions. In addition, stakeholders must be involved in developing circular solutions. This will create new jobs, enhance local economies, and prepare the industry to meet future global market demands.

Market Opportunity

The market opportunity for sustainability in the fashion industry is vast. This new business model makes sense for many reasons: it benefits people and the environment while reducing the amount of stuff we keep in our homes. Also, it enables us to reuse clothes, which increases the value of the products we buy.

Consumers are increasingly concerned with sustainability issues and want products that will last. This is particularly true for the younger generation. These consumers are savvy enough to distinguish between greenwash marketing ploys and the real impact of products on the environment. They also want to be able to wear their values proudly. If fashion brands respond to this demand, they can capture a substantial portion of this rapidly growing market.

The fashion industry will continue to grow over the next decade. However, the trends that drove its growth in the past will overwhelm the benefits of bio-based materials and new business models. For example, the market will continue to grow in unit sales, but this growth will accompany increased environmental challenges, such as water scarcity and microplastics.

A design-led approach to sustainability

The fashion industry contributes to the world’s economy and is one of the most significant users of human resources. However, it poses many challenges to the environment and those who work in the industry. To address these issues, the paper’s authors recommend a more holistic approach to sustainability. A design-led approach to sustainability in the fashion industry could lead to improved environmental outcomes.

In addition to increasing awareness about fashion’s environmental and social impacts, designers also need to consider the financial aspects of sustainability. The fashion industry has a complex and multi-tiered supply chain. Very few brands own upstream factories, and most outsource their final production to third-party companies.

Fashion has been said to reflect and lead culture. As such, the fashion industry can exemplify how creativity and respect for boundaries lead to sustainability.

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