Fast-Fashion: What Some Of The Top Brands Are Doing To Preserve The Planet

By Teen Blogger: Hanna
Social Media Link: @Hanna_bnrd

Thanks to the web and social media, trends come and go rapidly, leading ‘fast-fashion’ stores such as H&M and Zara to renew their items each week, with an approximate 52 small collections per year, versus 4 in previous generations where new collections were simply launched with the change of seasons.

This incessant turnover in fashion leads to a huge textile waste both by consumers, who regularly buy clothes and dispose of out-of-trend items which consequently end up in landfills contributing to pollution, and by stores themselves. Over-production by fashion brands has indeed created extreme product surplus.

A few scandals have underlined the phenomenon such as the 2010 discoveries that H&M, Urban Outfitters and Primark, among others, were cutting their unsold clothes before throwing them out, to ensure the clothes could not be reused, thus adding to the tons of fabric which ends up each year in landfills.

The scandal resurged in 2018 when Burberry, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton were accused of burning unsold goods worth hundreds of millions, to avoid theft and retail sales outside of their chains.

The issues associated with ‘fast-fashion’ have been around for some time, but in the last decade, brands have sought to recover their ‘brand integrity’. The notion of ‘brand integrity’ is essentially the way a brand is perceived by people, relative to the promises it makes and the values it purports to sustain. Missing the mark on a brand promise can mean a big loss in term of credibility and consequently, in terms of business. The environmental scandal was a hard blow on all the brands involved, but especially the luxury ones, as their customers generally expect more from them.

However the bad press did bring progress, with brands making real headway on the sustainability front. One step taken by many is to join an ambitious project introduced by the Paris Agreement: The 1.5º C national pathways. This initiative involves 184 countries in which businesses are expected to take real steps to guarantee a low carbon future. It was introduced after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published an alarming report showcasing the level of climate change as ‘code-red’ for humanity, thus underlining the need for urgent climate action to maintain a habitable planet.

Among the companies that have committed to this plan is the French luxury brand Hermès, which has pledged to reduce its emissions and increase its use of renewable electricity. Moreover, Hermès remains an example to all in terms of fashion waste: their inventory is extremely limited and they therefore have no wasted products to lay off – in other words, demand for their items far outweigh supply. Other high-end brands that have committed to cutting carbon emissions include Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Chanel.

But sustainability is not limited to luxury brands and some mainstream labels - such as Nike - have attempted to improve their environmental target and have set science-based greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. In addition, Nike reports on its progress on an annual basis to the Science-Based Targets (SBT) initiative.

Meanwhile, Inditex, the firm that owns many of the labels you shop at including Zara, Bershka and Pull and Bear, has announced a new series of sustainability initiatives, including the goal for 100 percent of its cotton, linen and polyester to be sustainable by 2025. H&M, Uniqlo, Mango and others have also been working towards a more sustainable clothing model, with new eco-conscious collections and an encouraging wave of green initiatives.

Along with NGOs and governments, the fashion industry is mobilizing to fight against climate change and seems to be making headway.

Suggested Links:

Fast fashion: Inside the fight to end the silence on waste - BBC News