Patagonia´s famous ad in 2011. Don´t buy it if you don´t need it.
Millennials are driving companies to sustainable practices even their business model is based on volume. An example is The Social and Labour Converge Project signed by leading fashion companies such as H&M, Gap, Nike, Adidas, Levi Strauss, amongst others. Also Primark joined in 2015 the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (does Primark fit there?) But we are still far from avoiding disasters like Rana Plaza, in 2013 Bangladesh, where more than 1.100 workers died.
Fashion retailers that produce in Asia or other low-cost labour countries have many issues to manage the sustainability of their suppliers network. Even doing manufacturing audits or supplier evaluation, many suppliers outsource some of their production to other smaller suppliers that are not able to ensure all the requirements regarding labour and human rights. Low-cost fashion (fast-fashion) puts too much pressure across the value chain.
Slow fashion, circular economy, ethical fashion, upcycling, vegan fashion… Transparent and sustainable business models in the fashion industry are growing and are not just trends. Long tailers are the ones that are taking advantage of it thanks to their agility and flexibility, but also top leading fast-fashion retailers are investing on sustainability and are also showing what are their suppliers. H&M Conscious Collection, Inditex Join Life or Green to Wear + and Adidas collab with Parley for the Oceans (trainers made from recycled ocean plastic) are a few examples.
But can Fast-Fashion be sustainable?
Millennials are the most sustainability-conscious generation. Recent studies from Nielsen and Deloitte show that millennials are most willing to pay more for products and services seen as sustainable or coming from socially and environmentally responsible companies. As millennials are a rapidly growing consumer market, and an influential one at that, we look at how companies change to bring them on board and how this awareness about sustainability affects products and production in various sectors (Credit Suisse, Millennials Drive Sustainability, 17.01.2017)
Millennials demand for sustainable products, a visible and transparent value chain, from “sheep to shop” is important to them. They are savvy customers surrounded by data. Millennials love information. This is not only about Social Responsible Companies, but understanding that the product is sustainable because of its fabrics, its manufacturing process, its logistics approach, its design uniqueness, the commitment of the suppliers, the ecological approach in the stores… New generations are looking for eternal symbols and experiences, and not just ephemere-materialistic products. (Read more about Modern Liquidity and Millennials here).
This is a selection of fashion retailers that are betting for Sustainability, real sustainable and transparent fashion:
Patagonia´s value proposition (source: thefashionretailer)
Everlane was founded in 2010 in San Francisco, California, USA, as a pure player with the aim of selling its own designed, affordable luxury apparel at a cheaper price by going direct to consumers. Read more about Everlane and how it went offline” here.
Reformation is a sustainable, vertically-integrated women’s clothing brand based in LA, California.
We put sustainability at the core of everything we do. Our factory uses the most efficient, eco-friendly and pro-social technologies and practices we can get. We invest in green building infrastructure to minimize our waste, water, and energy footprints. By providing on-the-job training and opportunities for growth, we also invest in the people who make this revolution possible. (Reformation/whoweare)
Ecoalf is a Spanish sustainable fashion company created in 2012 by Javier Goyeneche. The company proudly title themselves as conscious clothing brand that recycles waste such as discarded fishing nets, PET plastic bottles, used tires, coffee, postindustrial cottons and wool to turn it into high quality yarns and components for clothing, accessories and footwear. Along with 14 joint ventures Ecoalf collects waste from the oceans and land from the Mediterranean coast to recycle them to create products that promise to be of highest design and quality (wedreambusiness.org).
Almasanta is a marketplace offering a high-end selection of sustainable brands from all over the world, carefully chosen by their trendsetters. Its selection includes brands such as Tabula Rasa, Escudo, Laneus, Ayni, Laura Siegel or Mes Demoiselles.
It was founded in 2016 in Spain with the objective of fusing fashion and sustainability. Its pillars are: Ecological, Handmade, Fair trade, Organic, Local production, Social integration and Recycled. Almasanta donates 1% its revenues to charity.
Founded in 2007 in Germany, Armedangels is a sustainable fashion brand that only uses sustainable materials such as organic cotton, organic linen, organic wool, recycled polyester, Lenzing Modal® and Tencel® and works with organizations such as the Fair Wear Foundation, Fairtrade and Global Organic Textile Standard.
In 2004, brothers Raan and Shea Parton founded Apolis with a simple idea that business can create social change. Their travels abroad immersed them in personal stories of struggle and survival and inspired them to create a business model that bridges commerce and economic development. Along with their commitment to global advocacy, they also understand the importance of sourcing and manufacturing locally. Whether it means partnering with manufacturers in Uganda, Peru, Bangladesh, or around the corner in Los Angeles, the Partons have used their model of “advocacy through industry” to empower people to determine their own future.
Edun was founded in 2005 by Bono and his wife Ali Hewson. From its inception, Edun’s mission has been to source sustainable production and encourage trade in Africa by mixing its creative vision with the richness and positivity of this fast-growing continent. The sourcing of each collection is a mix of innovative eco solutions (organic, recycled, and upcycled fabric) and artisanal custom-made fabric developments and embellishments made in Africa. Edun is part of LVMH group since 2009.
Veja is an ecological and fair trade sneakers and accessories company founded in 2004 in France. It works with cooperatives of small producers of organic cotton and social associations in Brazil and France. Veja’s fabrication costs are 3 to 4 times higher than other footwear brands because the trainers and bags are produced with dignity. Veja tightly controls its production and only produces orders placed six months in advance. There is no extra stock produced. Production has to adapt to the availabilty of organic cotton which may vary. Veja’s packaging is made of recycled and recyclable cardboard.
Other interesting sustainable fashion brands are:
- Preserver Clothing
- Les Sublimes
- Amour Vert
- Krochet Kids
- People Tree
- Nudie Jeans
- Raven + Lily
This is a great picture I found at Pinterest regarding Sustainability from the point of view of the customer. 2018 is here, a new opportunity to invest in the Long term, shaping a better and sustainable future.