Many things need to occur for the fashion industry to be sustainable. While developing a circular economy is one thing that needs to happen, there are many other ways the fashion industry could change. During the Fashinnovation webinar on the 5th and the 8th of June, the panelists opened my eyes on what has to be done to make the fashion industry sustainable.
The first part is acknowledging the current climate of fashion and suitability. The fashion industry is an industry that produces a large amount of waste. To make one garment causes a tremendous amount of waste. This is partially due to the dyeing process of garments. The dyeing process uses a large amount of water, and this ends as waste of no longer usable water. The industry is also in a constant state of overproduction. There are hundreds of shows per fashion weeks. There are multiple kinds of fashion weeks including NYFW, Paris Fashion Week, regional, and city fashion weeks. The whole pace of the fashion industry is very fast, and it is known for that as an industry.
The second part is to see what the industry can change to improve the situation in terms of production. The first is to adopt a slow fashion because fast fashion is the enemy of sustainability. For the industry to become sustainable it must adopt the slow fashion as the norm. This means fewer shows, seasons, and overall, less production.
Overall, the future means less of these but maybe changes the dynamic of the fashion schedule. Many slow fashion companies produce based on their own schedule. Now that Gucci has gone seasonless, we will see what other Luxury houses follow.
The second action that companies must take is in sustainable textiles. Many synthetic fibers that are used to create clothes now are not recyclable and/or are made of materials that are not degradable. A large issue in the work is that plastic never breaks down and has impacted the environment in numerous ways. Our oceans and sea life have been almost filled by micro or small pieces of plastics.
The third factor is assigning value to waste. Many companies are turning other company’s waste into garments and products. This waste can be used in new ways and in fact the recycling of luxury brand waste has created a new section of the industry. By assigning value to waste of fashion companies it will reduce pollution and strengthen the industry.
The third part is what the industry can do after production. The first is to increase customer service and implement plans to decrease returns. This means producing garments that will last and are items that people really want. It is also about providing good customer service to aid customers in finding the right product.
The second is finding a way to make delivery green. This means delivering in ways that do not utilize transportation methods that are based on fossil fuels. This though does pose the issue that most international shipping is not green. This means that to be sustainable needs to move towards localization rather than globalization.
The last thing is the biggest issue which is the waste of packaging. Packaging accounts for more than 30% of waste. The layers of plastic and other elements of the packaging usually all end up in the garbage once you open a product. It is key to have packaging that people want to keep and use for later. The other option is to only use recyclable elements in packaging.
Overall, the industry needs to re-evaluate and reconstruct many elements in the supply chain of items. This is a conversation and movement driven by young people. It is us that will push for making a difference in the fashion industry. I applaud all that are part of this movement and that includes LIM and their moves to be more sustainable. Also, if you are interested in this topic, join the Sustainability club in the fall.