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Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead
Wherever you live in the world, sustainability and the effect that your business has on the environment around us are ever-increasing hot topics. From ethical trading to single-use plastics, people everywhere are being encouraged to consider what changes we can implement and how we can continue living – but with much less impact.
Receiving much scrutiny is the fashion industry: sourcing of fabrics, use of dyes, ethical labour, overall mileage and use of plastics are all areas where consumers and lobbyists want to see change. And, with younger consumers feeling that it’s important that their values align with the brands they like – including 52% of Millennials and 48% of Gen X – it’s not just a good PR or selling opportunity but a catalyst for moral change.
So, what methods are retailers employing to make a difference? Here’s our round-up of recent retail innovation.
Our customer, ASOS, have stepped up their fit accuracy to help customers make more informed choices, helping to reduce the number of miles – and potential returns – that their items are making using augmented reality. Instead of viewing one model who might not represent the customer’s chosen size, a customer can select a model that might match their height and/or size. Then, ‘See My Fit’ digitally maps the product onto that model in a realistic way, taking account of the size, cut and fit of each individual garment.
Having recycling points in a store isn’t a wholly new concept, with many brands such as & Other Stories, M&S and Zara running clothing deposit schemes, but H&M are bringing in technology to aid the process. Starting in their New York City flagship store, H&M is set to install “smart” recycling bins across its stores in a bid to encourage more shoppers to use its Garment Collecting initiative and donate their old clothes. Customers can bring in unwanted clothing, then after placing their bag into the bin, the donation is weighed and the digital screen displays a QR code that gives the shopper a 15% discount code to either spend in-store or online.
Our customer, Whistles, is a great example of designing for a more environmentally-friendly future. Their plan is to substitute a selection of their fibres with more sustainable alternatives, such as recycled polyester or regenerated cashmere. Their current Sustainable Collection features a variety of items that customers can buy now, with more items being added as they strive for a more sustainable future.
And it’s not just in-house brands. Net-a-Porter has released a new platform, Net Sustain, with an edit of brands that meet various sustainability criteria to make ethical shopping even easier for their customers. Both beauty and fashion brands have been curated and have to align to at least one aspect from a list of human, animal and environmental welfare rights.
Jeans – and specifically cotton – use astonishingly high numbers of water. The Ellen McArthur Foundation suggests that 25 billion gallons of water is needed for one year’s worth of global textile production (including cotton farming).
However, Levi’s are instigating change by reusing water during cotton production and creating new finishes that require less water than traditional processes. Called their ‘Water<Less®’ techniques, they now use more than 20 water-saving finish techniques, whilst also sharing our methods with others to inspire industry-wide progress. Currently, more than 67% of all Levi’s® products are made with the ‘Water<Less®’ techniques, with the goal to be 80% by the end of this year, saving more than 3 billion litres of water and recycling 2 billion litres.