Issue No.17 — Fashion & Retail

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June 2023

Issue 17 examines the dynamics and ethics of the fashion industry

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INSIGHT

While sustainability is considered by over 90% of Gen Z and Millennials when making online purchases in 2023, the cost-of-living crisis has led many to prioritise affordability again.

In fact, nearly half (45%) of global consumers find it harder to act sustainably due to social or financial constraints, and the willingness to pay more for sustainable products has decreased from 57% to 41%.

Despite the sustainable sentiments of Gen Z, the popularity of ultra-fast fashion hauls contradicts their beliefs, with one in three Gen Zs admitting to feeling addicted to fast fashion.

Consequently, in support of slow fashion, European cities have signed the Slow Fashion Declaration, advocating for legislation to counter fast fashion conglomerates and promote slow fashion entrepreneurs and business models.

Organisations such Planet Tracker as are also urging industry leaders and governments to focus on supply chains and waste management strategies.

To address waste management costs, the OR Foundation's Stop Waste Colonialism campaign proposes a tax of at least $0.50 per new garment produced, specifically supporting the Global South.

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Stop Waste Colonialism – courtesy of The Or Foundation

STRATEGY

With 56% of fashion industry leaders expecting industry conditions to worsen in 2023, compared to just 9% in 2022, brands are proactively forming partnerships with competitors and other industries while offering solutions to tackle consumer concerns and meet sustainability goals.

Luxury fashion houses are engaging in strategic partnerships to secure stakes in knitwear manufacturers and textile suppliers. This approach ensures access to high-quality raw materials, enhances traceability and visibility across the supply chain, and preserves the esteemed craftsmanship of artisans.

Microfibre emissions, an area set for forthcoming regulations, are being addressed by both fashion and technology brands. Samsung partnered with Patagonia and non-profit Ocean Wise to develop the Less Microfiber washing machine filter to reduce plastic waste in our waterways.

Brands are also focusing on consumer friction points and expanding repair and mending services. This trend aligns with current cost-saving sentiments and economic climate, extending beyond premium and luxury brands. Nike's B.I.L.L. (Bot Initiative Longevity Lab) offers cleaning, repair, and customisation capabilities, while Apple's Self Service Repair program was introduced in Europe in late 2022.

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Patagonia x Samsung x Ocean Wise – courtesy of Samsung

DESIGN

Fashion brands are fine-tuning retail design by placing repair and recycling at the forefront such as Loewe's first store in Osaka which specialises in the maintenance and repair of LOEWE leather products.

In addition to embracing sustainable practices, brands are pioneering innovative materials and production processes in their new collections.

Filippa K has joined forces with manufacturers Lenzing and Riopele, along with forestry cooperative Södra, to develop a novel recycled material derived from textile waste and wood cellulose. As further proof of its commitment to sustainable practices, the brand enlisted artist Micael de Leeuw to design a series of tapestries using surplus yarns from past collections for the inauguration of its latest flagship store in Amsterdam.

In the UK, Vivobarefoot is developing VivoBiome, a scan-to-print circular footwear system. This ground-breaking technology enables the creation of made-to-order shoes based on precise foot scans, reducing waste. The shoes are produced locally, minimising shipping costs, and can be returned and recycled.

These design innovations exemplify the fashion industry's ongoing efforts to integrate sustainability, creativity, and conscious consumerism into the retail experience.

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LOEWE’s Re:Craft Store in Osaka – courtesy of Loewe