This summer, New World Fight Club hosted a summit for retail managers from all over Europe for one of their clients, to raise awareness on the value of integrating sustainability and social responsibility in the fashion retail industry. What does it take to run a more responsible retail operation? As it turns out, thinking out of the box and getting creative with your brand will make you a preferred option in the eyes of your consumer.
“Make it as easy as getting a Starbucks”
Participants replied on how to make the fashion industry more sustainable discussed at the Copenhagen Summit this year
As a diverse and interdisciplinary sector, the fashion industry has always been expert at combining personality, creativity and usefulness, with the aim to create something that we consumers, love and care about. As such, it could be the perfect example to other industries adopting sustainability and social responsibility in a way that is fun and inspiring.
The reasons to work towards a sustainable future are abundant. This year, the world’s population will cross the seven billion mark.. Whereas demand and consumption are ever more increasing, natural resources to supply food and water for everyone will continue to decrease. If this is reality, how could we still justify using energy intensive fittings and waste generating processes in our retail processes ?
Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth was one of the first to raise awareness among consumers. Since then, we have witnessed a shift in the way consumers think about what they buy. Now, 54% of Europeans say they regularly ‘shop green’ (BCG), consumers would pay 5-10% more for ‘green products’ (BCG), and 73% of the participants of one survey found it important to be able to track the ‘green ways’ of companies (BCG).
This is the voice of the next generation. The so-called ‘smart consumer’ demands great consumer solutions, convenience, and transparency from the fashion industry. They would like to see the industry link up with civil society while still producing fashionable items. They want it to do more with less, create better products and skim its production processes. However, waste on the side of consumers is still as high as 90% compared to waste on the production side. Undoubtedly, there is still a lot to be done on either side.
There are a couple of examples of brands that have successfully ‘gotten creative with it’: Gucci is digitizing as much as they can through e-catalogues and e-cards, Nike Grind repurposes 25 million shoes each year, turning them into football and tennis courts, and the Timberland Earthkeepersinitiative has introduced a foldable box design that saves space and promotes reusability.
At the New World Fight Club summit, we dared our participants to adopt a similar way of thinking that is out of the ordinary. We inspire and urge companies to take a critical perspective that focuses their thoughts on what is of true value to their brand, and how to minimize what is redundant and therefore an inefficient use of resources
At retail, the opportunities to get efficient are many. It starts by asking yourself; what parts of my business have the biggest impact on the environment, what solutions can I come up with to minimize this impact, and what steps should I take to achieve the ultimate goal, that is, a waste-free supply chain? For example, think of what digitization can do for you, what you can save by buying locally, inspire your suppliers to limit their waste, skim redundant packaging materials at the same time giving your consumers the ultimate retail experience.
Set goals, take steps, start now and don’t stop trying.
In the race towards a sustainable future, the last thing we would want to waste is time.
written by Josephine Zwaan