A new ‘eco-awakening’ is sweeping the world, as consumers engage in environmental awareness by considering where their purchases come from, how they are manufactured, and how they impact the environment.
According to BCG, consumers across all demographics are realizing that they have the purchasing power to make a real difference, with 95% believing that their personal actions can help to reduce unsustainable practices. Millennial and Gen Z shoppers are leading the way in this change due to their preference for sustainable brands. First Insight found that more than half of shoppers prefer to buy from sustainable brands.
The movement toward sustainability is already transforming fashion. Clothing brand Patagonia, for instance, has made sustainability a core part of its business operations, investing in eco-friendly initiatives and reusing materials to create supply chain sustainability and reduce its environmental impact over the years. The brand aims to become carbon neutral by 2025.
How to create a sustainable fashion business
Those considering how to make sustainable fashion must first grasp the concept of sustainability. While both are vital, sustainable and ethical fashions frequently merge, and while both are significant, they are also distinct. Sustainable fashion relates to the well-being of our planet and the impact of our industry on it, whereas ethical fashion refers to the well-being of people and animals involved in the development and production process.
Fashion brands can begin to focus on the sustainability issues they face and the steps they can take to address them, as well as discover how to promote sustainable fashion, by following the five stages outlined below.
Consider why sustainability is important
What is the significance of sustainability in the fashion industry? There are several reasons for this, including the fact that it is the right thing to do.
Focusing on how to make a business more sustainable can provide a financial boost by assisting in the detection and elimination of inefficiencies throughout the supply chain. According to McKinsey, implementing sustainability practices can raise operating profits by up to 60%.
Sustainability can also help to improve ties with today’s conscious consumers, with 66% willing to pay more for sustainably produced products, according to Neilsen.
Think about how you can increase sustainability
Businesses can start thinking about how to attain their sustainability goals once they’ve identified them. Consider the important areas where sustainability may be enhanced, from product development to sales, as well as the improvements that will have the most impact.
A contactless fit and sizing solution, for example, can increase the long-term sustainability of a variety of processes. Customer body data allows items to be designed around digital bodies based on actual customers during the design stage, avoiding the need for useless samples. Returns become less likely when clothing is tailored to fit accurately, reducing transportation and packaging waste and eliminating the possibility of good clothes ending up in landfills.
Forward-thinking fashion brands like 1822 Denim have already slashed returns by more than 30% using 3DLOOK’s YourFit, which collects clients’ body data using just two smartphone photos to assess optimal size and give anonymized data to utilize during manufacturing.
Think about the entire business, in addition to clothes
Businesses must focus on developing sustainable supply chains that minimize inefficiencies and rely on environmentally friendly materials and processes rather than developing sustainable products. No matter how sustainably made a product is, wasteful supply chains will turn clients off — according to BCG, 60 % of consumers are hesitant to buy a product in harmful packaging.
Businesses can improve their supply chains by using emerging fashion technologies to reduce waste during the design, manufacturing, and inventory planning stages. Body Shape Analytics from 3DLOOK, which gives apparel companies insight into the shapes and sizes of their customers, provides segmented data that brands can use to improve inventory planning and distribution and avoid over-producing and over-stocking items that are unlikely to sell.
Consider customers’ concerns and handle them
In some fashion markets, up to 50% of all purchases are returned, with poor fit and style being the cause 70% of the time. However, as consumer values evolve, they will become less fond of these lax return policies, which contribute to fashion’s growing waste problem.
According to McKinsey, with more than half of consumers have already made major lifestyle steps to minimize their environmental impact, failure to align with their values may force them to shop elsewhere.
The biggest sustainability concern for fashion consumers is durability, emphasizing their desire to move away from wasteful fast fashion practices, as reported by GWI. Similarly, 44% of feel brands believe that harmful chemicals should be avoided during manufacturing and that natural materials should be used instead. Some 40% prefer products made from recycled materials, while 35% believe the environmental impact of shipping is also important.
Collaborate to build a sustainable industry
Given that fashion accounts for 10% of all global emissions, the sector must work together to identify solutions that will help to mitigate its impact. Brands should not only collaborate with like-minded companies and partners to achieve common goals, but they should also consider how other industries, such as technology, might benefit. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, according to the United Nations, have “immense potential” to promote both commercial growth and sustainable development.
3DLOOK previously worked with Una Terra, a sustainable clothing brand that makes clothing for people and their pets out of recycled fabrics. The company provided its AI-first 3D body scanning solution to help reduce textile waste and unsold stock, supporting the fight against unsustainable fashion.
What is the significance of sustainability in the fashion industry?
Learning how to establish a sustainable fashion business is a difficult process, and applying that knowledge requires significant changes. Making the adjustment, on the other hand, is well worth the effort in order to build a better future for all market participants.
Along with being the right thing for brands to do, sustainability also makes perfect business sense. Not only are 31% of Gen Z shoppers – who will account for 40% of all consumers by 2026 – willing to pay a premium for environmentally friendly products, but more than half have decided against making a purchase because of a brand’s values. As consumers begin to vote with their wallets, companies that prioritize sustainability in their branding are more likely to thrive.