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Sustainable Marketing in the Fashion Industry

Sustainable Marketing in the Fashion Industry

The fashion industry is one of the few industries that has grown consistently over the past decade. However, continuing to grow in the future on a sustainable basis is a challenge.

With the current rate of production and consumption of fashion products, the textile industry faces threats from environmental neglect and overuse of resources. More than $500 billion in value is lost each year due to underuse of clothing and lack of recycling. This situation is not only detrimental to society and the environment, but also forces fashion companies to consider resource costs, which directly affect profits.

Recent Fashion Business Landscape

In recent decades, the fashion industry has grown into a thriving business, and researchers are studying its impact on economic flows around the world. The global apparel, fashion, and luxury industries have enjoyed market growth over the past 15 years, outpacing even high-growth sectors such as technology and telecommunications.

Fashion business brings a lot of profits, but it is also an industry known for frequent changes and high risks for new businesses entering the market. The globalization of the fashion industry has led to the relocation of production from Europe and North America to Asia and developing countries, including Vietnam.

Sustainable Performance in the Fashion Industry

The Pulse Score index is considered a typical example of measuring the sustainability performance of the fashion industry.

Fashion Industry Pulse Score

The Pulse Score was developed to measure and track the sustainability of the global fashion industry across key social and environmental impact areas. The score is based on the Higg index developed by the Sustainable Apparel Alliance, a set of tools for measuring and scoring a company or product’s sustainability performance. This index consists of 3 parts: “brand”, “facilities”, and “product”.

The “brand” part measures the level of transparency, environmental/social impact monitoring, and the cooperation of fashion brands with establishments. The “facilities” part concerns environmental measures, and the “social” part is applied by suppliers in the fashion industry. The “product” part refers to the design processes aimed at finding the best solutions regarding design and material selection in coordination with sustainability.

The fashion industry Pulse Score represents measurements on a scale of 1 to 100, with scores below 20 defined as weak and scores above 70 as strong. Over the past few years, the fashion industry’s Pulse score has improved from 32 to 42.

Sustainable solutions in the fashion industry

According to Global Fashion Agenda, fashion brand CEOs have an important influence on sustainable development in the industry because their decisions affect the entire value chain. Therefore, CEO Agenda 2019 emphasizes actions towards sustainability including:

Supply chain traceability has a direct correlation with implementing a circular business model. This process begins with the extraction of raw materials, continues with material processing, manufacturing, product packaging, transportation and disposal.

Fight climate change. Fashion’s impact on climate change needs to be tracked and measured throughout the value chain. The life cycle stages of dyeing and finishing, yarn preparation and yarn manufacturing appear to be the three main contributors to the industry’s global pollution impacts.

Efficient use of water, energy and chemicals. The fashion industry is known for its negative impact as an industry that uses a lot of water and energy. Cotton is one of the most water-wasting fibers in fashion. Another important issue is the use of chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides and dyes. Fertilizer use is also particularly evident in cotton production, which uses nitric and phosphoric fertilizers whose excessive use leaves traces in the water.

Safe working environment. A particular challenge to the sustainable development of the fashion industry are issues related to working conditions, labor exploitation, workers’ rights, gender discrimination and child abuse. Related to all these questions, the fashion industry is often accused of supporting modern slavery.

Sustainability perspective from the consumer perspective

Sustainability is today one of the important criteria on the basis of which consumers make their purchasing decisions. According to Fashion Revolution, a survey of 5,000 people aged 16-75 in Europe’s 5 largest markets including Germany, England, France, Italy and Spain shows that, when choosing to buy a fashion brand, consumers choose Knowing the brand is important:

  • Communicate how sustainable the product is on the packaging (72%),
  • Explain what the product is made of on the packaging (77%),
  • Clearly state where they get their raw materials and ingredients from and who makes the products (77%),
  • Share detailed information about wages and working conditions for people in your global supply chain (66%),
  • Provide information on how they apply socially responsible practices (70%),
  • Provide information about how they apply environmentally responsible practices (74%)

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