Fashion has become an important topic of discussion lately. Sometimes with interesting examples of successful designers and brands that break through internationally, but unfortunately also with frightening images of appalling working conditions and the dramatic events in Bangladesh (Rana Plaza Factory). Especially after I read a scientific report about the negative environmental effects of fast fashion, written by Dr Andrew Brooks . It became clear that we need to find a solution to these problems. The debate on the sustainability – people, planet and profit – and the industry that produces fashion fortunately got through to the political arena and talk shows on TV.
The fashion industry needs to change
Not only because of the often appalling working conditions and the waste of fast fashion, but also from the perspective that the textile sector is responsible for 10% of global CO2 emissions according to the WWF. Especially the fast fashion industry leads to undesirable developments that are not good for our sustainable earth. The sector must now take responsibility and think of a breakthrough in their thinking and acting. I also believe that it is important that a brand is transparent about their products, because I am interested to know where my clothing comes from and who has made it. More people are becoming concerned and the personal involvement of the consumers is increasing as well. They are demanding to know more about the products that they are buying. Customers are even willing to boycott products if the company does not change towards a more sustainable business model. There have been numerous studies about sustainability or the circular economy. However, the final conclusion is the same in each study: companies that do not invest in becoming sustainable will eventfully have a great risk in losing their market share from their competitors. This shows that there is a huge demand for sustainable products in the fashion industry, and that companies can’t afford to ignore the social responsibility they have towards the society.
Luckily, there are some amazing and innovating brands that are changing the fashion industry in terms of sustainability. I would like to point out two examples of innovative fashion brands who are in my perspective the future stars of the fashion industry.
Bionic Yarn: A solution to the plastic waste in our oceans
Since its launch in 2009, Bionic Yarn has produced premium yarns and fabrics that are used in making denim, outerwear, backpacks, luggage and handbags for some of the leading fashion brands such as Timberland, Moncler, GAP, Topshop and G-Star Raw. Making Bionic Yarn is a three-step process. Firstly, the plastic bottles are melted and extruded into tiny fibers. Secondly, the fibers are spun together into what they call a “core-yarn.” Thirdly, they wrap a “helix” around the “core-yarn” to form a protective outer layer. This process creates a thread capable of transforming society’s plastic waste into high performance and luxury fabrics. The video below shows the story behind the brand.
MUD Jeans: Recycles your jeans’
MUD JEANS is a Dutch company who started this unique and innovative concept called Lease a Jeans. Instead of buying and owning a pair of jeans, you can now lease (or rent) your jeans. This remains the property of Mud Jeans. You pay an initial amount of €20 and then for 12 months you pay a monthly fee of € 5. After the jeans is being returned, Mud Jeans sends the jeans back to the supplier of the yarns to shred the jeans so that it can serve as raw material for new jeans’. The video below is from the CEO explaining the mission and vision of the brand.
Sustainable fashion is the future. More brands are recognizing this and are shift towards a sustainable path in order to increase their brand loyalty. But how are they doing this? To determine how these brands are changing their business model and enhance their brand equity by becoming sustainable, we must first know how a brand gets a certain value. One of the most common models for Customer-Based Brand Equity, is the model of Keller’s book, Strategic Brand Management, where the brand value is determined from the perspective of the consumer.
With brand value is generally meant that a brand adds value to a product, if it is compared with a similar product that cannot be identified as being of the same brand (Keller, 2003). In other words, if the Nike logo was missing, would an identical shoe still sell as well for the same price? I don’t think so. The goal is to reach the top of the pyramid, where loyal customers have made the mark in their hearts. Every consumer starts at the bottom, and it is up to the brand to take them step by step upwards until the top is reached. Below shows an illustration of the model and its layers.
According to Keller, a brand can do this in 4 steps:
- Who are you: To end up with someone to build up a strong relationship, he or she must know the brand first. Creating identity and brand awareness is the first step.
- What are you: The mark must give meaning to themselves. This meaning can be given in concrete performance, that is focused on the extent to which the product or the service performs the rational need of the customer.
- What about you: In the previous step, the brand itself has a meaning. What is the lifestyle of the customer and how will the brand enhance their lifestyle?
- What about you and me: This is the level where every brand strives to be, to build a relationship with customers, from loyal customers to a brand ambassador.
The development of a sustainable strategy goes different at each fashion brand. However, an important factor for all these brands is the consumer, it is therefore important that the brand strategy is in line with what appeals to consumers. And, of course with only a sustainability strategy you’re not there yet. Good marketing is just as important. Looking at developments of the fashion brands during the London Fashion Week, where more and more brands are showing their sustainable collections, we can see that sustainability will play an important role in the future of the fashion industry, but also in other sectors. People consume more sustainable products and are making more conscious product choices. And therefore, I am convinced the the demand is large enough for a fashion revolution towards sustainability.
”We believe in an industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure.” – Fashion Revolution