An excellent article on trends in relation to sustainability in the fashion business: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/sustainable-ethical-fashion-business.
Here are some of the highlights from the article:
· What should the priorities be for the apparel business? Labour conditions, water footprints, fibres and carbon.
In order to implement systemic change, there must first be a market for sustainable products, and currently that is quite small. Companies need to heighten customer awareness of where clothing comes from, how it is made and the social and environmental impact of its production. One panellist commented that there is a market for sustainability but currently consumers just don’t know enough.
· Sharing best practices is a key element for change in the industry. Sharing knowledge is critical because the clothing industry is very complex and there is not just one answer. Only through collaboration at different stages of the supply chain we can find solutions.
· One of the problems is that many ethical fashion companies do not get the exposure of the big, non-ethical brands because they cannot afford PR representation which is the engine house of the fashion industry. This means while there may be editors and stylists who would like some of the ethical fashion being produced, they are not exposed to it in the same way they are to big labels.
· It is key for a brand to find an appropriate product and lexicon to communicate their approach to sustainability.
· It is important to establish longer-term relationships with suppliers. The fashion industry is notorious for chopping and changing its suppliers according to price, but in order to work with suppliers effectively, and to ensure green codes are effectively deployed in factories, longer-term relationships are needed.
· One of the major trends will be securing resources, raw materials, energy and water to run factories. Cotton prices have gone up over the last 12 months with factories in Bangladesh suffering four or five power cuts every day. With rising energy and water bills all over the world, even the big brands will struggle with these issues. Companies should see these challenges as an opportunity for more sustainable designs.