With nearly 8 out of 10 clothes we buy going to landfills, everyone knows that our future needs sustainable fashion.
But what is the future of the sustainable fashion industry and how will it get us from where we are today, to where we need to be?
We gaze into our crystal ball, today, and see if we can answer some of these questions for you and for the fashion industry at large.
The Key Drivers Of Sustainable Fashion In The Future
Sustainability Must Lead To Scale
One of the real problems for sustainable fashion is that many of the current efforts simply don’t scale well. A sustainable future can’t come from the kind of model that fast fashion brands employ but a sustainable fashion industry needs business models that scale.
Handcrafted mushroom leather shoes are fine for the discerning consumer with plenty of spare cash but for the average shoe buyer with a budget of $50? They’re way beyond their reach. Fashion brands can’t be sustainable brands if they only cate to the elites.
The good news is that there is financial incentive thanks to consumer sentiment for big fashion brands to look for the pathways to scale and deliver the benefits of sustainable fashion to the biggest possible audience.
The bad news is that we don’t know how challenging that will be or how long it will take.
We would expect to see big developments in recycled materials, however, that might lead to a fashion revolution in sustainable clothing quite quickly as it should lead to a more scalable business model.
Consumer Education Will Be Key
Nearly 80% of all clothing ends up in landfill and yet, many consumers remain blissfully unaware of the impact of their fashion decisions on the planet. Climate change is driven by human beings and sustainable practices are the only way to bring this to an end.
It’s going to be vital for environmentally focused organizations to go from explaining what is sustainable fashion or what is slow fashion and start communicating the individual benefits to consumers. Sustainable methods can be driven by consumer demand.
Show the consumer they can save money and still look great, they’ll be queueing down the street for sustainable fashion products but they’re less likely to be motivated by the idea of saving the planet, maybe, some day. Even if they say this matters to them.
One potential way of reducing the impact of the supply chain on the planet is to move manufacturing into everyone’s living room.
If we could 3D-print clothing from organic and eco-friendly raw materials and only when we needed that clothing, the knock-on benefits to the environment would be incredible.
Of course, while 3D-printing has come a long way in recent years, we’re not there or even close to it, yet.
However, this is one area we expect to see a ton of innovation in over the coming years.
Connecting Brand Loyalty And Sustainability
Fashion customers are fickle. Of course, they are. Fast fashion doesn’t encourage loyalty, it encourages us to go buy what we want and then dispose of it.
If we treat clothes like burgers from McD’s what hope is there for appreciable accrual of brand loyalty.
However, a slow fashion world where consumers make more careful long-lasting fashion choices? That’s a world with the potential for brands to truly connect with their customers and build profitable, loyal, lifetime relationships.
Circular Fashion Goes Mainstream?
We’ve talked about circular fashion here and yet, while the principle of cradle to grave clothing management is an excellent one, it hasn’t really developed fully, yet.
We’d like to see clothing brands reaching out to customers and saying, “Hey! You bought this last year, if you’re not wearing it anymore, why not sell it on XYZ thrift store? You can use this handy pre-written description and these awesome images to do so.”
This will also help with the previous point about loyalty, brands need to be more than just a shelf and start promoting environmentally healthy practices to their clients.
New Standards Of Wear And Tear?
A pair of jeans is not finished if you tear the knee or a pocket frays but all too often, that’s how we treat clothing, a minor imperfection leads to its disposal.
Yet, we’ve all been part of fashion movements that cherished battered and worn looking objects – it’s time for this to become a staple part of day-to-day fashions of all kinds.
Clothes should be discarded or recycled when they really can’t be used any more, not for minor material defects.
Final Thoughts On The Future Of Sustainable Fashion
Of course, we might be completely wrong, attempts to predict the future of sustainable fashion might be thwarted by events, as yet, unknown.
But we don’t think we’re too far off. All of these simple changes would help better connect consumers with sustainable fashion alternatives and bring big benefits both to the customer and to the planet.
What do you think?
8 Best Sustainable Fashion Apps