According to the United Nations, the fashion industry is responsible for an estimated 2-8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and is an economy key player contributing $2.4 trillion to global manufacturing and employing 300 million people worldwide. Responsive to this effect on the environment and society, the fashion industry is reshaping its business model to become more efficient and sustainable.
Founded in Barcelona in 1984 and currently present in over 115 markets, Mango, one of Europe’s leading fashion groups, sees sustainability as a journey the fashion industry has to make to achieve a more just society and to reduce its environmental and social impact. With design, creativity and technology at the centre of its business model, the company bases its strategy on constant innovation, the search for sustainability and a complete ecosystem of channels and partners.
Mango was pioneer establishing its sustainability department to commit to responsible production in 2002. Now, the company has launched Sustainable Vision 2030 as a cross-departmental core value of the company strategy and business model that influences decision making and the promotion of actions with the lowest environmental and social impact possible.
The roadmap is based on three key pillars. Firstly, the product and its design. By 2025, Mango aims that all cotton used will be more sustainable, that all polyester will be recycled and that 100% of cellulose fibers will be of controlled origin and traceable. From a design point of view, in the next few years Mango will increase designs that are easier to recycle, bearing in mind their composition and construction, as well as committing to durability or the efficient use of materials to avoid waste.
The second pillar of Mango’s new sustainability strategy focuses on implementing measures to reduce the company’s impact on the planet through four policies: climate change, water consumption, packaging and the strategy to protect biodiversity. Mango aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and reduce its total water impact by 25% by 2030.
Finally, the company’s commitment to people. Mango will focus its efforts in the coming years on continuing with its process of supplier auditing, traceability and transparency, in order to ensure that appropriate working conditions are fulfilled for workers in the factories the company works with throughout the world. By the end of 2022, Mango became the first Spanish major fashion company to publish a list of its tier 3 factories, related to suppliers of fabrics and trimmings, after being the first to publish the tier 1 and 2 list. In addition, the company will continue to implement numerous training projects principally focused on providing children and women access to education in countries such as Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, so that these become a lever of change for societies.
Mango is Associate Sponsor of Global Fashion Summit: Copenhagen Edition 2023.
Over the last few years, we have seen sustainable practices gradually infiltrate mainstream fashion events. Following the annual Met Gala on Monday, we were left contemplating whether a night so unapologetically centred around extravagance could in fact be carried out more sustainably.
Below we explore some of the guests who championed sustainable fashion at this year’s Met Gala and consider what this says about the trajectory of the red carpet more broadly.
Outfit Repeating & Archival Looks
Due to the very nature of the theme of the 2023 Met Gala – a veneration of the late Karl Lagerfeld, whose career spanned 65 years – vintage and archival outfits were not in short supply. Among some of the most admired outfits of the evening there was a distinct lack of newness, and this is worth celebrating.
Some of the events standout moments included Nicole Kidman’s outfit-repeat of the iconic feathered gown she wore in the 2004 Baz Luhrmann-directed Chanel No 5 advert. Gisele Bündchen’s rewear of a Chanel Couture sequin ensemble, which she previously wore in a Vogue Korea editorial in 2007, was another notable fashion statement. Furthermore, Met Gala Co-Chair, Dua Lipa, turned to Lagerfeld’s archives and wore an A/W 1992 Chanel bridal look for her arrival, originally modelled by Claudia Schiffer on the runway. Later in the evening, she changed into another archival 1995 Chanel Couture dress.
Guests such as Margaret Qualley, Naomi Campbell, Kristen Stewart, Penélope Cruz, Sofia Coppola, Lila Moss, Christine Chiu, Suki Waterhouse, Yara Shahidi and Huma Abedin were among others who also wore archival outfits – spanning from decades old to only a few years old.
Sustainability trailblazer, Gabriela Hearst, is the Creative Director and Designer at Chloé – a position previously held by Lagerfeld on-and-off between 1963 to 1997. As such, Hearst cited the archival work of Lagerfeld at Chloé in looks for herself, Vanessa Kirby, Maude Apatow and Olivia Wilde.
During this year’s Met Gala livestream breaks, a new collaboration was announced between eBay and Vogue, fronted by Ice Spice who has curated a vintage selection for eBay. It is encouraging to see influential artists such as Ice Spice promoting pre-loved fashion.
In many ways, the Met Gala serves as a bellwether for the broader industry, signalling that vintage and pre-loved goods are only going to increase in popularity. This is echoed in the latest ThredUp resale report which predicts that the global secondhand market is expected to nearly double by 2027, reaching $350 Billion. Secondhand goods are not only to be celebrated because they present an opportunity to wear something entirely unique, but the same report suggests that buying and wearing secondhand clothing instead of new reduces carbon emissions by an average of 25%.
Indeed, vintage fashion is already being spotlighted on 2023 red carpets. For example, Timothée Chalamet wore a vintage leather look from Helmut Lang’ S/S 1998 collection at the recent CinemaCon event. Similarly, Kendall Jenner sported a vintage Jean Paul Gaultier dress, from the brand’s S/S 2008 Haute Couture collection at the Vanity Fair Oscars Party 2023.
There’s also a marked increase in people outfit repeating on the red carpet, with Cate Blanchett proudly leading this effort. The Princess of Wales and Kate Winslet have also done so this year. Thanks to the wonderful efforts from the likes of RCGD Global, we can only expect to see more of this in the coming years.
Championing Sustainable Design
According to The GFA Monitor 2022, the environmental impact of a garment is largely determined in its design phase. As such, it was promising to see some guests champion more sustainable design at this year’s Met Gala.
Gabriella Karefa-Johnson and Environmental Activist, Maya Penn, are the first people to wear custom looks from the new circular sub-brand from Coach, Coachtopia, which reuses materials that would otherwise go to waste. Outfit embellishments were made from the likes of discarded cans, bottles, ticket stubs and maps salvaged from bins around the Met Museum.
Alexa Chung wore a Róisín Pierce dress, a designer who focuses on thoughtful ways of cultivating new surface textures through deadstock, material recycling and zero waste cutting. Pierce was one of eight finalists of last year’s prestigious LVMH Prize – revered for her alignment of luxury with core sustainability principles.
Aubrey Plaza and Madelyn Cline attended the Met Gala alongside designer, Stella McCartney, who is heralded for her commitment to sustainable practices. During an interview on the official event livestream, Plaza amplified McCartney’s message and gave a shoutout to the fact that her dress was sustainable. This comes after Cara Delevingne recently modelled the first-ever garment made from plastic-free, plant-based sequins by Stella McCartney for her Vogue cover shoot in April.
Innovation in the fashion scene paves the way for a future where style and sustainability can coexist harmoniously.
Beyond The Outfits
Beyond the clothing, this year’s centrepiece installation within the Museum was crafted from thousands of recycled water bottles. Event Planner, Raul Àvila, said: “Given today’s climate, we wanted to highlight the importance of giving our everyday items more than one life cycle,”
However, given the opulence of the Met Gala, climate activists staged a protest. Moreover, on the basis of some of Karl Lagerfeld’s controversial remarks, this year’s theme attracted much criticism. The Model Alliance held protests the day before the event and pushed for the Fashion Workers Act in New York to be passed, a bill proposing basic protections for models. This aspect of Lagerfeld’s legacy cannot be overlooked.
The message was clear: Timeless design that can endure the ever-elusive trend cycles is worth celebrating. Fashion is a crucial medium for creative expression and should indeed be celebrated, but as we look to the future, we hope the Met Gala will amplify the voices advocating for positive change and further champion the cause of sustainability.
We cannot continue with a business-as-usual approach and the Met Gala offers another platform for engaging people in conversations about the necessary direction for the industry, as it draws a vast global audience.
Global Fashion Agenda’s upcoming Global Fashion Summit is the leading forum for sustainability in fashion. This June, the Summit will gather the industry’s foremost leaders, visionaries, researchers, politicians, environmentalists, global opinion makers, journalists and more to explore a range of interconnected topics, all under the Summit’s theme of ‘Ambition to Action’.
The sourcing and production of fibres and materials used by the fashion industry comes with many repercussions. As such, adhering to thorough production standards and practices is a key component to mitigating some of the far-ranging implications of the textiles sector.
Erdos Eco Ranch
ERDOS Group has always acknowledged the responsibilities that come with being one of the world’s largest producers of cashmere. The Group is dedicated to ensuring sustainability across every aspect of the supply chain, from goat rearing, green production and designing to cashmere apparel manufacturing and retailing. On 29 September 2022, Erdos Eco Ranch was unveiled, which demonstrates the Group’s determination to protect and develop high-quality cashmere resources while preserving grasslands and enhancing ecosystems.
The organisation understands that the sustainable development of the cashmere industry relies on thriving grasslands and ecosystems, which in turn yield high quality cashmere. Thus, the Group prioritises sustainability across these areas. Construction of the Erdos Eco Ranch began in 2021, serving as a standardised demonstration ranch that integrates scientific research and rearing, training and promotion of these methods, and cashmere collection and storage.
With the aim to develop high-quality cashmere and establish an eco-friendly approach to rearing goats, the Group set up four labs on the Ranch which encompass everything from resource conservation and environmental protection to cashmere quality and animal nutrition and health. Furthermore, the Group is collaborating with China Agricultural University, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, and Inner Mongolia University to research improvements in cashmere goat breeding and the enhancement of cashmere quality.
The Importance of Collaboration
ERDOS Group also recognises that safeguarding grasslands and goats cannot be accomplished when acting alone – collaboration between herders and the industry is essential. Therefore, the Ranch also serves as a platform to support and partner with local communities to promote credible goat breeding and raising methods. The Group runs training programmes to help herdsmen to implement these methods. Erdos Group also leverages the Ranch to discuss the practical implementation of joint investment and development, with the ambition to help local communities prosper alongside the industry.
Crucially, Erdos Group is actively working on furthering and promoting animal welfare. The Group was the first enterprise in China to obtain The Good Cashmere Standard ® (GCS ®) Certification and operates under the SFA x ICCAW Cashmere Goat Welfare Code of Practice. Now, Erdos Eco Ranch is working to help herders adapt to the requirements of these certifications. Furthermore, the Group set up breeding and ranch management standards with Inner Mongolia University and promote these standards within local communities. The standards clarify the basic principles of animal welfare, introduce sustainable breeding and ranch operating protocols and mandate the tracing and recording of information on goat breeding and cashmere production at each stage.
Erdos Group is also working to establish the Ranch as a landmark, to promote sustainability and grassland culture to a wider public. On 22 April 2023, World Earth Day, the Ranch’s Mini programme was launched, allowing people to view the beautiful scenery around the Ranch and observe the high standards to which the goats are being raised and taken care of. In the future, the Group plans to introduce on-site artists and a grassland culture programme.
Erdos Group is one of Global Fashion Agenda’s Associate Partners. Find out more about our partners here.
At least two thirds of a brand’s environmental footprint can be attributed to its choice of raw materials, as reported in the GFA Monitor 2022. Hence, choosing and using the right fibres and materials, as well as production practices, is key to limiting the far-ranging implications for the biosphere.
For the fashion industry to meet the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, CO2 emitted during textile fibre and material production must be reduced by at least 45 per cent by 2030, compared to a 2019 baseline. Across material types, the fashion industry will have to invest in the development of new innovative materials, business models, and systems necessary to meet the reduction goal.
Featured in our Innovation Forum, the following companies are promoting smart material choices and paving the way for industry-wide transformation by introducing innovative materials to disrupt the current trajectory and reduce the footprint of garment & footwear production.
- Arch and Hook is helping retail and fashion brands around the word reach their sustainability goals by designing and producing sustainable clothing hangers, furniture and fixtures. Their own material, BLUEWAVE® is created from 100% recycled post-consumer and post-industrial waste that has been gathered from riversides and coastlines in Southeast Asia. Instead of allowing this waste to end up polluting our oceans, Arch & Hook sees it as a chance to protect them as well as reduce the production of fossil-fuel based virgin plastic. From sportswear, department stores, high-end fashion and the hospitality industry, to name a few, Arch & Hook has supported hundreds of companies around the globe to advance their sustainability targets.
- Balena is a material science company that develops compostable and biodegradable thermoplastic material. The company’s mission is to create a circular model for consumer products by addressing one of the fashion industry’s biggest challenges: the products’ end-of-life. Balena’s first material, BioCir™, is a fully compostable and biodegradable thermoplastic that enables the production of flexible and elastomeric products that can be responsibly disposed of through BioCycling (biological recycling). Through its innovative solution, Balena is making significant contributions towards sustainability and reducing environmental pollution in the fashion industry.
- Birla Cellulose, part of Aditya Birla Group, is a leading producer of sustainable man-made cellulosic fibre (MMCF) with 12 global pulp and fibre facilities that employ closed-loop systems and ecologically friendly technologies. Its sustainable products such as Livaeco, Liva Reviva, Birla Excel (lyocell) are designed with sustainable credentials that are ideal for fashion and lifestyle applications, while being completely biodegradable. MMCF are produced from natural and renewable wood sourced from sustainably managed and certified sources. Birla Cellulose works with industry partners and organizations to implement best practices in their operations and across their value chain, with an emphasis on sustainability, innovation, and collaboration.
- Bolt Threads is a sustainable materials company that is on a mission to create and scale better materials by developing sustainable solutions for the apparel and beauty industries, drawing inspiration from nature. Their flagship product, Mylo, is a leather replacement created from mycelium that provides all the benefits of real leather without the environmental disadvantages of raising livestock. Bolt Threads partners with top brands, including Adidas and Stella McCartney, to develop high-performance, eco-friendly products that set a new standard for sustainability in fashion, putting us on a path towards a more sustainable future.
- Desserto’s mission is to be a leader in innovation by providing high-quality materials created with environmentally friendly alternatives, with a vision of inclusivity and sustainability for all. Their highly sustainable and partially biodegradable plant-based material, Desserto®, is derived from cactus and works as an alternative to leather. Through their value chain, the company has established a holistic sustainable approach to meet with the industry’s most stringent environmental, social, and ethical criteria.
- Eastman Naia is a cellulosic fibre brand with a mission to make sustainable textiles universally accessible. Their versatile Naia™ fibres solution combines technology, sustainability, and creativity to provide unlimited possibilities for sustainable style. Naia™ Renew cellulosic fibre is a fully traceable, bio-based fibre that incorporates 60% sustainably sourced wood pulp and 40% recycled waste material diverted from landfills to make new fibres without compromising softness or quality. With high standards for safety, social responsibility, and the environment, Naia™ fibres prioritise sustainable resources and a low environmental impact, enabling designers to express their vision for sustainable fashion.
- HeiQ is focused on improving the lives of billions of people worldwide by adding hygiene, comfort, protection, and sustainability to everyday products. Their HeiQ AeoniQ™ fibre results from a proprietary manufacturing process that creates a climate-positive, biodegradable, and endlessly recyclable cellulosic filament yarn that can replace polyester and nylon, helping to reduce carbon emissions and environmental pollution caused by textiles. This makes the innovative material the world’s first climate-positive continuous cellulose filament yarn.
- InResST is a low-carbon company focused on the feasibility research, development, production, and promotion of discarded fishing nets used in the textile industry. InResST recycled nylon staple fibre products are derived from recycled marine discarded fishing nets and mechanical recycling through low carbon factories. InResST’s mission is to reduce carbon emissions and protect marine ecosystems and biodiversity by partnering with environmentally conscious brands, manufacturers, and global non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to reduce plastic pollution.
- Myco Works developed Fine Mycelium™, a patented technology that engineers mycelium – the root structure of mushrooms – to grow natural materials with the qualities and hand-feel of premium animal leather but with lower environmental impact. Fine Mycelium™ materials’ durability, customizability, and aesthetic features unlock new design possibilities while its tray-based, tunable process relieves existing supply chain constraints. In addition, the company partnered with Hermès to develop Sylvania, a new biomaterial hybrid of nature and biotechnology.
Sustainability in the fashion industry is not just a passing trend, but a top priority for both brands and their customers. While many brands are already seeking to reduce their environmental impact by addressing their sourcing and production methods, an increased focus on logistics is integral for the industry to reach its sustainability goals.
From innovations in eco-fuel to visibility for reduced textile waste, learn the five key ways that logistics can enable the decarbonisation of the fashion industry here.
Maersk is Principal Sponsor of Global Fashion Summit: Copenhagen Edition 2023. Find out more here.
The collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh that housed five garment factories was a tragic incident for the fashion industry and will always signify a poignant moment of awakening and solidarity. Ten years later, there has been much progress in establishing secure working conditions however, there remains much to be done in order to suitably safeguard workers around the world.
On 23 April 2013, large structural cracks were discovered in the Rana Plaza building. While the shops and bank on the lower floors were closed and evacuated, warnings to avoid using the building were ignored by the garment factory owners on the upper floors.
Ten years ago today, on 24 April 2013, thousands of garment workers were ordered to return to work at their garment factories located in the cracked Rana Plaza building. That day the building came crashing down, killing around 1,138 people and leaving over 2,500 injured.
The tragic event at Rana Plaza shed light on the serious impacts of the fashion industry, particularly when current purchasing practices of brands and buyers are built on short lead times and the need for low cost to compete for end users’ demand for affordable clothing, leaving suppliers in a race to the bottom.
The disaster also laid bare the distinct absence of transparency in global supply chains which has damaging consequences for garment workers. Transparent disclosure on labour and human rights is an essential foundation to achieving systemic change in the industry enabling better identification of risks and abuses in the fashion value chain.
What has changed
Since the tragedy, the urgency to enact change for garment workers is more widely comprehended with a number of projects and initiatives seeking to address the systemic issues that led to the disaster. For many, the event marked the first time they questioned just how their clothes are made.
So, one decade later, what has tangibly changed?
After the tragic collapse in April, The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety were established to promote workplace safety through independent safety inspections, training programs, and complaints mechanisms for workers. The Accord marked the first time in the fashion industry that there was a legally binding agreement on factory safety between global brands and retailers and trade unions that represent garment workers.
Since its introduction, the Bangladesh Accord has created significant change in factory working conditions in the Bangladesh garment industry. According to Joris Oldenziel, Executive Director of the International Accord Foundation, within two months of the Accord’s launch in 2013, 200 companies signed the Accord and as a result over 40,000 initial and follow-up inspections took place at over 2,000 factories. In turn, 93% of the identified 150,000 safety hazards were remediated. Oldenziel said: “It’s fair to say that the 2 million workers in these factories are now significantly safer than they were in 2013.”
In 2021, an updated International Accord on Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry was established by unions and brands. This Safety Accord continues the life-saving work improving factories in Bangladesh and works towards expansion to other countries. In 2023, the Accord will expand to Pakistan and establish a new workplace safety programme.
Following Rana Plaza, the foundations were laid for advocacy groups such as Fashion Revolution. First published on the anniversary of Rana Plaza’s collapse in 2016, The Fashion Transparency Index has served as an annual benchmark of the information major fashion brands disclose. Increased transparency enables workers’ rights advocates to identify, report and redress suspected abuses. The Index has pushed companies to provide more information to the public and created a degree of accountability within the industry.
What needs to change
Rana Plaza should have signified a watershed moment for non-negotiable change but despite the importance of respectful and secure work environments and potential business benefits, human rights abuses still exist throughout the fashion value chain.
We know that worker safety needs to be extensive and all-encompassing, yet many workers are still exposed to dangerous working conditions, poor occupational safety, insufficient health standards, and long working hours. Full labour safety for the workers and their families is still far from a reality. Furthermore, whilst the minimum wage in Bangladesh has doubled, this is still only half of what the unions had suggested and far from a living wage.
The latest Fashion Transparency Index showed the progress on transparency in the global fashion industry is still too slow among 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers. Most major brands and retailers (96%) do not publish the number of workers in their supply chain paid a living wage. Only 13% of brands disclose how many of their supplier facilities have trade unions.
To address these issues, there is a need for continued investment in factory safety improvements, better enforcement of labour laws, and greater transparency and accountability in supply chains to ensure that workers are treated fairly and with dignity.
Most crucially, we cannot expect to remedy this situation without listening to the voices of the communities on the frontline. Real progress demands an examination of the structural and systemic nature of exploitation in the fashion industry. It requires us to listen to the workers.
At Global Fashion Summit: Copenhagen Edition 2022, Sourcing and Labour editor at Sourcing Journal, Jasmin Malik Chua, reiterated during a panel discussion: “It’s important to not take a really Western-centric approach and a Paternalistic approach, and actually speak to the workers, because they know what’s really best for them.”
This sentiment was echoed at Global Fashion Summit: Singapore Edition 2022 by Nazma Akter, Founder & Executive Director, Awaj Foundation, who said: “We want decent jobs, fair wages, fair prices and we want profit. The power should be equally distributed between suppliers, brands and workers.”
Tools to guide change
The GFA Monitor is intended as a resource to guide fashion leaders on the pathway towards a net positive fashion industry by 2050. The report presents guidance according to five sustainability priorities. One of these core priorities is ‘Respectful & Secure Work Environments’. Find out how brands can make bold commitments and take decisive action on this urgent priority in the full report.
Global Fashion Agenda proactively advocates for policy changes and supportive measures that reinforce sustainability targets and prompt policymakers to take informed action to foster necessary change. The GFA Monitor report is built on five sustainability priorities and outlines the opportunities and actions required for fashion brands and retailers to shift to a net positive fashion industry by 2050. As outlined in the report, greater transparency and traceability for the promotion of smart material choices is a core policy priority.
The sourcing and production of fibres and materials used by the fashion industry puts substantial pressure on natural resources and comes with implications for water, energy, and land use, as well as emissions and waste. To align textile fibre and material production with the 1.5-degree pathway and goals pertaining to soil health, biodiversity, and water conservation, players across the value cycle – from growers and suppliers to fashion brands and retailers – should jointly pursue a holistic approach to the industry’s use of materials.
- As such, the European Commission is looking into mechanisms to integrate them in the design of clothing under the Regulation on Ecodesign for Sustainable Products proposed on 30 March 2022. Following its adoption by the European Parliament and the Council, the regulation could, for instance, introduce a Digital Product Passport for textiles based on mandatory information requirements. As highlighted in the Policy Hub’s position paper on Digital Product Passport, digital product passports will be important in contributing to the digitisation of product information. GFA -in the framework of the Policy Hub- is engaging with the European Parliament and the Council who are currently negotiating the final text. We envision the Regulation to become applicable as of 2026. The horizontal framework provided by the regulation will be complemented by product specific requirements that will also cover textiles.
Aware of the importance of consumer-friendly and consistent information, the European Commission has also issued:
- a proposal for a Directive on Empowering Consumers for the Green Transition (March 2022). If adopted, the new EU rules will ensure that consumers are provided with information at the point of sale about a commercial guarantee of durability and information relevant to repair.
- a proposal for a Directive on Substantiating Green Claims (March 2023) which sets minimum requirements on the substantiation and communication of voluntary environmental claims and environmental labelling in business to-consumer commercial practices.
The promotion of innovative materials is also included as part of the EU Textiles Strategy which further outlines that Member States also play a key role in providing support to research, innovation and investments in this regard.
Lastly, at COP26, Textile Exchange and over 50 industry signatories led a “call to governments” to request for trade policy to incentivise the use of environmentally preferred materials in the apparel industry. The request calls for preferential tariffs on materials like organic cotton and recycled fibres. Work has been ongoing to determine the most effective policy strategy and partnerships in this area.
Global Fashion Agenda is one of the five members of the Steering Committee of the Policy Hub – Circularity for Apparel and Footwear. Our position papers and related advocacy actions can be found at www.policyhub.org
The latest trend sweeping social media seems to be the very antithesis of trends – deinfluencing. The hashtag has amassed some 270 million views on TikTok in the last few weeks alone. Today, we explore both the nuance and potential impact of this movement on fashion if it were to take hold long-term.
What is deinfluencing?
A concept that reportedly originated in the beauty community, deinfluencing flips the script on influencer norms by encouraging followers not to buy certain products. Amidst a constant deluge of recommendations users are in a continuous state of ‘ambient shopping’, so at its core, this is a welcome deviation.
There has long been concern that influencer recommendations are disingenuous on the basis that most influencers financially benefit from recommending products. Therefore, initially, deinfluencing was intended as a tactic to gain trust and help followers avoid scams and overhyped products, though it’s now being touted as the antidote to a whole plethora of problems.
Namely, drawing citizens awareness to consumption rates could encourage people to think critically about purchases. In 2020 it was said that almost half (44%) of Gen Z has made a purchase decision based on a recommendation from a social influencer. This has likely only increased. When a concept such as deinfluencing hijacks the mainstream narrative, this could have profound impact.
The shortfalls of deinfluencing
For some, this trend quickly went awry and transformed into an opportunity to recommend alternative suggestions or ‘dupes’ in lieu of the forsaken products – curtailing any promise of sustainability. For fundamental change, deinfluencing needs to centre around buying less not simply buying alternatives.
The influence of deinfluencing
As paradoxical as it sounds, deinfluencing has the potential for great influence. If this phenomenon withstands the ever-elusive social media trend cycle and truly transforms approaches to consumption, it could have a ripple effect industry wide.
- Waste colonialism and overconsumption
The new #StopWasteColonialism campaign from The Or Foundation defines waste colonialism as ‘…the domination of land for the use of disposal, also referred to as a “sink” and this is quite visible in the context of Accra’s Kantamanto Market, the largest secondhand market in the world.’
It is a devastating consequence of the fashion industry and the direct result of the propensity of higher-income nations to overproduce and overconsume – both pervasive problems that are now culturally entrenched in structure of many societies.
Anything that can stifle these currently unabating rates of consumption and production could have real impact on clothing waste if it maintains momentum. Shifts towards more sustainable business models are no coincidence, but rather happen as a response to an ever-increasing demand for better practice from customers.
Though core solutions lie within comprehensive policy measures and brands carrying out business more responsibly, if citizens continue to pursue endless consumption at such rapid rates, brands benefitting from this system will be less motivated to radically reinvent businesses.
Whilst this may be an idealistic attitude towards a singular social media trend, deinfluencing could certainly spark conversations and movements that begin derail this bigger structure of overconsumption.
- New models
If the industry is set to grapple with a new wave of influencers that are more authentic than ever with their recommendations, brands can no longer rely on financial incentive for promotion and products will have to live up to any hype. This could have significant impact on overall sales – data shows that 71% of US consumers want to back brands they deem to be authentic and the deinfluencing trend puts millions of products at risk of being portrayed as inauthentic. Insider Intelligence initially forecast that TikTok will account for most of the 5 million new US social buyers in 2023, but with deinfluencing taking hold, the research company stated that this is an apt time for marketers to re-evaluate their influencer marketing strategies.
This may encourage more meaningful collaborations, better quality products that are more durable but also could bring about entirely new business models. For example, with this uncertainty we could see brands moving towards more made-to-order approaches – a key manufacturing tool that could help to keep in line with demand and reduce fashion waste. This considered approach can also cultivate more exclusivity and desire around thoughtfully crafted products.
- Supercharged Storytelling
The fundamental learning from this trend is the power of authenticity in communication. At Global Fashion Summit: Copenhagen Edition 2022, Willow Defebaugh, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Atmos, spoke to the topic of meaningful storytelling and shared: “Authenticity is always what’s going to reach people, and that comes from understanding how your personal story can help shape your unique perspective that you bring to the storytelling.”
In the same conversation, sustainable fashion blogger, photojournalist and labour rights activist, Aditi Mayer, provided insight into reframing of the term consumer: “We need to expand from framing civil society as purely consumers but citizens, how can you engage with one another in the community, focusing on organising.” Reducing people to their consumption habits not only places the onus on the accumulation of more, but also limits us to thinking in extractive ways.
Watch this conversation amongst an array of others in the Global Fashion Summit on-demand library here.
Global Fashion Agenda participated in and closely contributed to the 2023 OECD Forum on Due Diligence in the Garment and Footwear Sector.
During a side session that took place online on 14 February entitled ‘The interplay of Due Diligence and Upstream Circular Fashion Systems’ Global Fashion Agenda presented an interactive dialog with public and private sector actors on the connection between establishing circular fashion systems in manufacturing countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia and Viet Nam, and mandatory Human Rights & Environmental Due Diligence. Alongside our Director of Impact & Sustainability, Holly Syrett, participants included representatives from the Policy Hub-Circularity for Apparel and Footwear, H&M Group, GIZ FABRIC and BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association).
The conversation shed light into the current barriers to collectively establish circular systems that benefit all stakeholders and utilise post-industrial waste opportunity. These include the lack of knowledge and knowledge sharing amongst the different stakeholders; the need for robust data; the fragmentation of the value chain; tax implications and the lack of incentives to bring in recyclers/technologies from EU/US to Asia. Amongst the policy recommendations were the importance of strengthening the risk phased approach in the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive currently under discussion at EU level and the need for harmonisation amongst all the pieces of legislation when it comes to reporting and information sharing requirements to make sure manufacturers are not overburdened.
Our Public Affairs Director, María Luisa Martínez Díez was amongst the speakers of the in person session, ‘Due Diligence of circular value chains: Addressing the risks associated with circular processes’ that took place on 16 February. Together with Zubeida Zwavel (Executive Director of the Centre for African Resource Efficiency and Sustainability (CARES) South Africa), Mauro Scalia (Director of Sustainable Businesses at Euratex) and Tobias Fischer (Development Sustainability Manager at H&M Group) she discussed what new business relationships, for instance, with recyclers, sorters, collectors, or new materials producers and processors imply for Responsible Business Conducts on due diligence, and what considerations are important when exercising due diligence on circular value chains.
María Luisa highlighted the drivers of circularity such as the adoption of circular design principles, bringing new business models to scale and more investment into textile-to-textile recycling technologies as well as activities GFA is conducting to accelerate circular practices. These include The Global Circular Fashion Forum (GCFF), a new global initiative established by GFA and funded by GIZ. The GCFF will spur local action in textile manufacturing countries to accelerate and scale recycling of post-industrial textile waste in an effort to achieve a long-term, scalable, and just transition to a circular fashion industry. The GCFF builds on GFA’s experiences with the Circular Fashion Partnership (CFP) in Bangladesh that demonstrated the potential for domestically accelerating and scaling the recycling of post-industrial textile waste to create new textiles.
The results of the conversations will contribute to ongoing research led by the OECD on the structure of circular value chains in the garment and footwear sector.
The GFA Monitor report is built on five sustainability priorities and outlines the opportunities and actions required for fashion brands and retailers to shift to a net positive fashion industry by 2050. As outlined in the report, a net-positive fashion industry requires a holistic resource stewardship approach.
Aligning the use of resources by the fashion industry with the 1.5-degree pathway requires bold commitments and bold actions to drive decarbonisation, move away from extractive practices, and contribute to the socioeconomic development in operating regions. Policy can play a huge role in ensuring a unified approach to this. Global Fashion Agenda proactively advocates for policy changes and supportive measures that reinforce resource stewardship targets and prompts policymakers to take informed action to foster necessary change.
The goal to become climate neutral by 2050 is at the heart of the European Green Deal. In order to tackle the fashion industry’s share of responsibility, the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action’s renewed commitments that were announced at COP26 in 2021 presented a decarbonisation plan for the industry. Commitments include sourcing 100% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030, sourcing of environmentally friendly raw materials, and phasing out coal from the supply chain by 2030.
The protection of resources at EU level is further tackled by other key policy initiatives including:
- The Annex to the proposal for a Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence which includes a reference to the prohibition of causing any measurable environmental degradation, such as harmful soil change, water or air pollution, harmful emissions or excessive water consumption or other impacts on natural resources
- The EU’s biodiversity strategy for 2030 establishing a long-term plan to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems
- The Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability through which the Commission supports the industry to substitute as much as possible and otherwise minimise the substances of concern in textile products placed on the EU market
- A forthcoming Commission initiative to address the unintentional release of microplastics in the environment announced under the EU Textiles Strategy.
- The recently released PFAS restriction proposal from 7 February 2023.
Global Fashion Agenda is one of the five members of the Steering Committee of the Policy Hub – Circularity for Apparel and Footwear. Our position papers and related advocacy actions can be found at www.policyhub.org