Sustainability has become a buzzword which has turned a few heads, and for good reason. Consumers are shifting their purchasing decisions in order to create a cleaner environment through the clothes they wear. To this day, the fashion industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions and nearly 20% of wastewater.
While the environmental impact of flying is still known, fashion can suck up more energy than both aviation and shipping combined. As awareness and concern for sustainability grows, it is extremely important to minimise the impact retailers can have on the environment.
So, what does we mean by sustainability? Other than as a fancy word that is attached to the hanging tag on garments.
Sustainable fashion is a process of fostering change to fashion products through sustainable practises that consider environmental, social and economic implications. More than ever, the consumer has become more aware and do not only pay attention to the quality of garments, but also the entire supply chain and production process.
The Four Main Issues to Consider:
- Water consumption and contamination (high levels are not only consumed in the production of clothing, but also when we wash our clothes)
- Energy emissions (high use of energy in the production of synthetic fabrics, for example, and in the washing, drying and ironing of our clothes)
- Chemical usage (fertilizers and pesticides used in the production of raw materials like cotton)
- Waste creation (the levels of textiles that are incinerated or sent to landfill are enormous).
Why Is Sustainable Fashion So Important?
Sustainable fashion brands create fashion, which is considerate of humanity and the environment, needing to reduce the environmental impact wherever possible.
Today, the modern consumer is considering the importance of sustainability and are more environmentally conscious than ever. Individuals are choosing garments and materials that are engineered to last longer while ditching the cheap synthetics which do not grow naturally, and instead come from chemicals and polymers. Recent examples include high-street names, committing to use more sustainable fabrics. To encourage recycling, retailers are calling for customers to bring in their unwanted clothes in exchange for in-store vouchers.
Around 70 million barrels of oil a year are used to make polyester fibres in our clothes, in addition to a shirt made from polyester that has double the carbon footprint compared to one made from cotton.
Although it may seem as though polyester is an easier choice for quick-drying tees that are cheap and readily available, did you know that it can take up to 200 years for that piece of clothing to decompose?
This indicates how important it is for consumers to think about how their purchase affects the environment; and choosing sustainable fashion is an important choice that we can all make in order to help address what is a growing and compelling issue.
Sustainable fashion perfectly takes into account the entire supply chain of the life cycle of a garment, from how and where it is made, to when it ends up in a landfill. Opting for natural fibres over synthetic fibres for example, wool, cotton or linen thereby reduces the resources consumed by the industry.
While big industries are trying to get on board by making garments out of natural fibres, it will still take time. However, small steps make a big difference and it is still possible to make different choices to respect the resources that have gone into making your clothes, to minimise the environmental impact and to choose sustainable fashion for the better.
As the environmental mantra goes, this can also be applied to fashion.
Reduce – reduce the environmental impact by taking into consideration what your clothes are made from, opt for natural fibres over synthetic fibres derived from fossil fuels.
Re-use – It may not be realistic to constantly buy high quality pieces. However, these items can be worn for longer by consumers. Hiring or borrowing items, especially if consumers are only going to wear them once, is another tactic that retailers can market to.
Recycle – Clothes and shoes can be recycled in textile recycling bins so re-usable items can have some sort of second life as they will be turned into industrial scraps.
Where to get started? Your Data
The most valuable asset a company has is data.
While a lot of brands are working towards developing circular systems whereby garments become fully recyclable after use, sustainable fashion brands are on the rise and over half of British consumers are more likely to choose a retailer who promotes and delivers on sustainability so now is exactly the right time to focus on sustainability in both the short and long term.
The first thing all retailers should consider is their data. Data from the manufacturing process, the sales process and beyond can all inform the decisions that retailers can make. Easy access to company-wide data improves this decision-making process and opens new opportunities for bringing sustainability inside an organisation.
For a full guide on how to cleanse your data and create a data strategy to develop a single source of truth, click here.
A single true source of data from every part of the manufacturing process enables retailers to better plan and forecast stock needs based on their actual customer needs, reducing waste and costs while promoting a long-term sustainability focus.
With the insights gained from a fully harmonising data process, retailers can predict, with greater accuracy, the profile of their customers and tailor their manufacturing to meet the needs of their customers without too much excess stock. Here is an article that explains how an accurate profile of the customer can help the retailers drive growth.
At Data Clarity, we have developed ClarityOmnivue, a full end to end data management system to unify data sources and gain a full view of customers, stock, and business information. We have worked with retailers like Paul Smith to develop ClarityOmnivue that has given them the ability to easily identify and reconcile their data and providing all the information they need to know about a single customer. For more information, click here.
Furthermore, Paul Smith are passionate about maintaining a sustainable approach across all aspects of their business, and continually assess the part they play in creating a more sustainable fashion industry. As of December 2019, 80% of Paul-Smith-owned shops in the UK run on 100% green energy. For more information regarding Paul Smith’s path to a sustainable future, click here.
By utilising every valuable piece of data available, retailers can maximise the value of held stock to meet consumer needs, cut waste and improve sustainability. Most overstock issues detected and addressed quickly with a real-time global view of the entire inventory.
For retailers, this means that every sale can be fulfilled while significantly reducing the need to carry excessive stock that would either be marked down or sent to a landfill.
For more information about how data can improve the sustainability of your business, contact our data experts today.