In his first exclusive for WhichPLM, Jacob Lane offers his advice for fashion businesses to act more sustainably in 2021. Jacob is a fashion and lifestyle writer from London, and is about the developments and innovations around sustainability.
2021 has seen further outcry over climate change and the poor sustainability efforts made by some of the world’s largest corporations.
Fashion brands that continue with pre-pandemic mass production will find themselves struggling to encourage sales, as consumers move on to support more sustainable companies. To keep up with the times, fashion brands need to dedicate 2021 to redefining sustainability.
In this article, we have rounded up five ways in which fashion brands can act more sustainably in 2021 to create a better future for people and our planet.
Invest in Effective Recycling
350,000 tonnes of textile waste is sent to landfill each year for incineration. This creates extensive carbon emissions and is having a huge impact on the health of our planet. With statistics like these widely available and consumers more informed about fashion waste than ever before, change is coming.
Research is showing that consumers are increasingly purchasing clothing that is sustainably sourced. As such, it is imperative for brands in 2021 to adopt sustainability within their work – whether it be through making more efforts to recycle in the workplace, adopting renewable technology, or using sustainably-sourced clothing materials.
Consumers Want Transparency
Transparency is a game-changer. When fashion brands are transparent about their practices and their efforts to be more sustainable, they often attract more loyal customers who are happy to support them for the long-term.
It therefore goes without saying that fashion brands in 2021 that are transparent about their processes will see more success due to increased consumer trust.
Consumers want to have all the information available to them so that they can visualise the impact that their clothing choices have on other people and the environment.
Transparency helps give power to the consumer, allowing them to make environmentally conscious choices that provide satisfaction, sales, and support during every step of the fashion process.
Upcycling to Reduce Waste
Since the start of lockdown in 2020 (here in the UK, as well as in other countries), more consumers than ever before have turned to up-cycling. This is the process of transforming existing clothes or textile materials into something new – whether it be a new product, item of clothing, or material.
Upcycling helps to keep these products out of the landfill, providing longer-term value for both the consumer and the planet. Fashion brands should, therefore, encourage up-cycling of their garments by designing multi-purpose wear with materials that can be re-purposed later.
Second-Hand Shopping is in Fashion
As well as supporting environmentally-friendly fashion brands, consumers are embracing second-hand shopping. And, while the pandemic may have temporarily put a stop to people visiting charity shops and rifling through the racks, that hasn’t stopped bargain-hunters from taking their searches online.
Second-hand shopping apps like Depop and ThredUp saw a huge surge in users throughout 2020. And this trend is only expected to continue in 2021 as the younger generations become increasingly informed about wasteful fast fashion and feel inspired to make a change.
Eco-Labels to Back-Up Sustainability Claims
Educating consumers on their environmental impact and informing people about the true sustainability claims of various products is a great way to encourage sustainable purchasing choices.
As we know from inspiring climate influencers like David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg, education informs and empowers people to make the right choices for themselves and the planet.
Eco-labels are a great way for fashion brands to educate their consumers about the piece they are buying and it’s social and environmental benefits. These must be certified by third parties such as the Forest Stewardship Council, Fairtrade or Energy Star but, once that process is complete, can help convey transparency to consumers.
Fashion brands need to start addressing some of the world’s major problems in their clothing manufacturing, such as poverty, climate change, globalisation, and resource depletion – and eco-labels are a great step in the right direction.
Consumers are more dedicated than ever before to changing their buying habits to improve the planet, wanting to buy clothes that have not only been sustainably manufactured but also where all workers have been paid fairly and the resources used have been carefully and sustainably sourced.
If 2020 taught us anything it’s that, by working together, we can each play our part in improving the lives of others with fair trading and environmentally-conscious purchasing choices.