Since the concept of “sustainable fashion” was conceived in the 1960s, environmental consciousness in the fashion industry has slowly been developing. People have been trying to promote a more environmentally friendly fashion industry for a long time. In 2019, many industry giants joined this movement. KERING, LVMH, CHANEL, and many other fashion groups have begun to invest more in environmental protection and public welfare. GREENEXT was launched this year as part of this new wave of sustainability, relying on the founder’s 20 years of experience in the fashion industry and advocating for a sustainable and refined life.
As this year’s unpredictable epidemic has put sustainable fashion in a new light, new challenges have presented themselves to GREENEXT. People have started to become more thoughtful in their consumption and companies must adjust and actively respond to these market changes. What’s the fashion industry’s next step? Such issues caught the attention of Ontimeshow, a fashion incubation management platform. After reaching an understanding, we jointly launched a series of “sustainable fashion” webinars this April. In doing so, we hope to help drive fashion brands’ sustainable operations and further the industry’s sustainable development.
Experts in the industry share their insights covering the whole fashion industry including raw materials, design, market, brands, retail, and recycling.
“Today, sustainable development has become a hot topic. But, 25 years ago, it was just beginning to be discussed when I participated in the Sustainability Forum in Switzerland as a representative of the University of Tokyo and completed a doctoral thesis on the theme of “global warming and sustainable development”. These past 25 years have given me a sense of mission and responsibility to promote ‘greener’ fashion. This was also my original intention when founding GREENEXT, an online and offline platform to promote sustainable fashion and lifestyle.”
“During our experienced time in the niche designer brands market, we see how design occupies a very important position and reflects designers’ emotions. In this respect, the selection of fabrics, the production and structure of our products are all devoted to celebrating designers’ minds. We keep in mind that only physical interactions can truly build emotional links between people, but online communication has become an irreversible trend. We also actively seek the balance between offline interactions and online spread. And we accordingly take more measures towards brand incubation.”
“The problem is that there is too much, but there’s no simple solution to this… An abundance of clothes means one thing: most of what we are buying and producing eventually ends up as landfill. That’s tragic for designers – you spend your life designing for your consumers and you realize your ultimate customer could actually be the landfill. Who’s asking us to do the change? The CEOs and the teenagers. CEOs are the people making decisions and teenagers are our future consumers. Teenagers are going to demand it, we really have to deliver it.”
“At the core of NEIWAI is the lifestyle and inner workings of modern women. As a brand, we want to encourage more women to explore their identities and finally achieving the state of inner and outer integration. We don’t like to focus too much over ‘attitudes”, because what make these ‘attitudes’ matter are lively individuals. We hope to build our brand’s image by telling individual stories and really move people.”
“Nowadays, the young generation has taken a stance on environmental protection. 84% of consumers are willing to pay extra money for eco-friendly products.
We have five portraits targeting different types of eco-friendly consumers: 1. climate activism; 2. eco-fun groups; 3. second-hand goods buyers; 4. ecological minimalism; 5. conscious vegetarianism.”
“Retail is a direct link between the product and the consumer. If we don’t understand retail or implement the design concept through retail, there won’t be good sales performance. No product can live without good sales, it is doomed to become dead-stock before even appearing on the market. Brands can sell some stock by live stream, but live stream is only one of the sales channels to reduce stock, it should be a way to connect to consumers.”
“In the past 10-20 years, technology has also helped us and led us in finding new business models and even newer technology that can help make the entire fashion industry more sustainable. So, it’s not only about thinking in terms of fabrics, supply chains, or waste reduction. In terms of pattern design, technology can help us in very different ways…For example, it helps designers speed up the sample making process and design garments in virtual 3D instead. The aim is not to produce any garments at all, but to instead make the whole process from design to purchase virtual. ”
“How should we define ‘sustainability’? We need to follow the life cycle of a product, which includes the safety of the products, a sustainable production process, the safety and environmental friendliness of raw materials, the management of chemicals and reduction of production activities’ environmental impact.”
“Is sustainable fashion our priority now? As an effect of the epidemic, consumers’ preferences have changed. The safety and transparency of product production has become a top priority for them as they increasingly pay attention to the materials and even the suppliers behind their favorite brands. Fashion is a business, if we just blindly pursue our own immediate desires, the business will not last for long. In the past, supply chain was a one-dimensional way to talk about product production. Today, we need to create empathy with our consumers, and try to follow their interests.”
Sustainable fashion still has a long way to go. But, there are signs that consumers start to change, the expected retaliatory consumption never comes. People start learning to read sew-in label, reducing unnecessary consumption and thinking what is really good for a healthy and comfortable life.