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Editor's pick Podcast product sustainability

Levi’s on the risks of the circular economy

“[The fashion industry] is 60% larger than it needs to be relative to the actual quantity of demand,” says Paul Dillinger, Head of Global Product Innovation at Levi’s, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

He is referring to the fact six out of 10 garments produced every year are being discarded to landfill or incinerated within the first year of their production. The result is that those working in this world need to either think about how you can eliminate overproduction, or instead build new business models around only making and selling the four that are actually wanted, he explains, even if it affects business growth.

An alternative response to that concept is the so-called “circular economy”, whereby items are not discarded but put back into the system, which to overly simplify matters, enables businesses to continue with growth while aiming for lesser impact. But Dillinger believes such moves are merely providing brands with a guilt-free alternative to keep overproducing at a point when the technology for a truly circular system isn’t yet scalable. He instead refers to the idea of credible “circular industrial ecologies”, which are much more complex to operate and achieve.

“One of them is a corporate compliance officer selling a new shiny penny to a board of directors in the C-suite, and the other one is a studious and scientific approach to really tackling a real challenge,” he explains.

At Levi’s, Dillinger is otherwise looking at key areas like reducing the brand’s use of water. “I think people’s right to drink fresh water should be prioritized above a company’s right to access fresh water for production,” he explains.

In this conversation, hosted in front of a live audience at the Current Global’s Innovation Mansion at SXSW 2019, he explains what that looks like through the  innovative work he’s been doing with hemp. He also gets technical with host Rachel Arthur about the many ways in which Levi’s is working to make its supply chain responsible in one of the most complex industries in the world.

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more. 


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Campaigns Editor's pick sustainability

Reformation helps customers offset their carbon footprint with new sustainable initiatives

Reformation is helping fight climate change with a campaign that enables its customers to offset their individual carbon footprints by supporting clean energy projects. The California-based sustainable label is launching “Carbon is Canceled”, which features a series of programs over the next few months that hope to encourage sustainable behavior.

Firstly, it is partnering with sustainable energy providers Arcadia Power to encourage customers to switch 50% of their electric energy bill to wind energy for no additional cost – and as a reward, receive a $100 gift certificate from the label.

Secondly, it is introducing “Climate Credits” with carbon offsite partners Native Energy. The tool enables customers on the Reformation website to purchase “credits” and have that monetary value be put towards verified carbon offset projects, such as clean energy and forestry projects that actively reduce CO2 emissions.

For example, for the price of $60, a customer can offset their own individual carbon emissions for the span of six months, and have that money be donated to suitable projects. Alternatively, customers can buy credits towards an entire family’s consumption and even towards a wedding’s.

Reformation has been entirely carbon-neutral since 2015, and this program is only one of the many initiatives that hope to encourage its cult following to think and shop more sustainably.

In 2015, it introduced Refscale, an eco tool that allows customers to see exactly how sustainable each individual Reformation garment is compared to industry standards. For Earth Day in 2018, it pledged to keep 75,000 pieces of clothing out of landfills that year by announcing a series of initiatives that support the resale of ‘gently loved’ Reformation items, teaming up with platforms such as ThredUp and Depop.

Are you thinking innovatively enough about sustainability? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more. 

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business Editor's pick sustainability

Evian taps Virgil Abloh for sustainable innovation role

Virgil Abloh

Multi-faceted designer, Virgil Abloh, has a new gig; this time as a creative advisor for sustainable innovation design at mineral water company, Evian.

The American designer, who is the founder of Off-White and creative director of Louis Vuitton menswear, will be helping the brand make its design process more sustainable.

“Evian is an iconic brand with a strong heritage in fashion and creativity,” said Abloh in a statement. “Its sustainability ambitions align with my own. Together we can push boundaries and explore new areas of revolution, paving a better future for generations globally.”

The appointment is part of a wider sustainability initiative that the French company is pledging to achieve over the next few years, focusing on three main areas: water resource, carbon and plastic. This includes becoming a carbon neutral brand by 2020, and becoming a 100% circular company by 2025 by making all of its plastic bottles from 100% recycled plastics.

“We want to use the power of our global brand to take a leadership position and drive collaboration across the industry,” said Patricia Oliva, VP of marketing at Evian. “We’re committed to move the mindset of today’s generation from ‘we can’ to ‘we do’.”

Abloh’s involvement not only entails helping Evian design future products, but “use his wide-scale platform to engage his audience and raise awareness around the importance of innovation in design and sustainability”.

Aligning with the new approach, the partnership was announced on Instagram, a platform highly popular amongst Abloh’s younger fanbase, with Evian posting a business card using the designer’s now-staple quotation marks. The choice of teaming up with a name in fashion also reflects how the industry is increasingly being seen for its efforts in sustainability, encouraging other lifestyle brands to follow suit.

“Virgil is a creative innovator who has a degree in civil engineering and a CV that includes everything from creative direction to award-winning fashion design,” said Oliva. “Virgil is the embodiment of the next generation’s possibilities.”

The designer’s first project for the water company will be unveiled during fashion month in February and March.

How are you thinking about sustainability? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your strategy. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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business data digital snippets e-commerce film social media Startups sustainability technology

What you missed: Amazon’s big data ambitions and on-demand textiles, Facebook’s VR, a sustainability deep dive

Amazon's Echo Look
Amazon’s Echo Look

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the past fortnight.


TOP STORIES
  • Amazon’s big data fuelled fashion ambitions [TechCrunch]
  • Amazon wins patent for on-demand textile manufacturing [Retail Dive]
  • Facebook launches VR project Facebook Spaces [The Drum]
  • Tech tackles the fitting room [Racked]

BUSINESS
  • LVMH takes control of Christian Dior in $13 billion deal [BoF]
  • Hermès joins trend of accelerating luxury sales growth [Business Insider]
  • Kit and Ace shutters all stores worldwide, except in native Canada [Retail Dive]
  • Retail workers fight to get a cut in the era of e-commerce [Racked]
  • Debenhams unveils its turnaround strategy [The Industry]

SUSTAINABILITY
  • How to cut carbon emissions as e-commerce soars [Bain & Co]
  • Are fashion’s recycling schemes as effective as they seem? [The Fashion Law]
  • Is deadstock the future of sustainable fashion? [Fashionista]
  • The myth of closed-loop manufacturing [Glossy]
  • How much has actually changed 4 years on from the Rana Plaza collapse? [Refinery29]
  • Why is fashion still sleeping on all-natural dyes? [Fashionista]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • How brands are finally cashing in on social with shoppable Instagram Stories and Snapchat ads [AdWeek]
  • Why does the term ‘influencer’ feel so gross? [Man Repeller]
  • Rue21, mode-ai launch virtual stylist with Facebook Messenger group feature [Retail Dive]

MARKETING
  • The state of data strategy in fashion and retail [Glossy]
  • Do podcasts make you wanna shop? [Racked]
  • John Lewis unveils experiential National Treasures summer campaign [The Industry]
  • Mytheresa.com teams with Miu Miu on capsule, fashion film [WWD]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Macy’s and the survival of retailing [Bloomberg]
  • Why retailers are trying on showrooms [Retail Dive]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Amazon builds team for autonomous vehicle technology [AutoNews]
  • Burt’s Nature showcases the Burt of Burt’s Bees in VR [The Drum]
  • Estée Lauder’s augmented reality efforts focus on Europe [L2]

START-UPS
  • Walmart’s tech incubator hires co-founder of Rent the Runway [Bloomberg]