Sustainable fashion, as a concept, generated a tremendous buzz with consumers with climate change and textile worker rights. Fast-fashion will phase out with fashion companies focusing on environmental and humanitarian initiatives. COVID-19 paused the fashion community, and it is allowing brands to refocus on their goal for sustainable fashion in the future, as consumers are heading in this direction.
WWD suggests that "slow fashion' generated 90 million social impressions, "vegan leather" saw a search increase of 69%. Thus, consumer's interests have shifted into environmental and animal-free products. These topics are essential for fashion consumers, and brands need to integrate these issues into their messaging.
Boston Consulting Group announced risks for sustainable fashion in a post-crisis world. They suggest the following: Protecting critical assets, Solve immediate inventory challenges in partnership with suppliers, Integrate sustainability throughout business recovery strategies, and Accelerate transparency while increasing sustainability ambitions. This framework is essential for brands attempting to rebrand around past issues, and consumers will flock back to these companies once the world returns to a healthy state.
The same article suggests that nine out of 10 Generation Z consumers believe companies have a responsibility to address environmental and social issues. Committing to sustainability will ensure long-term and consistent growth with their customers and create an advantage amongst other brands. BCG presents an optimistic tone to their report because consumers will finally see the environmental and social issues being taken care of in the companies they enjoy.
Fashion consumption needs to slow down and examine the ethics behind the production of clothes. While fashion brands constitute these faults, consumers have the power to change fashion brand priorities to focus on environmental issues. Maybe it is time consumption shift towards slow fashion and sustainable fashion.
As companies focus on environmental issues, there is a rise of influence amongst top brands, and it is exciting to see how these companies are improving their initiatives. Stand Earth graded 45 top fashion companies on the strength of their climate commitments, Levis and AEO scored high for reducing their emission, while ALDO and Hanes scored in the negatives. While two companies scored high out of 45, this demonstrates a trend for climate commitments and emphasizes their efforts to change.
Garment workers are a foundation to fashion around the world, but they are the most affected by consumer behaviors. In 2019, NPR reported 40 workers in Delhi, India died from unsafe conditions. Brands need to address these issues because shoppers do not always see or hear these stories when they are buying clothes. Thus, brands will need to release how much they pay their works in these factories compared to wages in America.
Outsourcing manufacturing in India or China allowed companies to escape worker rights, and they are essentially allowed to underpay garment workers. Oxfam found that if brands absorb the cost of paying living wages, it would cost them less than 1% of the price of a garment. Brands should pay their workers' fair fees due to the conditions in these shops. However, as sustainable fashion rises, consumer behaviors will urge this issue to be a necessary fix. In the same report, women aged 18–25 make up 80% of the factory workers in the global garment industry. Their long hours of hard work have helped to create booming economies and large export industries for countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, and China. Women's rights is another social issue that consumers appreciate, and companies will have to protect these women from inhumane conditions and wages.