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Fashion and its growing inclination towards sustainability

"Fashion industry is one of the biggest contributor towards global economy, with an annual worldwide revenue of well over £1 trillion. It aids millions of jobs around the world. A recent study by Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group predicts a rise of 63 per cent in overall fashion consumption between 2017 and 2030, with increasing demand from developing countries leading swiftly towards a point where over 100 million ton of apparel and footwear will be purchased each year. This growth comes at a huge environmental cost. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation research describes how, if growth in fashion"

 

Ellen MacArthur

 

Fashion industry is one of the biggest contributor towards global economy, with an annual worldwide revenue of well over £1 trillion. It aids millions of jobs around the world. A recent study by Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group predicts a rise of 63 per cent in overall fashion consumption between 2017 and 2030, with increasing demand from developing countries leading swiftly towards a point where over 100 million ton of apparel and footwear will be purchased each year. This growth comes at a huge environmental cost. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation research describes how, if growth in fashion continues along its current trajectory, by 2050 the textile industry would account for around a quarter of the world’s total allowable carbon emissions, when considered under a scenario that would hold global warming below 2°C. In order to circumvent the eco impact, leading companies are coming up with sustainable solutions to chart green growth.

Towards sustainable expanse

Zara

 

Lyocell for example is a fiber made from wood pulp and has a low environmental impact in its production and processing when compared to alternatives like cotton, although this comes with higher costs. Because of its growing sustainable properties, companies like Patagonia and Banana Republic are making it a feature within their product lines.

Aiming to shift demand towards valuing fewer, higher quality products, which can command higher prices and result in lower total resource use, designers and brands are increasingly following the mantra of Dame Vivienne Westwood, ‘Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.’ WRAP’s Sustainable Clothing Action Plan finds out that making clothes that last just three months longer can help cut 3 per cent from the carbon, water and waste impact of companies in the fashion supply chain. Thanks to new age tech tools, one can produce unique variants of common designs with customer input. Brands including Nike, Adidas, Vans and Converse each now have their own online create-your-own offerings.

Circular economy principles

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that an industry-wide move to adopt circular economy principles could add €160 billion in value by 2030. Despite the fact that there has been a cultural shift, where some items that were once second-hand are now considered vintage, still only 18 per cent of clothing in the EU is currently reused or recycled. But there are signs of positive with the industry becoming more collaborative and circular. Major retailers including Zara and Marks & Spencer are introducing collection points for old clothes at their stores. This has increased opportunity for recycling. Materials like wool have been recycled for hundreds of years, but mass production technologies are now advancing so that more fibre recycling is becoming far more cost-effective. This is closing the loop, helping turn waste fabrics back into useful materials, cutting down the need to produce virgin fabrics.

In line with this, companies like Rent the Runway are using e-commerce models to turn expensive dresses, often bought and only worn once, into something that can be worn once by many people. MUDjeans leases its products for a one year term, with free unlimited repair services, after which they can be changed for a new pair and returned for recycling or upcycling. Moreover, countries such as Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda all are now looking for preventing the import of second-hand garments and shoes to protect their domestic industries.

 
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