It’s no secret that fashion is one of the world’s most polluting industries. The Ellen McArthur Foundation uncovered that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
Almost two years ago, we wrote about the 5 positive trends that will shape the future of fashion and, whilst the challenges of the current crisis make it difficult to look too far ahead at the moment, we wanted to step back and reflect on the fundamental changes coronavirus has led to when it comes to reinventing fashion.
We’ve taken a closer look at the trends and figures and we feel optimistic that 2021 can be a groundbreaking year for sustainability within the fashion industry - here are 3 trends on how the fashion industry can work towards a greener future this year:
1. Shoppers demand ever-more sophisticated digital experiences and interactions
Key report to read: The State of Fashion by Business of Fashion
“Fashion executives see digital as the biggest opportunity by far for 2021, with 70% of executives expecting growth of more than 20% in their e-commerce channels”.
The acceleration of this trend (which was very much full steam ahead in the pre-covid-19 world) continues to champion the fashion industry as traditional clothing retail has been suffering a lot with many store closures and people being reluctant to gather in public spaces. Many brands are using this opportunity and the digital advances to streamline, adapt and improve their services. It will be interesting to see how fashion retailers use tech to their advantage, to create a personalised and multi-layered retail experience that excites customers. As Rania Masri says, “Retail isn’t dead, but boring retail is dead.”
It is becoming clear that brands need to put the customer at the heart of their operations and plug in digitally, as the report states that the use of Virtual Reality, Instagram shopping and livestreams doesn’t show any sign of slowing down - 1.4 million people tuned into Burberry’s Tmall livestream, with many products selling out in an hour.
Here at BLANC, we are constantly trying to adapt, improve and integrate our online and offline user experience. Since Covid hit we have unfortunately been unable to serve our tailoring customers in the traditional way, but we have been brainstorming all along to innovate in this space, and find a way to bring you the same experience and results in the safest way.
We have launched a new tailoring initiative enabling customers to interact with our tailors via WhatsApp and video calls, so we could help them with measurements prior to sending their garments to us via our contactless home collection service.
2. Fashion brands are increasingly concerned about their aftercare impact
Key report to read: Fashion on Climate by McKinsey
Over the past few years, the focus when looking at the fashion industry was mostly on sourcing, manufacturing, transportation and retail distribution, but we have recently seen a shift with fashion brands being increasingly concerned about their aftercare impact. The consumer use phase (where clothes are worn, washed, dried, ironed, etc.) represents a third of the overall fashion environmental footprint and 20% of its carbon emissions.
The majority of the environmental impact from the aftercare phase derives from the water and energy usage when we wash our clothes, the chemicals found in traditional detergents and microfibres that shed from synthetic garments every time that they are washed. Fortunately, there are easy changes that we can make at our own individual level to make our clothes last and reduce our fashion footprint, from simply washing on lower temperatures, to using environmentally friendly detergent. You can take a look at our step-by-step guide to eco-up your laundry routine, and close the loop from home!
Many fashion houses are also taking it upon themselves and acting upstream to make sure aftercare is not an afterthought. With the BLANC Lab, we are working together with brands to test fabrics and garments before they are commercialised.
We have a very close relationship with a growing pool of clothing designers so that we can work hand-in-hand to develop clothes that are going to be wet cleanable, and designs that can stand the test of time. Our mission from the beginning has always been to make clothes last and decrease toxicity in cleaning and the environment, so we are (naturally!) delighted to see more organisations highlight the importance of aftercare in the transition to a more circular economy.
By providing eco-cleaning, alterations, and repair services to fashion brands and individuals alike, we want to play our part and help change the industry for the better.
3. Consumers are calling for transparency and social justice along supply chains
Key report to read: Consumer Survey by Fashion Revolution
The Fashion Revolution Consumer Survey provides us with so many interesting insights on how consumer behaviour has evolved over the past couple of years - but one of the key trends highlighted in the report is that “Consumers are calling on fashion brands and governments to ensure transparency and respect for human rights and the environment along supply chains”.
This report was produced by Fashion Revolution, in 2020 who commissioned a survey of 5,000 people aged 16-75 in the five largest European markets, including Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. It shows that 69% of people want to know how their clothes are manufactured (up 10% from 2018), and that 75% of people agree that fashion brands need to do more for the lives of those creating their clothes (up from 72% in 2018). This need for transparency is one of the pillars of social justice within the fashion industry and the consumer demand for it is evidently on an upward trajectory.
So let's make some noise and join the revolution! As consumers, if we do our best to shop sustainably, hold brands accountable and continue to ask companies for more transparency about their supply chain, social practices and eco credentials, we can help push transparency and social justice forward. On a daily basis, we can vote with our feet and wallets to choose products that are better for the environment and for our health - while making sure not to fall into the greenwashing trap.