Report: Fashion Industry Knows It’s Dirty, Still Won’t Clean up Act

According to a new report from The Global Fashion Agenda, the fashion industry is more aware of its negative impact on the environment than ever before, but is still doing little to change it.

Compiled for the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, and detailed by WWD, the report “makes clear that while sustainability is more of a priority than ever for fashion firms, the industry is struggling to act.”

52 percent of executives polled for the report said “sustainability acted as a guiding principle for every strategic decision they made last year,” and 66 percent of those executives said that “they have multiple sustainability targets within their companies,” numbers that are up 18 and 10 percent from 2017.

But, on the flip side, the report also found that the numbers associated with actual change — as opposed to those associated with memos and the promise of change — were still nothing to be proud of. “The ‘pulse’ score of the report, GFA’s ‘health measure’ for the industry, is still ‘weak’ at only 38 out of 100,” WWD said.

Somewhat predictably, the report found that mid-size, large, and luxury players “still lead the way” when it comes to sustainability efforts “like efficient water use and supply chain traceability,” but smaller companies offering low-priced goods were “significantly behind in sustainability practices, having made little to no progress last year.”

And even if those practices trickle down the market, they wouldn’t remedy the increasingly foreboding “end of use” issues, which focus on “how garments are used after they’re discarded.” That problem, the report found, “is simply too large to be managed by a single brand or retailer.”

So, while a “closed loop” is the quixotic goal — a system that produces new product using only recycled fabrics and materials — the report said that “the fashion industry seems a ways off from using any recycled products, much less basing its entire production on them.”

“Even under optimistic assumptions, the industry’s existing solutions and business models will not deliver the impact needed to transform the industry,” the report said. “Fashion needs a deeper, more systemic change.”

You can read more about it at WWD.

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