20% of global water waste and 10% of the global carbon footprint, billions of textiles in landfills—that’s the cost of having something new and cool to wear each season. But with the growing concern over the environment, it’s no wonder that young people are making sustainability the latest priority.
Ethical Fashion with Many Touchpoints
Luckily, today there are more and more ways to make sustainable fashion choices, including supporting sustainable, ethical brands; buying higher quality items that will last, and repairing, reusing, and recycling old items. Companies like Allbirds and Patagonia are seeing that choosing sustainable materials and production processes is paying off in terms of their bottom line. Even luxury brand Gucci recently announced its intention to turn carbon neutral. Big brands are turning to on-demand production, including Kornit Digital’s print-on-demand technology, to bring industry back home and revive it with innovation, while reducing waste, carbon emissions, water pollution, and unethical labor practices. Vegan fashion is also on the rise, with brands innovating and creating textiles to take the place of traditionally exploitative materials like leather or fur. Big retailers like Gap have banned fur in their stores, and brands that hold out and use problematic materials in production often find protestors at their stores.
Reduce, Reuse, Resale Marketplace
ThredUP, the e-commerce consignment company, projects that the secondhand market will reach $51 billion by 2023, with sales split between resale and thrift outlets. Today’s customers show willingness to purchase second hand, and the boom of online shopping has opened up their opportunities to do so (with Millenials and Gen Z leading the way). Because buying used items reduces waste and carbon footprint, it fulfills the sustainability trend extremely well. Secondhand purchases have emerged as a reaction to the rise of “fast fashion” , and brands will need to improve their products’ quality if they are to survive in the resale age.
It Starts with You
Social media brings power to the customers themselves, and this movement is quickly spreading around the globe. The World Economic Forum has also created the Global Shapers Community, with hubs around the world that promote community-centered sustainability-focused events, like thrift fairs, dialogue-promoting events, and community initiatives.
This combination of sustainable incentives and internal and external market forces is ensuring that sustainability will continue to be a driving force in fashion—even once this season’s trends pass.