The winds of change are blowing the fashion industry towards a more
sustainable future, but at a slower pace than last year, a study reveals.
While the industry at large has improved its social and environmental
performance, findings from the Global Fashion Agenda, Boston Consulting
Group, and Sustainable Apparel Coalition demonstrate that fashion companies
are not implementing sustainable solutions fast enough to counterbalance
negative environmental and social impacts of the rapidly growing fashion
The study, which measures the pulse of the fashion industry and allocated a
score, concludes if the industry does not implement changes at a faster
rate, it will not be able to achieve the United Nations Sustainable
Development Goals or meet the Paris Agreement.
management, target setting and implementation of sustainability initiatives
of the fashion sector. It is based on the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s
(SAC) proprietary Higg Index and extends its scope to extrapolate its
findings to the entire industry. The Higg Index is the most extensive and
representative existing transparency measurement tool of the industry.
Although continued progress is encouraging, its decreasing speed is
concerning, states the report. In the last two years alone the apparel and
footwear industry grew between 4 to 5 percent, in line with projections
through 2023 that show annual growth of approximately 5 percent. This is
largely driven by increasing demand in Asia-Pacific and developing
By 2030 the global apparel and footwear industry is expected to grow to 102
million tonnes in volume and USD3.3 trillion in value. Moreover, the
Sustainable Development Goals estimated that global carbon emissions need
to be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030 if global warming is
to be limited to a 1.5 degree Celsius increase and net zero carbon
emissions are to be reached around 2050.
Consumer awareness is growing, but not yet a purchase driver
As news outlets and social media shine a light on social and environmental
responsibility in the fashion industry, consumer concern is growing.
Mentions of sustainability in social media increased a third faster than
overall social media growth between 2015 and 2018. Awareness is highest
among younger people, especially Millennials.
Disruptive solutions and innovation are key to a sustainable future
The industry must innovate and invest in order to target the unsolved
challenges in the value chain with new solutions. Fashion companies must
join forces with suppliers, investors, regulators, NGOs, academia and
consumers to create an ecosystem that supports transformational innovation
and disruptive business models.
But as the continues to tick, there is still a significant part of the
global fashion industry – 10 to 15 percent of companies – that has not yet
embarked on any advances towards more responsible practices.
Article and image source: Pulse of the Fashion Industry, 2019 update, by
Global Fashion Agenda, Boston Consulting Group, and Sustainable Apparel
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