Everybody already heard about sustainable fashion. However it might be difficult to explain what it really means. Sustainable developement refers to strategies and concepts that we will better define for you to become a successful designer!
Sustainability is a trendy word we hear a lot nowadays, a broad topic. But, what does it means related to the apparel industry? Here a clue to better understand this holistic word: Circular model.
Here 3 strategies for circular models:
The first one is “Closing the loop”. This concept of closed-loop ensures a flow of resources from post-use to production of new products.
The second one is called “Narrowing the loop”. It means ensuring resources efficiency, and the use of fewer resources per product unit.
Finally, the third one is “Slowing the loop”, which means ensuring longer product live by designing for longevity.
Therefore, the system thinking of using wisely natural ressources is key in the strategy. However, sustainable fashion involves more than just natural ressources. Being aware of ethical & social praticies and policies are also part of it. A circular economy is a business model that creates, delivers and captures value for all its stakeholders without depleting the natural, economic, and social capital it relies on.
“Sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
From the UN’s Brundtland Report Our Common Future, in 1987
The fashion industry has the inglorious reputation to be responsible for 10 % of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Obviously, it becomes urgent to take action as an entrepreneur. In 2015, studies in Europe from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation revealed that circular economy has the potential of reducing 70% of greenhouse gas emissions, and increasing 4% of employment.
Sustainability has a bright future!
Circular economic thinking is based on the idea of the economy being restorative and regenerative — to strengthen social and environmental resources.
3P’s of the triple bottom line — People, Planet and Profit — is an accounting framework to lead a successful and sustainable business. It enables the company to analyse its social and environmental impact while being profitable.
When designing apparels, sustainability must be at the heart of the creative process to make a product that retains value during its all life cycle: from the conception to the waste of it by consumers.
There are so many ways to incorporate sustainability in a fashion business: Sourcing natural fabrics from fair trade (e.g: The Better Cotton Initiative), developing collaborative partnerships between brands and local artisans, creating new systems and services (share, repair…), making more durable and multifunctional products, or even getting inspired from nature to make better use of resources.
By Dr Martin Frick (UN Climate Change)