Chief Marketing Officer at Launchmetrics, a leading Brand Performance Cloud in Fashion, Luxury and Beauty.
The fashion industry is known for its ability to implement trends that have the power to shape society and affect the buying habits of consumers at large. But what is, at times, forgotten is the impact everyday consumers have on the industry. The truth is that the industry is largely dictated by consumer demand, and right now the demand for sustainable practices appears to be high. In a survey conducted by McKinsey during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, “67 percent [of respondents] consider the use of sustainable materials to be an important purchasing factor, and 63 percent consider a brand’s promotion of sustainability in the same way.” Thus, consumers could push the fashion industry to reckon with its impact on our environment.
Not only is the demand for sustainability high, but so is the conversation surrounding the subject. Data provided by Launchmetrics’ proprietary algorithm that measures Media Impact Value reveals that the MIV for sustainability grew by 54% during the first semester of 2022 compared to the first semester of 2021, accounting for $2 billion and $1.3 billion in value, respectively. (MIV is a monetary representation my company uses for brand performance.) This data looked into how much conversation “sustainability” generated in the media, as well as how many placements the term generated across sectors. When we compared the growing MIV to the placements that the industry generates, it became clear that consumers are starting to make changes. This shift means brands should reevaluate their operations to project the right brand image. And to achieve this, fashion brands should now look to take more concrete steps to embrace sustainability, a process which goes beyond brand image and campaigns.
Before we look into how the industry is embracing sustainability, we first have to understand what exactly sustainability means in the fashion industry. In this context, sustainability refers to creating and consuming clothes in a “sustained” way that protects the environment and those producing the clothes. Additionally, true sustainability should ensure that the creation process is environmentally and socially sound, from materials to manufacturing all the way to workers’ conditions and fair pay. Needless to say, this is a big change for an industry that for years has struggled with wasteful operations and negative environmental consequences. The fashion industry is responsible for the production of up to 10% of the global carbon dioxide output and accounts for one-fifth of the 300 million tons of plastic produced globally each year, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (via Bloomberg). So naturally, embracing sustainable practices is a challenge for the industry. However, this does not mean that the industry is not open to change; quite the opposite.
During the past few years, the fashion industry has become more conscious of its issues and has started to address the problem. In fact, fashion accounted for $618 million in MIV when it comes to sustainability during the first semester of 2022, according to Launchmetrics’ sustainability report, “Making Sense of Sustainability,” which was produced in partnership with the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana. (The report analyzed data from multiple platforms between January 2021 and October 2022.) The fashion industry accounted for one-third of the overall sustainability conversations. To me, this indicates how open …….