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Retail & Fashion eBulletin: July 2021

22 July 2021

Welcome to our summer eBulletin. Following our Sustainable and Ethical Fashion webinar in February, we were left contemplating what the future of the industry will look like. We were lucky enough to host Oliver Wayman of Bottletop, Amanda Johnson of The Sustainable Angle, Eshita Kabra of ByRotation and Elizabeth Peyton-Jones of The Responsible Trust for Models, who each provided incredibly insightful commentary and critical discussion around the fashion industry’s journey towards a more sustainable market. Whilst difficult to narrow down, we set out below our three key take-aways:

  1. Climate crisis – The fashion industry is responsible for more annual global carbon emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Whilst discouraging, it is possible for the sector to make small steps to reduce this. The use of technologies can help fight the inefficiencies, such as catalytic clothing which uses a catalytic surface to purify air, and the role of models and influencers should also not be underestimated, with many playing a huge role in encouraging brands to adopt and promote ESG principles (see our article titled ‘A model for change’ below for further discussion).
  2. Supply chain – From factory workers to models, various stakeholders in the fashion industry are paying the ultimate price of fast fashion. Society has been conditioned to expect new and low priced clothes all the time, but the hope is that consumers will vote with their wallets and support brands that invest in the due diligence of their supply chain and prioritise fair practices.
  3. Circularity – The fashion industry has become very comfortable with waste. According to Greenpeace, global production of clothing has doubled in the past 15 years contributing to up to £140m worth of clothing waste every year in the UK. The industry must do more to prioritise and incentivise the recycling, re-using and re-circulation of clothing to work towards more circular practices. With the pandemic giving us a chance to take stock on our habits and rented fashion on the rise, it’s hoped that perceptions will change around sharing and second-hand goods.

We have continued the theme of sustainable and ethical fashion in this eBulletin and discuss the use of NFTs in the fashion space, the role of legislation in driving sustainable and ethical fashion, as well as the role of models and their vital role in the sustainability solution.

NFTs and the fashion industry

Once considered niche and reserved for those in the gaming world, NFTs (non-fungible tokens) have now become coveted items in art, music and fashion. The most significant event to date that proves that NFTs have broken through into the fashion mainstream occurred on 27 February 2021 when design studio Rtfkt and 18-year-old digital artist Fewocious released three versions of customised Air-Force One virtual sneakers as NFTs. The virtual sneakers ranged from $3,000 to $10,000 each. Directly compared to Air Dior, Nike’s most coveted shoe of recent years, the cost of the virtual sneakers exceeded the price commanded by the Air Dior on both the primary and secondary market. In total, Rtfkt and Fewocious collaboration sold 621 of the virtual sneakers, generating $3.1 million in sales in just 7 minutes.

Established brands and fashion houses are now realising that there is a market to be capitalised on and they are embracing it. Companies from Gucci to LVMH to Champion have all either released NFTs or expressed plans to release them in the future.

You can read more on the fashion industry’s adoption of NFTs here.

The role of legislation in driving sustainable and ethical fashion

Attitudes towards environmental and social issues have improved drastically in recent years, however, we remain living in an era of fast fashion where an artisan coffee can cost more than a t-shirt. Efforts to reduce pollution and improve working conditions in the fashion industry largely rely on voluntary commitments and some rightly feel that the fashion industry has been ‘marking its own homework’ for too long.

Here we examine the role legislation is playing in improving the sustainable and ethical practices in the fashion industry.

A model for change

Last month we saw climate change at the top of the agenda for both London Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week as well as at the G7 summit. More than ever, the spotlight is on the fashion industry and its impact on the environment. According to a recent report from the World Economic Forum, the fashion industry produces 10% of the world’s carbon emissions and is the second largest consumer of water globally.

Whilst the focus seems to be on what brands and fashion governing bodies can do, other stakeholders in the industry are also playing a key role. While models and influencers have often been seen as a driving force in the consumer demand for so-called fast fashion, more recently we have seen models find their voice and become increasingly conscious of the ethics and practices of the brands they work with. With a following of consumers who trust their opinions and recommendations, models are in a unique position to shape consumer practices and are mindful of the damaging reputational effects of being associated with unethical or unsustainable practices.

You can read the full article here.

Events

  • Associate Sophia Daw recently attended the Future Fabrics Expo 9 ½ in West London, which showcased thousands of sustainably produced textiles and materials sourced from agricultural waste, organic fibres and more. The Expo also debuted the ‘Nature-Positive Materials’ which spotlights materials that are nature-positive and grown in regenerative organic agricultural systems.
  • Sophia also attended the launch of Dirt, an organisation launched by model-turned-activist Arizona Muse. Dirt works to regenerate soil through supporting the Biodynamic Farming movement, and was advised by David Scott, May Delaney and Amy Torrance.
  • May recently attended the Forest for Change at Somerset House, designed by Es Devlin as part of the London Design Biennale. The outdoor experience was presented in partnership with Project Everyone, a not-for-profit agency founded by Richard Curtis, Kate Garvey and Gail Gallie to further awareness and engagement with United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development – an ambitious plan to eradicate poverty, inequality and climate change.
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