This past week, three members of our team here at Suuchi Inc. attended the “Retail in 2020 and the Role of Sustainability” panel hosted by The Fashion Institute of Technology and The NPD Group.
The talk and following panel were led by Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst for The NPD Group, who discussed the trends of retail over the past decade and the projections of what is to come. Cohen covered some key ways that consumer patterns have changed, who does it best in the industry and what is required for all brands to keep up.
The main takeaways? Sustainability and innovation (two things Suuchi Inc. cares deeply about).
After Cohen’s talk, four panelists discussed what they have done to make the fashion industry more sustainable. The panelists were: Taryn Hipwell, Founder of Beyond the Label and author of “How to Shop for Shi(f)t”; Sabra Krock, Creative Director and Co-Owner of Everything But Water; Valérie Martin, Vice President, Global Communications & Culture, ALDO Group; and Vanessa Urenda, Co-Founder of LAMINI.
The panel focused on how sustainability in the fashion industry is now more necessary than ever, from manufacturing all the way to packaging. With younger generations especially, the full story behind their product is expected to be readily available. Consumers are looking to support brands who believe in the same causes they do, which requires total supply chain transparency from the brand.
Valérie Martin advised brands that they cannot just talk the talk when it comes to supporting a cause — they have to walk the walk, too. Even if it means taking more time to roll out on announcing your initiative, your brand should be fully educated on how you are going to make the strongest impact on the causes you’re supporting.
For her brand, LAMINI, Vanessa Urenda discussed how she has made her brand more sustainable, not only from the materials they use, but by using manufacturers who are also committed to an eco-friendly process. By doing this, it not only helps keep our beautiful planet healthy, but creates safer, high-quality products for her customers.
Many major companies and officials have chosen to ignore the need to create more sustainable manufacturing processes. Sabra Krock recognized that there is a need to protect the beautiful water destinations that inspired her brand. That was how the company’s “Water is Everything” initiative was born. By educating herself, her employees, and by teaming up with the right people, Everything But Water has been able to make an impact in ocean clean-up and creating more awareness for their audience.
Spreading the message is the biggest takeaway that Taryn Hipwell emphasized. Brands, manufacturers, designers and consumers should constantly be educating themselves on the latest eco-friendly practices in fashion manufacturing and spreading that information to everyone. Just telling one person a “fun fact” on sustainable manufacturing can cause a positive chain reaction, continuously passing on that information and creating better shopping practices.
While the four panelists have had a huge impact on creating a more sustainable future for fashion manufacturing, there is still so much more that needs to be done. On a global scale, textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of clean water. Additionally, Krock’s initiative found that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by weight.
With all of this alarming information so readily available, there are steps brands can take to do their part to make a change. Brands and designers can partner themselves with a manufacturer who knows the importance of keeping our world healthy and provides them with a transparent supply chain. They can also choose to use safer, natural materials in their products and avoid the ones that are causing major damage to our environment.
If all else fails, the importance of creating more awareness about sustainable fashion manufacturing cannot be emphasized enough. Just by educating one person, it creates an example for smarter shopping.