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Will Covid-19 Force Fashion Into A Sustainable Future?

The global pandemic that we’re currently facing, along with the resulting economic shutdowns have created a myriad of challenges for the fashion industry; a decline in consumer spending and disrupted supply chains to name but two. According to statistics from the United Nations, the fashion industry consumes more energy than both the aviation and shipping industry combined. Overall this accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions.  

However, the Covid-19 era may have one benefit in the industry – a shift to a greener and more sustainable future. 

Sustainable Purchasing Habit

Covid-19 has had a fast impact on customer’s spending habits. Globally, we’re seeing people switch their purchases to be more environmentally & ethically sustainable. This could be simple changes such as just buying less often, opting for garments that will stand the test of time rather than having to be changed seasonally.

In fact, Gucci – one of the biggest fashion houses globally, announced that they will no longer be taking part in the ‘fashion calendars of shows’. Pointing out the fact that the frenetic pace of the industry has a huge environmental effect. 

Action Based Impact

Whilst Covid-19 has closed businesses, retailers have taken actions to capitalise upon the demand for change, making the switch more sustainable choices easier for consumers. Selfridges launched ‘Project Earth’ in August, a scheme featuring resale, rental, refill and repair services across its fashion & beauty departments. They even went as far to include a second hand pop-up store in partnership with Oxfam. This benefits Selfridges not only by widening the reach of its premium fashion offerings, but it also sets a strong precedent for other players to enhance their sustainability efforts. 

Similarly, H&M have long been pioneering sustainability initiatives, such as their ‘Conscious Collection’ and their garment recycling services. 

Sustainable Brands have the immediate advantage

With Covid-19 continuing to bring economic uncertainty for consumers, things are likely to get worse before they get better, with consumers spending less for the foreseeable future. 

A trend we have seen however is buyers being far more selective, with a mindset towards quality, value and sustainability. Consumers are putting pressure on brands to ensure that their product is ethically manufactured and that it’s as good as it can be for the environment. 

The time consumers have spent at home has caused a radical reset to priorities that will be reflected in their lifestyles going forward. As a result, they are going to look for brands they can trust to pay attention to the ‘collective vision of a more sustainable future’. 

The winners coming straight out of the gate are the brands that have already incorporated sustainability into their business practices. Slow starters or late-comers could be heavily impacted by the radical change in consumer habits. 

Historically, the fashion industry hasn’t been too hot on collaboration, but the area of sustainability might be an area where there’s a way to share costs and benefits more broadly across multiple partners. In fact, the survival of the industry may very well depend on it. 

About the Author, AirX Coffee Masks;

The AirX Coffee Mask is woven using coffee yarn, a bio-tec material produced from ethically sourced coffee waste. This super-material is a waterproof, robust sustainable fabric. To learn more about our sustainable coffee masks, click here.