Blog || - Slow down, Reduce, Responsibility

"Slow down" is a much-heard word in this Corona-age. A word that you don't immediately associate with the world's clothing industry, which produced 114 billion garments last year[1]. Maybe it's not always voluntary, but now we hear more about forced delay in the fashion industry with brands not needing their collections from producers. The British Fashion Council (BFC) and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) called on brands to launch a new collection twice a year instead of the traditional four times a year[2], to which several fashion companies complied[3]. In addition, there was a forced delay because less or no export and import was possible during corona. Also, less clothing was sold in the shops[4].

Launching fewer collections per year is, of course, more sustainable. It ensures less clothing production, which automatically also means less use of raw materials and fewer emissions. Fewer flights from journalists and the public during the many fashion weeks which are linked to the launch of these new collections; thus less emissions from aviation. And, last but not least, a re-education of the consumer who buys the clothing, but no one needs a new wardrobe four times a year, twice a year is really (more than) enough. Of course this fits really well with Wolkat's vision; before recycling, the best option for the environment is to buy and to produce less clothes.

The above reductions are good for environmental sustainability (planet), but what about economic (profit) and social sustainability (people)? Recently it became known that during the Corona crisis a number of brands withdrew their orders from production companies in countries such as Bangladesh, putting pressure on the companies and their employees[5].

As a reaction to this, the initiative 'Lost Stock' came up with an online platform where clothing is offered per box. The clothing comes from brands that cancelled their orders to factories in Bangladesh because of the corona crisis[6]. Part of the revenue goes to a charity that helps dismissed and unpaid employees in the clothing industry. A disadvantage of the platform is that the responsibility is taken away from the brands[7] that withdrew the order. In addition, the buyer does not know what exactly is inside the box, which can cause textile waste if, for example, the clothes do not fit, don’t combine with the rest of the wardrobe or are simply not the taste of the buyer.

The question remains: who is responsible and who takes responsibility; the authorities, the brands or the consumer? According to Wolkat, all three parties have a share of responsibility in this. Whereas the (Dutch) government is now going to work out in practice how the sustainability goals in textile and fashion for 2030 (goal: textile products consist of 50% sustainable materials, 30% of which are recycled) and 2050 (goal: The whole of the Netherlands is circular with a closing textile chain) [8] can be achieved, it is necessary that companies change their business models drastically and permanently, with attention on planet, people and last but not least profit. With clothing that is not guided by trends, but by the conditions under which it is made and where the focus is on quality, not quantity[9].


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Kimberley van der Wal

Business Development

+3113 - 580 17 13