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business e-commerce Editor's pick product Retail social media sustainability technology

Analytics reshaping fashion, the lucrative world of sneaker resells, Snapchat’s return

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

TOP STORIES
  • Analytics are reshaping fashion’s old-school instincts (Vogue Business)
  • Inside the wild, shockingly lucrative world of sneaker reselling (GQ)
  • Snapchat is back in fashion (BoF)
  • Dr Martens’ profits up 70% with success of new ‘vegan’ range (The Guardian)
TECHNOLOGY
  • Facebook latest tech giant to admit to using human review of user audio conversations (Campaign)
  • What Deepfakes actually are (Gizmodo)
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Stand out brands in The RealReal’s annual resale report (Fashion Law)
  • How Econyl became fashion’s favorite eco-friendly material (Vogue Business)
  • Microplastics are airborne, polluted artic snow reveals (Earther)
  • There’s never been a better time to buy used clothes (Quartzy)
  • Luxury goes back home: Giants strengthen their sourcing proximity (MDS)
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Nike launches subscription service that targets kids (AdWeek)
  • Online retailers are transforming warehouse construction (Construction Drive)
  • As customers begin to shop through voice assistants, what can brands do to stand out? (Harvard Business Review)
BUSINESS
  • Markets tumble in light of trade wars and poor retail results (BoF)
  • Alibaba results beat estimates on cloud, e-commerce growth (Reuters)
  • Steve Madden acquires DTC sneaker brand Greats (Glossy)
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Instagram now allows users to create their own AR filters (Hypebeast)
  • Youtube’s AR beauty try-on goes live (Forbes)
  • Luxury brands use video games to speak to China’s Millennials (Jing Daily)
PRODUCT
  • The Farm Bill’s effect on CBD beauty (Glossy)
  • Stuart Weitzman releases limited edition customizable sneakers (Marie Claire)
  • Volcom launches ‘water aware’ denim collection (Fashion United)
CULTURE
  • Nike got called out for discriminating against pregnant athletes. Now it’s changing its policy (Fast Company)

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Categories
product sustainability

Will sustainable fashion crack China’s luxury market in 2018?

sustainable fashion china - tortoise & lady grey
Photo courtesy: tortoise & lady grey

Sustainable fashion became something of a mantra in the luxury fashion world this year. With Gucci announcing its fur-free plan for 2018, fashion brands in Mainland China and Hong Kong are also setting up their own sustainable fashion initiatives, but do Chinese consumers care?


Reclothing Bank (?????)

Zhang Na (??), an advocate for sustainable fashion in China, is the founder of Reclothing Bank. She began her fashion career after moving to Shanghai in 2004 and founded her first fashion brand, Fake Natoo, in 2008. Two years later, she created another new brand called “Reclothing Bank,” embarking on a journey into the sustainable fashion world.

Similar to the Los Angeles-based fashion brand Reformation, Reclothing Bank is a lifestyle brand that considers sustainability across the supply chain. What makes it different, however, is that Reclothing outfits are made from second-hand clothes.

“Our sales figures were poor at first because Chinese people generally don’t want used clothes,” Zhang said in an interview with Business of Fashion (Chinese version). Therefore, she had to reconsider the marketing strategy, redesign the used clothes, and describe them instead as “sustainable fashion (????????),” she said.

During Shanghai Fashion Week in October, Reclothing Bank debuted its 2017 collection, General Rejoicing (??). Reclothing Bank’s mission goes beyond “just recycling second-hand clothes”, Zhang said. “I would like to take this opportunity to remind people to stand in awe to nature.”


BYT

Another trailblazer in the sustainable fashion industry is the Hong Kong-based BYT, which uses leftover fabrics from luxury brands to create beautiful, trendy outfits. BYT made its debut at the EcoChic Design Award competition in Hong Kong in September.

BYT is co-founded by Christina Dean and Michelle Bang, who are both advocates for waste reduction in the fashion world, having worked at the NGO Redress.

According to the Redress website: “BYT has ambitious plans for its sustainability pillars – including up-cycling fashion’s excess, working with those disenfranchised in the industry and with Asia’s top sustainable manufacturing facilities, so that collectively, BYT’s collections are using the most innovative and sustainable processes available with their trusted partners.”

While there is plenty of supply side enthusiasm for more sustainable fashion, there’s still some resistance to it becoming a big trend in China in 2018.


The second-hand stigma

The clothing industry is the second-largest polluter in the world after oil. On one hand, traditional textile production requires massive quantities of water, which are contaminated with wastes harmful to the soil when they are discharged. Given the imminent threat of climate change, it’s imperative that brands do better.

On the other hand, sustainable fashion costs more. A Reclothing Bank’s woman outfit price usually ranges between ¥1360 ($205) and ¥5960 ($900), while the average BYT outfit costs around 2,000 HKD ($255), neither of which is cheap.

Although brands such as Reclothing Bank and BYT are promoting sustainable fashion in China already, the full value of well-made, sustainable clothes is still a little abstract for most consumers. Why pay the same amount of money for a leftover, second-hand item when they could buy something brand-new for less?

There is a stigma against second-hand and upcycled items that is itself handed down from the previous generation, which endured decades of poverty.

Nonetheless, wearing sustainable fashion represents a new way of thinking — pursuing something simpler and more beneficial to everyone, not just the wearer, in the long run. As governments and global consumers demand more sustainable practices from industry, brands will need to convince Chinese consumers that it’s worth paying a little more for sustainable fashion. Luxury brands, with their greater attention to making quality, lasting clothes, are in a strong position to lead the charge.

By Huixin Deng

This article was originally published on Jing Daily, a Fashion & Mash content partner.

Categories
data Editor's pick

This skincare tool shares local air pollution data in real-time

Dermalogica and BreezoMeter's Skin Pollution tool
Dermalogica and BreezoMeter’s Skin Pollution tool

How’s this for failed New Year’s resolutions: London hit its annual air pollution limits just five days into 2017.

This past week, the mayor, Sadiq Khan (who has vowed to improve the city’s worsening air quality), once again issued a public health warning with alerts put out at bus stops, tube stations and roadsides due to toxic high levels.

There are numerous tools out there today to enable the population to keep track of this in real-time; to see local air pollution around them and make health-related decisions accordingly. One such example is BreezoMeter, a global air quality data company, which has recently teamed up with skincare brand Dermalogica to help track its impact on skin.

Now, if pollution is at an all-time high, we might be thinking more about our lungs or heart than we are our skin, of course, but the absorbent nature of our skin (as our largest organ) makes it incredibly susceptible to the damaging effects of toxic air.

For every particle of pollution you see, there are one million invisible particles that can enter our pores, the team explains. Furthermore, just a few hours of smog exposure can reduce natural antioxidant Vitamin E in skin by 25%. Air pollution from traffic and soot can also increase pigmentation spots by 20%.

The partnership between BreezoMeter and Dermalogica sees the launch of a website at www.skinpollution.com that enables consumers worldwide to become more aware of the pollutants around them in real-time. Head over to Forbes to read all about it, including shared insights from the heads of marketing at both companies.

Categories
business Editor's pick sustainability

10 scary truths about fast fashion’s impact on the environment

sustainability fast fashion environment mckinsey
Annual clothing production exceeded 100 billion for the first time in 2014

McKinsey & Company has released a new report outlining how important it is for companies in the fast fashion space to look to reduce social and environmental costs.

At the heart of the report is this simple line: “The fact remains that innovation in the way clothes are made has not kept pace with the acceleration of how they are designed and marketed.”

Thanks to falling costs, streamlined operations, and rising consumer spending, clothing production and consumption has soared since the turn of the millennium. The downside of that, of course, is the impact it has had on the planet accordingly. “Without improvements in how clothing is made, these issues will grow proportionally as more clothes are produced,” the authors ascertain.

Here are 10 facts they highlight before outlining a list of recommendations for steps companies need to take to start countering their increasing impact…


  • Annual clothing production exceeded 100 billion for the first time in 2014; resulting in nearly 14 items for every person on earth

  • Production has doubled from 2000 to 2014, with the number of garments purchased each year by the average consumer increasing by 60% over the same period

  • Making 1 kilogram of fabric generates an average of 23 kilograms of greenhouse gases.

  • Washing and drying 1 kilogram of clothing over its entire life cycle, using typical methods, creates 11 kilograms of greenhouse gases.

  • Across nearly every apparel category, consumers keep clothing items about half as long as they did 15 years ago

  • Some estimates suggest consumers treat the lowest-priced garments as nearly disposable, discarding them after just seven or eight wears

  • Zara offers 24 new clothing collections each year; H&M offers 12 to 16 and refreshes them weekly. Among all European apparel companies, the average number of clothing collections has more than doubled, from two a year in 2000, to about five a year in 2011

  • Nearly three-fifths of all clothing produced ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being made. Germany outperforms most countries by collecting almost three-quarters of all used clothing, reusing half and recycling one-quarter. Elsewhere, collection rates are far lower: 15% in the United States, 12% in Japan, and 10% in China.

  • While sales growth has been robust around the world, emerging economies have seen especially large rises in clothing sales, as more people in them have joined the middle class. In five large developing countries – Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Russia – apparel sales grew eight times faster than in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States

  • If 80% of the population of emerging economies were to achieve the same clothing-consumption levels as the Western world by 2025, and the apparel industry does not become more environmentally efficient, then the environmental footprint of the apparel industry will become significantly larger across carbon emissions, water and land use (as per the below graph)

mckinsey sustainability


McKinsey notes the fact 22 apparel brands belong to a coalition called Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals to improve and expand the use of nontoxic, sustainable chemistry in the textile and footwear supply chain. There’s also the Better Cotton Initiative, which involves more than 50 retailers and brands and nearly 700 suppliers in setting standards for environmental, social, and economic responsibility in cotton production. It goes on to further recommend several additional steps companies can, and indeed need, to take to start countering the impact fast fashion has:


  • Develop standards and practices for designing garments that can be easily reused or recycled. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition has created an index for measuring the full life-cycle impact of clothing and footwear products.

  • Invest in the development of new fibres that will lower the environmental effects of production and garment making. In 2016, the Walmart Foundation awarded grants of nearly $3 million to five US universities to support research on improving the sustainability and efficiency of textile manufacturing.

  • Encourage consumers to care for their clothes in low-impact ways. Washing garments in hot or warm water and drying at high heat or for longer than needed uses a lot of energy. Clothing makers and retailers can help steer consumers toward clothing-care practices that have a smaller environmental toll and keep garments in good shape for longer.

  • Support the development of mechanical- and chemical-recycling technologies. The fibres produced by mechanical recycling, for example, are shorter and lower in quality than virgin fibres and therefore less useful to apparel makers. Chemical recycling could improve on this as the technology advances.

  • Establish higher labour and environmental standards for suppliers and set up mechanisms to make supply chains more transparent. For example, the software company EVRYTHNG and packaging maker Avery Dennison have together launched an effort to tag clothing so consumers can trace how individual items were produced all along the supply chain.

  • Provide suppliers with guidance and resources for meeting new labour and environmental standards and hold them accountable for performance shortfalls. Walmart, for example, has made a public commitment that by 2017, 70% or more of the products it sources directly from suppliers will come from factories with energy-management plans. The company offers its suppliers software tools to help them find opportunities for using energy and other resources more efficiently.

You can read the full report via McKinsey.com.