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June 2023

Fashion & Retail

The Or Foundation’s mission is to Stop Waste Colonialism – courtesy of The Or Foundation


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 prioritize 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, organizations are urging industry leaders and governments to focus on supply chains and waste management strategies. Planet Tracker emphasizes the need for brands to reduce negative impacts of outsourced manufacturing and supply chains to validate their 'green' claims, primarily based on retail improvements.


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. The British Fashion Council is investigating the environmental consequences of returns, suggesting that paid-for returns will become the industry norm, as 23 million garments were discarded in UK landfills or incinerated.


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.

Patagonia x Samsung’s & Ocean Wise ‘Less Microfiber Filter’ partnership – courtesy of Samsung


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 Italian artisans.


The Woolmark Company, a non-profit organization, has collaborated with Italian mill Vatale Barberis and traceability company Healixa to implement a DNA tracing solution, enabling the tracking of Australian wool from sheep to fabric.


Microfiber emissions, an area set for forthcoming regulations, are being addressed by fashion and technology brands. Samsung Electronics partnered with Patagonia and non-profit Ocean Wise to develop the Less Microfiber washing machine filter. Similarly, Inditex is working with Jeanologia to extract microfibers during the manufacturing stage.


Brands are also focusing on consumer friction points and expanding repair and mending services. This trend aligns with cost-saving sentiments amid the current economic climate, extending beyond premium and luxury brands.


Nike's B.I.L.L. (Bot Initiative Longevity Lab) offers cleaning, repair, and customization capabilities, while Apple's Self Service Repair program was introduced in Europe in late 2022.

LOEWE’s new Re:Craft Store in Osaka promotes ’joy beyond the new’ – courtesy of Loewe


Fashion brands are revolutionising retail design by placing repair, recycling, and reimagination at the forefront. Noteworthy examples include Loewe's first store in Osaka, specialising in the maintenance and repair of LOEWE leather products, and the introduction of RE.UNIQLO STUDIO at flagship London stores.


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


UK-based Vivobarefoot is developing VivoBiome, a scan-to-print circular footwear system. This groundbreaking 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.


Filippa K has collaborated with manufacturers Lenzing and Riopele, along with forestry cooperative Södra, to create a new recycled material from textile waste and wood cellulose. This sustainable material debuted in the brand's S/S24 collection, showcasing their commitment to circular fashion.


Furthermore, Filippa K commissioned Swedish artist Micael de Leeuw to craft a series of tapestries using leftover yarns from previous collections. This creative initiative highlights their dedication to utilising resources efficiently. The tapestries were presented at the opening of the brand's flagship store in Amsterdam.


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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