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business Campaigns Podcast Retail sustainability

Katharine Hamnett: Backing a Global Green New Deal

Introducing legislation along the lines of a Global Green New Deal is mandatory for the future of our planet and the existence of the fashion industry within it, says designer and activist Katharine Hamnett on the Innovators podcast. 

“That’s the dream, isn’t it? We reclaim the destroyed lands, we get out of burning fossil fuels and killing the planet, we go to renewables. People find interesting jobs, rewarding jobs… you know, building a better world – it’s exciting for everybody and is the way that we’ve got to go,” she explains. 

A Global Green New Deal suggests investment in key areas such as net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, clean-energy jobs and infrastructure, clean air, water, access to nature and more. It’s not brand new, it’s an evolution on from a United Nations paper in 2009 that focused on helping power a job-rich global economic recovery through decarbonization, and before that a Franklin D Roosevelt term from the 1930s.  

While it’s got a lot of mixed opinions, it supports the idea ultimately that we need a stronger push around climate change legislation, and that the needs are now too big for businesses to do it alone. 

The commercial endeavours of industry full stop mean there just isn’t incentive enough there to do so in a way that results in any tangible change. So we have to make it mandatory, and, as per Hamnett’s thoughts, we have to lobby existing governments to introduce the sort of regulatory methods that will actually lead us somewhere. 

Rachel Arthur, co-founder & chief innovation officer of Current Global, with Katherine Hamnett

Hamnett herself is one of the original fashion activists. Her brand is now celebrating its 40th anniversary, but she is a designer that has become particularly well known for her t-shirts supporting various movements, from helping refugees to indeed, supporting a Global Green New Deal. And she’s now lobbying for it too. 

Join us as we dive into what her view is on the sort of regulations we need in the UK and Europe particularly, what activism today should really look like both for businesses and for us as individuals, and why she doesn’t believe the answer is about reducing how many clothes we all actually buy.

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

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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business Campaigns Editor's pick sustainability

From G7 to fashion weeks – why the industry needs to cut the sustainable chat and take action

One minute we’re talking all about saving the planet, the next, it’s onto the indulgence and excess of fashion weeks. No wonder there’s so much questioning around what the industry is about right now. 

At the G7 Summit last month, François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of luxury group Kering, introduced the Fashion Pact, a deal that saw 32 brands from Adidas to Prada, coming together to commit to stopping global warming, restoring biodiversity and protecting the oceans. 

The initiative was mandated by French President Emmanuel Macron, who asked the industry to set practical objectives for reducing its environmental impact.

Practical is the keyword here. While collaboration between so many different players is in itself great progress, reflections on many of the goals are that they have been light on detail as to how they’re going to be achieved. 

Meanwhile, as has been pointed out by others this past fortnight, fashion week season has kicked off and we’re back into that completely contrasting feeling of celebration and excess once more. “Fashion month is a party,” Orsola de Castro, co-founder and creative director of non-profit Fashion Revolution, told the Business of Fashion. “It’s huge fun, but it’s the kind of fun that is no longer funny.” 

Within that is of course the volume of waste and climate impact generated from the shows themselves, but in addition, the culture of consumerism they continue to feed.  

In London we have Extinction Rebellion protesting against the very existence of fashion week itself, while in New York, the biggest stories have conversely been about the large-scale theatrics of shows from the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty. Let’s not forget, fashion weeks are about marketing – appealing to buyers, press and consumers individually to encourage them to buy and buy-into the new collections in one or other of their relative ways. 

By their very nature, they therefore clash with a more sustainable approach to supply and demand. All of which makes one question how much hot air really surrounds the topic of sustainability – no matter how much it’s “trending” – when looking across the industry at large. 

Back to the G7 pact and the biggest question that sits there then, is how will any of these promises turn into reality? As in, literally what are the methodologies behind them? 

The fact is, what we really need is less talk more doing. To put it into the simplest terms, the contradiction of fashion week doesn’t sit well with the notion of ‘actions speaking louder than words’. But neither do promises that aren’t backed by some tangible outputs to follow. 

The same goes for the sheer volume of broader sustainable pledges being made by the industry. Everywhere you turn you see promises to use 100% renewable energy by 2020, to become carbon neutral by 2022, to reduce water consumption by 2025. The same can be said for chemicals, materials, recycling, waste… the list goes on. 

That’s all well and good, but only if progress towards those things actually happen. On our side, we’re tracking them all, and the list of promises is growing at a substantially faster rate than that of the actions being made in response. This is absolutely key. It means that currently the announcements are serving in the main as PR initiatives – a way of hiding behind something that is several years away, or about buying time while you figure out what to actually do. 

The result is that we either have too many pledges that risk not being met, or those offering too little too late – such as to be carbon neutral by 2050. In Greta Thunberg’s words, this is a climate emergency

Last year, Fast Company reviewed various environmental goals set for 2020 by large corporations as well as countries, questioning which of them were on target to actually be met in time. It reads like a mixed bag, though does demonstrate progress in parts. 

The same can be said for fashion. Kering itself has always been one of the most vocal about its goals, setting them out in 2012, then reporting back on what it had and hadn’t achieved in 2016. It reset its targets in 2017 with a broader 2025 sustainability strategy in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Included in that was cutting the group’s carbon emissions by 50% and reducing its overall environmental impact by at least 40%. Not small aims. An update is expected in 2020. 

H&M is another that’s always gone big. It’s reportedly on target to hit its goals of both using 100% organic or recycled cotton, and eliminating hazardous chemicals in its production, by 2020. Future aims include becoming climate positive by 2040. 

The difficulty with all this is the sliding scale of what attaining such goals mean, not to mention how they’re measured. 

One of the ones I have the biggest issue with in the industry broadly is the idea of moving to entirely “sustainable cotton” by 2025. This isn’t so much in the goal itself by any means, but in the naming of it. What is sustainable cotton? Strictly speaking, most of the time what we’re talking about is rather “better” cotton. As in, it is literally better for the environment than that which is otherwise farmed in the conventional manner. Usually this falls under those certified via the Better Cotton Initiative and others including Organic and Fair Trade. 

This sort of language use is critical because of how misleading it can be to the consumer. It instantly gives the impression that fast fashion, like Zara as well, for instance, will be absolutely fine by 2025 because the materials used will indeed be entirely sustainable. Not true. They’ll just be less bad at that early part of the supply chain. Arguably, that’s not enough. 

The same goes for what is the lesser of two evils when we hear certain companies have managed to achieve zero waste to landfill targets, yet are continuing to incinerate items. Does the ban on incineration in France mean landfill will then be on the up? 

When it comes to greenhouse gases, there was a feeling in a recent meeting I had with some members of UK parliament, that regulation for companies to declare their emissions makes the industry immediately more accountable.

What didn’t seem to be acknowledged is that the fashion industry doesn’t know the true numbers around its emissions. As I’ve written about before, it’s not completely possible right now because there is simply not enough accurate information out there for it to report this – and it doesn’t have direct control of its supply chain in the majority of cases to discover any of it itself further. 

We know this from our work with Google to build a tool that shines a light on the raw materials stage of the supply chain – Tier 4. What’s available right now is at best globalized averages, at worst, completely unknown. The result, therefore, is guesswork. How for instance can H&M become climate positive in a true sense, if it can’t trace back the impact it is actually having? It can’t. You can apply the same to Burberry, to Nike, to whoever else you like.

A few years back there were headlines about 2020 being the “magic year for fashion” based on the industry embracing sustainability. Arguably, even in the midst of fashion week season, that has already happened. But it doesn’t mean anything if it’s just being talked about.  

Change can only take place if these goals become tangible. That’s our entire mantra as a business – drive transformation by enabling action. Enough with the pledges therefore, what we’d rather see is the industry diving deep, staying quiet, building new solutions and starting to show us some results. 

How are you thinking about sustainability? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more.

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business Editor's pick Retail sustainability technology

9 brands pushing sustainable store design

With sustainability an increasing priority on the agenda for fashion and retail businesses around the globe today, attention is also turning to their brick-and-mortar stores – how they’re resourced, designed and constructed. 

According to Schneider Electric, retail buildings are the largest consumers of energy among non-residential buildings in Europe, contributing $20 billion each year. Factors such as electricity, air conditioning and lighting all contribute to a brand’s carbon footprint and emissions. 

The interesting thing is that going green is proven to not only help retailers reduce their impact on the planet, but significantly save them money. A 20% cut in energy costs can represent the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales, according to Carbon Trust. 

Investing in sustainable store design, therefore, has a positive effect on profit, people and the planet. From locally-sourced materials, to energy saving light bulbs, and even the removal of any plastic packaging, there is an incredibly wide range of ways retailers can make their stores more environmentally friendly. 

Here we highlight some of the best examples of brands going above and beyond with their stores in order to do so: 

Stella McCartney
Stella McCartney London flagship store

Last year Stella McCartney opened a new flagship store in London that expands four floors and embodies sustainability throughout. The outposts of the store are lined with recycled foam and card that were made from waste paper from the London offices. The space is also the first to use biodegradable mannequins,  made from 72% sugarcane bioplastic, which significantly reduces CO2 emissions. To help combat air pollution, the store has a hidden ventilation systems that removes 95% of air pollutants and harmful gases, such as nitrogen dioxide. At launch, Stella herself said: “The store really tells the story of the world of Stella McCartney, seamlessly incorporating sustainability, fashion and luxury.”

Ikea
Inside Ikea’s Greenwich Store

Ikea opened a sustainable store in London’s Greenwich, built from a range of renewable materials in 2019. The roof is covered with 75% solar panels, which power the store, and rainwater is harvested to help reduce the store’s water consumption by 50%. The store not only helps the environment, but is also working towards improving the community around it. Ikea holds an array of classes such as bunting making, which utilizes off-cuts of IKEA fabric, helping spread the message of full utilization. The design of the store has been awarded an ‘Outstanding’ BREEAM certification, which is the highest award for sustainable construction, covering areas such as energy, land use and materials. Efforts to incorporate geothermal heating, 100% LED lighting and textile recycling, have also elevated it to become the most sustainable retail store in the UK.

Patagonia
Patagonia Store in Victoria, Canada

Patagonia is not only leading the way with sustainability in manufacturing, but is going above and beyond with its store design strategy. Each outpost is uniquely designed to reflect the history and culture of its location, while simultaneously keeping the planet in mind. The Victoria store in Canada, which opened several years ago now, for instance, had three main goals when it was being designed: to use sustainable construction methods, utilize reclaimed materials and become the best retail space for outdoor activities in the area. It features a range of wooden details throughout, from wall decorations to shelving units, giving it a grounded earthy feel. The wood was wastage retrieved from the Pacific Ocean and leftover material from the local yacht club.

Country Road
Country Road store in Melbourne

Australian fashion retailer Country Road opened its flagship store in Melbourne this summer also with sustainability in mind. The space is made from recycled materials such as yoghurt containers, fishing nets and recycled paper. It is the first to receive a 5-star Green Design review from the Green Building Council of Australia. It also includes details like fitting room hooks that have been made using ocean plastic and tables from recycled plastic. The brand hopes this store design will be the first of many, as it continues to expand in the country.

Starbucks
Starbucks sustainable store design

Starbucks is leading the way in the coffee sphere by building LEED-certified stores, which stands for ‘leadership in energy and environmental design’. These green stores use LED lighting, recycled flooring tiles and wood products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship council. They are 25% more energy efficient and 30% more water efficient. In countries with solar and wind projects, the stores are run on   100% renewable energy. Starbucks already has 1,612 LEED-certified stores, but is intending to extend the framework to 10,000 by 2025, which could save $50m in utility costs over the next 10 years alongside reducing impact on the planet.

Bottletop
Bottletop’s London store

Sustainable accessories brand, Bottletop, opened the world’s first 3D printed store, created by robots using upcycled plastic, in London. Based on Regent Street, it is zero waste and home to the brand’s sustainable handcrafted collection of leather goods. The space embodies the company’s core mission to empower people through sustainable design and creative culture. The flooring of the store is made from reworked rubber tyres and the interior is made from 60,000 upcycled plastic bottles. Overall, the store aims to re-imagine the future of ecologically responsible construction through zero waste design.

Ganni
Ganni store

Danish fashion brand Ganni recently opened its new London store following a number of doors in Copenhagen and Stockholm. While it features bubblegum pink walls fit for every Instagrammer’s dream, it is also underpinned with a green strategy in mind. The store incorporates  sustainable features such as recycled plastic displays made from old plastic bottles, plant pots, food packaging and coffee grounds. Decorations throughout are either vintage pieces or upcycled products, including rugs that have been remade from old Ganni collections. The company also uses renewable energy across all of its stores, with the aim to have 100% green sources by the end of 2019. 

Lush
Lush’s plastic free products

As one of the sustainability leaders in beauty, Lush recently stepped up its game by stripping back several of its stores in Berlin, Milan and Manchester, in a bid to go entirely plastic free. The ‘Naked’ stores, as they’re called, are part of the brand’s initiative to tackle the plastic waste problem in the cosmetic industry. They all feature products like the brand’s solid shampoos, which don’t necessitate any packaging. Each of them further serve as an open space for NGOs and activist groups to educate and increase consumer awareness on the topics of zero waste and ocean plastics.

Reformation
Reformation store

Cult fashion brand Reformation puts sustainability at the core of everything it does, from local manufacturing and sustainable dyeing to green buildings and fabrics. Its Los Angeles stores and headquarters are all Green Business certified, meaning they implement strategies to save energy, improve water efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. Reformation offsets its store build by 100%, by calculating the construction footprint. The materials in store are also sustainable with LED fixtures,  recycled fabric insulations and natural rammed earth materials.

How are you thinking about sustainable innovations? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Each of the rules referenced above is matched by one of our products and services. Interested in how? Get in touch to learn more.

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sustainability

Sustainability is luxury’s duty, says Kering

Laurent Claquin, Kering
Laurent Claquin, Kering

“Everyone is convinced that sustainability is a necessity and not an option, but for the luxury industry it’s actually a duty,” said Laurent Claquin, head of Kering Americas.

Speaking at the Remode conference in Los Angeles last week, he said that sustainability is steadily becoming a mark of quality, thus something every brand needs to do anyway, but there still remains a gap in luxury moving in this direction.

“The luxury sector has an obligation to lead the way, because in many ways the rest of the industry is looking to them,” added Eva Kruse, president and CEO of the Global Fashion Agenda, which is focused on sustainability. “We think the luxury sector is where sustainability would thrive the most just because of the sheer margins that it can sell its items for in terms of the price. But still, we haven’t seen a lot of companies really spearheading it.”

Kering is arguably out front having made a series of commitments to a more sustainable future, including targets for 2025 that are guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the launch of an open source Environmental Profit & Loss calculator, which enables businesses to attach a momentary value to their planetary impact.

The latter helps build the business case for sustainability, which Claquin referred to as an opportunity based around doing things responsibly. “When you do it in a sustainable way, you not only decrease negative impact, but you can create positive impact,” he explained.

Using the calculator has enabled Kering to see that 80% of its impact is actually outside its operation, due to being based largely on the extraction and process of raw materials. Creating a more sustainable supply chain therefore, has meant going to the source to work directly with suppliers and partners. Innovation is a big part of making this happen, Claquin explained.

“We’re not perfect, it’s step by step and we’re at the beginning of a long journey,” he added.

Kering recently introduced an organic cotton that is 100% scientifically traceable, thanks to a new supply chain transparency innovation.

How are you thinking about sustainable innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. 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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Editor's pick sustainability

Gucci launches online platform to promote sustainable purpose

Gucci launches Gucci Equilibrium

Gucci has launched Gucci Equilibrium, an online communications platform designed to connect “people, planet and purpose” and to bring positive change in order to secure our collective future.

The aim is to promote the label’s commitment to sustainability and transparency both to its customers as well as internally to its 13,000 employees, its suppliers and the wider Gucci family. Focusing on purpose, the site explains, is about demonstrating integrity.

“These are critical times when we can all play our part in helping to deliver on the UN Global Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement,” Gucci CEO Marco Bizarri told WWD. “The only way to do that is by bringing people together, sharing ideas, innovation and experiences. This is the objective we have set for Gucci Equilibrium.”

The name reportedly comes from a balance between the aesthetic of what the brand produces, with the ethics in which it believes. The launch is accordingly part of a 10-year sustainability plan announced by the brand, which will be anchored in three pillars: environment, people and innovation.

“Environment” sees Gucci setting the target to guarantee the traceability of 95% of its raw materials, as well as the recent announcement it is banning furs; “People” includes a series of empowerment and diversity campaigns and social initiatives; and “Innovation” focuses on scouting and incubating startups, an approach also seen with the launch of its ArtLab space.

Visiting the platform allows the user to learn more about each specific initiative Gucci is embarking on under each pillar. In doing so, the brand is providing a content platform not only to celebrate and promote its achievements, but ensure it is held accountable for its actions in-keeping with its newly announced purpose.

Gucci has also announced a company-wide program alongside encouraging staff to dedicate 1% of their working time to volunteering in local communities.

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business digital snippets film product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Rethinking returns policies, beauty’s AI future, Gucci on gun control

AI impacting beauty
AI impacting beauty

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • Why fashion retailers are rethinking their returns policies [Glossy]
  • How artificial intelligence is changing the future of beauty [HuffingtonPost]
  • Why Gucci decided to support gun control [BoF]
  • How Everlane is building the next-gen clothing brand [FastCompany]
  • Cracking luxury’s customization challenge [BoF]
TECHNOLOGY
  • 10 breakthrough technologies 2018 [MIT Technology Review]
  • How Google Zoo is thinking about machine learning [TCDaily]
  • Diamond industry turns to AR to attract wedding-wary millennials [Glossy]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Is this the year that fashion will pay attention to the planet? [ThePool]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Target CEO: Online shopping alone won’t cut it, retailers also need great stores [CNBC]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Maybelline asks followers whether it should quit Snapchat [AdAge]
  • Chanel unveils Instagram feed for beauty devotees, plans for another beauty pop-up in West Hollywood [LA Times]
  • First short film produced by Giorgio Armani unveiled during MFW [WWD]
  • Why paid memberships are the new loyalty [BoF]
  • Automat creates online hive for beauty sector chatbots [RetailDive]
  • Fashion company loses social media followers over same-sex ads [BBC]
PRODUCT
  • This company is using AI to make personalized skincare [FastCompany]
BUSINESS
  • UK fashion industry to take hardest Brexit hit [BoF]
  • Topshop boss Sir Philip Green ‘is in talks to sell his High Street empire to Chinese textiles giant’ [DailyMail]
  • Charlotte Olympia files for bankruptcy [Fashionista]
  • Tod’s turns to ‘Factory’ project to keep pace with fast-moving fashion market [BoF]
  • LVMH and Kering launch website for model welfare [FashionNetwork]
Categories
sustainability

New Patagonia microsite connects hyper local activists

Patagonia Action Works
Patagonia Action Works

As part of its continued focus on the environment, Patagonia has launched Patagonia Action Works, a microsite intended to facilitate interactions between like-minded activists.

In a video announcing the initiative, Yvon Chouinard, the company’s founder, compared the venture to a dating site, for the way in which it links customers with worthy organizations and events.

Users can select their location and the causes they care about, including biodiversity, climate, communities, land and water. The website then generates a list of relevant organizations divided by grantees that have received support from the brand, related events nearby and skilled-volunteering and petition opportunities. The platform also enables organizations themselves to apply for grants.

Patagonia Action Works
Patagonia Action Works

Adding to the sense of urgency to take charge of the planet, which is at the core of Patagonia’s communication strategy, Chouinard explains: “If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that things aren’t going very well for the planet. It’s pretty easy to get depressed about it.”

He adds a call to action: “I’ve always known the cure for depression is action. Patagonia’s reason for existence is to force government and corporations to take action in solving our environmental problems.”

Patagonia Action Works is part of the company’s 1% for the Planet program, which has donated almost $90 million to grassroots organizations over the past 35 years. To activate the launch, the company is hosting a series of events, including a panel discussion in Santa Monica, California on Friday, February 8.