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What Are 5 Key Elements for Unlocking More Sustainable Awareness, Consumption, & Production in Fashion?

Our Impact Programs Lead reflects on COP27 and where the fashion industry is at in its sustainability journey.

What Are 5 Key Elements for Unlocking More Sustainable Awareness, Consumption, & Production in Fashion?

As we near the end of the year, there’s a natural inclination to reflect on change, progress, and challenges that came before us over the last 11 months. That couldn’t be truer at this year’s COP27, where we are beginning to see reflections on progress within the fashion industry, and how it can contribute towards halving emissions by 2030. There were talks on circulatory hosted by Lily Cole, promises from big brands such as H&M and Kering to purchase over half a million tonnes of low carbon fibers and paper packaging, and the signing of open letters by brands to showcase their commitment to climate change.

As an agency who has a plethora of fashion clients and acting as a Fashion Avenger, we would like to stop and consider: how can fashion unlock more awareness, limit consumption, and change production to help achieve sustainability? Looking at the brands we work with and trends within the industry, we considered 5 key elements we believe could be crucial to supporting this journey.

1. Collaboration

Brand collaboration and partnership has always been successful when it comes to encouraging more consumers to buy. However, what happens when you use this collaboration power for good? Veja, a brand who champions sustainable practices, partnered with Sea Shepherd earlier this year to not only create a new product, but form a partnership that makes a bold statement on nature and conservation. Sea Shepherd is a radical organisation who fight unregulated, unreported, and illegal fishing and whaling. Veja’s co-founder, Sebastian Kopp, quotes the following:

“It’s not saving the ocean through a sneaker,” says Kopp. “Joining forces with people you admire is super important today. Sea Shepherd is known in the US and UK, but not very much in Europe. For us, it’s using Veja to make the actions of Sea Shepherd more well known.”

This is a leading example of a brand using its global presence and product offering to promote and further a cause it believes in.

Collaboration doesn’t just come down to brand partnerships, but also what can be seen within the supply chain. Our client, Stella McCartney, believes in a collaborative approach forming a part of their overall sustainability strategy.

“We believe in the power of collaboration and working together. That’s why, when we find endemic and complex issues in our supply chain, we look to partner with local experts, civil society organisations, like-minded brands, and suppliers to bring about long-lasting change. We do this because we recognize that we cannot solve these systemic problems on our own.”

A view that collaboration can not only bring about more awareness, but it can teach us some of the fundamentals needed when it comes to actioning a successful sustainability strategy.

2. Consumers

Understanding consumers and what they are asking for is another key element to ensuring a successful move to a more sustainable fashion industry. People are demanding to know more about brands and what they stand for. With the rise of accreditations like B Corp, being transparent and honest is becoming the standard. In fact, as we recently stated in another Insights piece, 75% of Gen Zers would prefer to buy sustainably rather than a brand name. It’s no surprise that there’s been a rise in popularity of pre-loved sites like Depop, Vinted and Ebay. As the talk of pre-loved, re-used, second-hand and circularity increases, brands need to listen up to what consumers are asking for, and work alongside them.

3. Disruption

It’s well known now that if you want to change, you must be willing to get uncomfortable. This means disrupting what we once knew to pave the way for a new way of thinking. Our client amika is a great example of this, who describe themselves as a “collective of creatives, hairstylists, chemists and product enthusiasts that like to bend the rules”. This way of thinking has led to an inclusive haircare brand that also gives back to the environment as part of its consumer journey. Thinking outside the box and looking beyond profit is what has made this brand a success. For every order over £30, Amika plants a tree in the consumer’s name – taking the hard work out of their hands, but also keeping them on the journey, and turning purchasing power on its head for the better.

4. Innovation

We sit within an innovative industry, fueled by forward thinking and industry-firsts when it comes to media and advertising. This is something that can and absolutely should be harnessed to benefit high-impact industries like fashion. Last year, we supported Nike with their Move to Zero campaign, which was an industry first – combining the power of media with the influence of fashion for good. The campaign raised carbon credits for Ecoat and charity donations with GoodLoop, which funded projects to sequest carbon and alleviate poverty, also planting 46,000 new trees.

Being both an Industry and Agency first, this highlights how innovative thinking can really benefit the way campaigns can run for our fashion clients, whilst having the goal of a net-zero 2030 in mind. What needs to happen next is for these types of campaigns and briefs to stop becoming firsts and start becoming the norm.

5. The Sustainable Development Goals

The 17 SDGs have some big targets to meet in 2030. When we attended the launch of the Fashion Avengers back in 2021, Gail Gallie, co-founder of Project Everyone, stated that Fashion was “one of the few industries that likely touches on every single goal in some way.” However, Goals like goal 12, Sustainable Consumption and Production, Goal 13 Climate Action, Goal 14 Life below Water and Goal 12 Life on Land success are hinged on more sustainable practices that need to come from the fashion industry. Implementing these targets into sustainability strategies won’t only help understand wider targets that need to be met by the industry, but also provides a global framework that has agreed to be met by 93 countries, realizing the wider ambition and the work that needs to be done to get there.

Something we realized when putting this together is whether you are collaborating, a consumer, disrupting, innovating, or working with the Sustainable Development Goals there is one gold thread that runs throughout them all – collective action. Working together is what is going to help us reach the targets and emission drops discussed at summits like COP27, so whether you are a client or a partner, we look forward to working together to helping get there.