- Sustainable Practices Checklist: Brands should consider implementing sustainability in four key areas – navigating demand, supply chain, merchandising and brand marketing.
- Removal of Seasons: Brands are breaking traditional seasonal cycles to satisfy ‘buy-now-wear-now’ preferences, overcoming the issue of overbuying.
- Strengthen Core Offering: To compete, brands and retailers must analyse trade performance to ensure that their core offering meets seasonal shifts in demand and never goes out-of-stock.
The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a shift in awareness of the importance of sustainability and protecting the environment. The much-documented murky waters of canals in Venice became clear – just one case which highlights the industrial impact on the planet which fashion plays a role in.
Some brands have long built sustainability into their DNA – Levi’s is just one example. Michael Kobori was appointed as Vice President of Sustainability in 2001. Four years later, Levi’s became more transparent by publishing the details of all its active suppliers in an unprecedented move. Kobori stated in an interview with Sustainable Nation from 2018 that, “Sustainability is probably number nine or ten in the list of factors that they use to choose [a pair of jeans]. But all other things being equal, sustainability can be a differentiator for the brand.” Levi’s is more interested in what’s right in the long term than short term profit.
As a brand, pursuing sustainable practices has a higher barrier to entry. Not only are materials more expensive, but there is niche knowledge required that may not exist internally. And the pay-off may not be felt immediately, or with much force. Despite the buzz surrounding sustainable products, not all consumers feel that it is worth splurging money on. According to Harvard Business Review, 65% of consumers said they would buy purpose-driven products but only 26% followed through. This forces brands to choose between sacrificing profit and losing customers.
However, sustainable materials are not the only way for brands to achieve sustainability.
This report aims to uncover how brands can champion sustainability by strengthening the supply chain and pivoting buying and merchandising practices. A checklist is included at the end of this report to guide execution of sustainable practices.
Over 12,000 data points were analysed from March to June 2020 in US and UK markets on the following brands – Levi Strauss, Patagonia, Everlane, Polo Ralph Lauren and H&M, to reveal insights from their sustainable assortments.