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Moncler sustainability goals, Burberry uses gaming technology, Allbirds launches apparel

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

TOP STORIES
  • Luxury’s coronavirus recovery: Who’s ahead and who’s behind (BoF)
  • Fashion’s pivot to e-commerce and the future (WWD)
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Sustainability, transparency are “do or die” for fashion (WWD)
  • Moncler close to carbon neutral goal (Vogue Business)
  • Ace and Tate launches recycled programme on Depop (Fashion United)
  • UGG unveils long-term sustainability commitments (Fashion United)
RETAIL & COMMERCE
  • How to tap into the world’s largest online shopping festival (BoF)
  • Whatsapp introduces in-app purchases (TheIndustry.Fashion)
  • Burberry is using gaming technology to streamline design process (Fashion United)
  • Designing the store of the future (WWD)
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Live stream shopping, social selling help evolve retail industry (WWD)
  • New ways of marketing luxury in China (Jing Daily)
  • Affordable beauty brands are finding fame on TikTok. What’s next? (Vogue Business)
  • Selling fashion on instagram: expectation vs reality (BoF)
PRODUCT
  • Allbirds launches apparel with sustainable essentials collection (WWD)
  • Fashion makes people with disabilities feel invisible. This designer wants them to stand out (Fast Company)

BUSINESS

  • How Kohl’s intends to “reignite” its women’s business (WWD)
  • ThredUp confidentially files for IPO (Reuters)
  • Bulgari focuses on local customers as Covid wipes out tourism (Bloomberg)
  • Global crisis is not stopping Stone Island’s expansion (WWD)
  • Ferregamo family explore selling minority stake of business (Reuters)
  • Adidas reportedly mulling sale of Reebok (Fashion United)

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business digital snippets e-commerce Retail social media Startups sustainability technology

COVID-19: Stores plan for reopening, Fashion goes virtual, Brands support in relief efforts

wealthy-americans-coronavirus-e1583184976710

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

TOP STORIES
  • Macy’s to reopen dozens of stores, sets timeline for full return (Bloomberg)
  • A peek into the new mindset of fashion post-lockdown  (Forbes)
  • How the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing brands to connect digitally (Retail Dive)
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • VeChain Partners with Fashion Brand H&M to Use Blockchain for Supply Chain Traceability (Bitcoin Exchange Guide)
  • Mango launches first capsule collection based on recycled fibers (TheIndustry Fashion)
  • Fashion needs “Creative Resilience” to come out on the other side of COVID-19 (Sourcing Journal)
  • Can sustainable fashion and inclusive sizing coexist? (Harper’s Bazaar)
RETAIL & COMMERCE
  • Tmall announces its online outlet, Luxury Soho (Jing Daily)
  • Zalora says it is a “data first, then fashion” company (The Drum)
  • Will digital showrooms save fashion’s wholesale brands? (Fashion United)
  • Sandy Liang is hosting a virtual pop-up on Animal Crossing (High Snobiety)
  • What will stores look like when they reopen? (BoF)
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Michael Kors gets digitally creative with “My Way” China Capsule (WWD)
  • How luxury is reaching customers during lockdown (Jing Daily)
  • NBCUniversal boosts shoppable content efforts with new Checkout platform (eMarketer)
  • Marketing to Gen Z during COVID-19 (Vogue Business)
PRODUCT
  • After Clarisonic, Mr Robb is at it again (WWD)
  • Sustainable sneaker brand Allbirds debuts its first running shoe (Evening Standard)
  • Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton and more French brands to support healthcare workers with one-off auction (Harper’s Bazaar)
  • Yuima Nakazato Offers Made-to-Order Garments Virtually (WWD)
BUSINESS
  • Covid-19 is set to unleash a wave of corporate mergers and acquisitions (Quartz)
  • Biggest mall operator in the US plans to reopen 49 of them (NYT)
  • Thinking positive: fashions coronavirus relief efforts (Drapers)
  • Luxury firms find signs of hope in Asia (Vogue Business)
  • Diesel North America taps Patrick Valeo as CEO (WWD)
  • Suppliers are feeling retail’s pain, too (Retail Dive)
CULTURE
  • Their Met Gala, their way. You’re invited.  (NYT)
  • Skin-care flextarians: a new wave of beauty enthusiasts (WWD)
  • Live experiences need brands now more than ever (AdWeek)
  • How luxury fashion shopping habits are shifting in a time of pandemic (Fashionista)

 

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business e-commerce Retail sustainability technology

From holograms to responsible packaging: 10 must-read retail innovation lists

This year has seen continued breakthroughs in retail innovation, with brands exploring new ways to interact with consumers, whether that’s through the physical store, virtual spaces, or new touchpoints like vending machines. 

2019 has also been an impressive year for sustainable innovations, with everything from creative store design and technological transparency, to responsible packaging solutions and the rise of rentals.

Here, we reflect on 10 of our must-read retail innovation articles from the year.

8 brands deploying vending machines as smart retail solutions
Mulberry x Current Global Vending Machine

Artificial intelligence, social media buzz and customer acquisition tools are just a few of the strategies behind vending machines being used as a key part of today’s retail experience. In this story we explore how the technology has been applied to brands including Mulberry and Adidas.

4 technologies aiding in-store navigation
Gatwick’s in-app navigation

Big box retailers including Walmart’s Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Target are using a variety of interesting wayfinding technologies to improve customer navigation inside the physical store. This piece dives into the role of innovation for more efficient customer journeys.

5 brands pushing conversions through virtual storefronts
Lego’s AR-activated experience

Brands including Macy’s and Lego are using virtual experiences in physical locations to provide shoppers with the benefit of an interactive in-person experience without needing to carry inventory. Here, we look at how these “invisible” or augmented reality storefronts are driving sales, collecting data and boosting branding efforts.

7 ways fashion brands are harnessing hologram technology
Alexander McQueen’s hologram show

The fashion industry has been experimenting with holograms for some time, using them as both elaborate marketing techniques, as well as more immersive in-store opportunities aiming to drive brand engagement. In this piece, we take a look back at some of the best use cases from the likes of Alexander McQueen and Ralph Lauren.

9 brands pushing sustainable store design
Ganni’s sustainably designed store

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. Here we explore how the likes of Stella McCartney through to Ikea are approaching it.

4 innovative retail fulfilment methods to know
Ford’s delivery robot

With the on-demand economy continuing to fuel consumer desire for instant gratification, innovation in delivery continues to rise, from crowdsourcing to the latest in robotics. Explore how tech solutions are shaping efficiency in the last mile, here.

7 brands regaining consumer trust through transparency
‘I made you clothes’ campaign

Enabling transparency is a key focus for fashion businesses today, but with rising concerns of greenwashing – from misleading PR-led campaigns to the increase of fake news – consumer trust is at an all-time low. As a result, brands are having to work harder than ever to prove their authenticity in the matter.

5 brands using gamification to drive shopping
Nike’s React Land game

Brands and retailers are jumping on the growth of the gaming market and increasingly using ‘play’ mechanics as a way to encourage shopping. Here we dive into why gamification is estimated to be a $40bn market by 2024 and explore those making the most of it already.

4 effective ways brands are tapping into the rental market
Ba&sh’s NY store

The rental market boom is sending a clear signal to brands struggling to survive in the current retail climate: it is time to adapt to changing purchase behaviors, or risk losing market share. In this piece we look at the varying benefits of stepping into this space, from sustainability to data capturing.

8 brands turning to responsible packaging solutions
Toad&Co partnered with LimeLoop

The rapid rise of the e-commerce era has seen an equally colossal increase in plastic packaging used by brands around the world, something those at the forefront of sustainability are now looking to change. Check out some of the best alternatives introduced by the likes of PVH to MatchesFashion.com.

How are you thinking about innovation? 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

The greater need for transparency: 7 brands regaining consumer trust

Sustainability has been a major talking point for the fashion industry over the past couple of years. In this year’s State of Fashion report, radical transparency was highlighted as one of the major trends retailers should be implementing. But following rising concerns of greenwashing, from misleading PR-led campaigns to the increase of fake news, consumer trust is at an all-time low and brands are having to work harder to prove their authenticity in the matter.

The Gen Z generation is particularly pushing for this change, with 90% believing companies should take responsibility to address environmental and social issues. Meanwhile almost three-quarters of Millennials are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products, demonstrating how there is tangible value in transparent produce. In order to regain their consumers’ trust, brands must therefore be explicitly open with information regarding data protection and how sustainable their supply chains truly are.

Technology is playing a major role in helping promote transparency, from blockchain helping shed light on the supply chain, to holistic e-commerce interactions. Here, we highlight some of our favorite examples of brands disrupting the space by going that extra mile in regards to transparency:

Patagonia
Patagonia: The Footprint Chronicles

Patagonia is one of the pioneering brands when it comes to sustainability, fully disclosing its textile mills, factories and farms through its website. The ‘footprint chronicles’ is a visual map showing information about the supply chain including the numbers of workers, gender mix and items produced there. Patagonia was the first outdoor brand to be certified to the Advanced Global Traceable Down Standard for maintaining excellent animal welfare standards for birds. 

As a result of its ongoing efforts, Patagonia was identified as one of the leading brands on Fashion Revolution’s most recent Transparency Index, receiving a score of 64%. 

Nestle
Nestle trialing blockchain

Nestle is the first major food and beverage company to utilize the use of blockchain technology, allowing consumers to trace the origin of their food. The company is aiming to eventually reach full supply chain transparency, with this move shedding light on 95% of its annual sourcing of raw materials. 

Products will have a QR barcode that when scanned, provides consumers with Tier 1 information on product, such as harvest date, farm location, packing date, as well as information on how to prepare it. To determine the feasibility and viability of the technology, an initial pilot scheme testing the traceability of milk will be created first, with plans to expand into palm oil production.

Walmart
Walmart beef supply chain

As it stands, only 33% of consumers trust the food system. Following the Tesco horsemeat scandal in 2013, consumers have become increasingly skeptical of where their food has come from, particularly when it comes to meat produce. In the US, Walmart is addressing this by developing the first beef supply chain. The system, which took 2 years to develop, follows a previous blockchain pilot on lettuce and spinach, which aimed to reduce contamination rates, following an increase in vegetable-related illnesses.

H&M
H&M product transparency

In the UK, retailers are only required to disclose where the garment was made, but this year to increase its transparency, H&M made the decision to go one step further by sharing specific details about their individual suppliers. Consumers can now access information on the production country, supplier name, factory name, and even the number of employees in that factory. H&M is setting the bar in the industry by allowing consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing, helping them to shop responsibly. 

For H&M’s sister brand Arket, sustainability has been a primary consideration from its inception. Beyond showcasing suppliers, the brand also aims to design long-lasting garments, while informing its customers on how to care for them and prolong their lifespan.

Volition
Volition’s clean products

Volition is democratizing the beauty industry with products designed from crowdsourced ideas that are voted by the general public before making it into production. The brand uses scientific ingredients to deliver safe and effective products, from skincare to bath and body. Volition gives all of its products the ‘safe science’ seal of approval, catering to the 42% of consumers who feel they do not get enough information on ingredient safety. 

Following consumers request of non-toxic but highly effective products, Volition’s experts created a blacklist of harmful ingredients, giving consumers peace of mind about what they are putting onto their skin.

Selfridges
Selfridges Buy Better Campaign

Department store Selfridges is doubling down on its Buying Better labels, which aim to aid consumers in their purchasing choices.  The labels highlight sustainable product attributes, such as vegan, forest-friendly or supporting communities. The labels are part of the retailer’s commitment to ensure that 50% of its products are better for people and the planet by 2022. Currently, over 3000 products across homeware, fashion and beauty feature the labels, helping guide consumers away from the disposable, fast fashion mindset.

Drunk Elephant
Drunk Elephants holistic products

Skincare brand Drunk Elephant may be new to the market, having launched in 2014, but it is already catching both the eye of consumers and major beauty conglomerates alike. Consumers have gone wild for its transparent, no-nonsense approach to skincare. The products are based on biocompatibility, and use clinically-effective natural ingredients. Each product listed on its website has a detailed breakdown of all the ingredients and their purposes, creating a holistic user-friendly experience. 72% of consumers want brands to explain the purpose of ingredients and Drunk Elephant is leading the with their holistic product breakdowns. 

As a result of this education-led approach, and its popularity with younger consumers, the brand has recently been acquired by Japanese giant Shiseido for $845million.

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 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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Comment data e-commerce Editor's pick sustainability

Sustainable fashion: the rising need for quantifiable standardization

Search Google for the meaning of “sustainable fashion” and you’ll quickly discover there’s no standard for it in a qualified way, let alone a quantifiable one. 

Some of the definitions are so sweeping they could in fact refer to nearly anything loosely associated. The Victoria & Albert Museum’s version in London, referring to it as “ethical fashion”, reads: “An umbrella term to describe ethical fashion design, production, retail, and purchasing. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare.” 

Does that mean as a brand you have to do all of them? Or does considering just one or two count? Arguably even then these groupings only touch the surface. 

And therein lies the problem. While the industry is wrapping its head around more sustainable practices against each of those different factors, there’s no agreed-upon guideline as to what each of them are, let alone how they should be accurately measured. 

At a time when consumer awareness is only increasing and the need for education is so high, having a different understanding of what sustainable actually means, is potentially a risky game to play. 

Take the new Net Sustain strategy from luxury e-commerce player, Net-a-Porter, released two weeks ago, for instance. This includes a list of brands it now refers to as “sustainable” as per key criteria identified with an agency that include locally made, craft & community, considered materials, considered processes and reducing waste. 

To qualify, items only have to hit one of these five areas, which means, for now, something that is made from organic cotton for instance, is classified the same as something where over 50% of it has been made in its own country or community. 

Farfetch meanwhile announced its Conscious Edit in April as part of its Positively Farfetch strategy. This comes via a partnership with ethical rating system Good On You, which tracks products in terms of impact to society, the environment and animals. As with Net-a-Porter, Farfetch has identified the need for “rigorous, independently-assessed criteria”, in which brands need to score a minimum of four out of five in one area to qualify. 

Another UK-based e-commerce entity, this time at the fast fashion end of the spectrum, is ASOS. It too has a new “Responsible Edit”, which appears as both a page on its site and a filter that can be used when browsing. It reportedly includes garments made from recycled materials and sustainable fibers, such as those using less water and resulting in less waste.

So that’s three major players all now actively thinking about sustainable fashion in a qualified manner and communicating such to consumers, but all in slightly different ways and to varying degrees. 

The actual means by which measurement is carried out is seemingly different for each too. Net-a-Porter is auditing all of the brands themselves with the agency they’ve brought on – interviewing the key players involved to determine whether what they “say” is true, is actually the case. One of the biggest challenges in this space is proving there’s authenticity in what is being shared – and not just because of falsified information, but often because the brands involved think they’re more sustainable than they really are. A rigorous approach to selection and curation is therefore essential. 

It’s for that reason Net-a-Porter has only put forward 26 brands right now of the 800 it sells. The plus side is that it’s doing that curation on a product-by-product level, not just at the brand level. There can of course be a big difference in sustainability from one piece in the collection to the next, which must also be taken into consideration. 

Yet that also makes this a huge undertaking for the business. An enormous amount of resource needs to be involved, making the likelihood of scalability another challenge. 

ASOS by comparison has over 3,700 products included in its Responsible Edit, and says it’s going to be adding new products daily. Though this isn’t clarified, presumably those are not each independently verified – again for reasons of resource versus scale. 

Again, this is an indication that what we’re talking about here are different qualifiable definitions, standards and methodologies, and not quantified ones. 

And yet achieving the latter is incredibly difficult at present because of the fact there just isn’t enough data available to enable it. The majority of the fashion industry has no true view of its own supply chain. Can we categorize individual products as sustainable against individual criteria? Yes. But can we truly show depth of impact? No. 

I know this from our work with Google. We’re building out a data analytics and machine learning tool powered by Google Cloud technology that will enable fashion brands to make more responsible sourcing decisions at the raw materials stage of the supply chain. Without that, a lot of this is guesswork, or it’s a case of global averages and assumptive results. 

Creating regulated measurement for the industry is of course intensely hard. There have been numerous attempts already, but nothing that has been universally accepted under that umbrella phrase of “sustainable fashion”. Some of the strongest ones out there that could achieve this remain either too hard or time-intensive to use, or indeed just not proven as accurate enough yet. 

As an alternative, there are a multitude of standards and certifications brands can choose from to help them on this journey, but that space is also overrun and confusing, not to mention costly. One only needs to look at the enormous list Net-a-Porter is referencing on its breakdown of categories to see what I mean here. 

Without any unification on this, where does this all move down the line? Because frankly, we really need it. 

Two weeks ago, we also saw the UK government reject 18 recommendations put forward by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) to help move this space forward. Among them was the suggestion that government should oblige retailers to ensure full traceability in their supply chains to prove decent livelihoods and sustainably sourced materials. Without the role of regulation, we’re at another stalemate. It’s each for their own in terms of defining what is right and what is wrong, creating ambiguity at a time when consumers increasingly want to be told and thus guided.

Here’s the other thing: fast fashion brand BooHoo.com, as with others before it, just announced a new line called “For the Future”, which sees 34 pieces made from recycled polyester. Yet the brand was one of many that came under scrutiny for its standards more broadly in the EAC report. So the question is, even if this new collection is quantifiably better for the environment and for the people involved in making it, if the mainline brand is not, does this make it a better business overall all the same? 

Or rather, is this an example of brands jumping on a new market opportunity both because the consumer demand is growing and the industry expectation is there? In which case, the alternative we’re facing right now is the question of where the line is on greenwashing? Seemingly it’s moving ever more rapidly to a place that’s harder to identify. 

The result is that all of this presents more questions than not. Due credit goes to many of these businesses for moving in the right direction with their sustainable edits particularly, but there needs to be a common and quantifiable set of standards and measurements for us to all understand and use for the long term if we’re to achieve true change. 

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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Campaigns Editor's pick sustainability

Adidas, Reebok & Patagonia top Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index

Sports and outdoor brands adidas, Reebok and Patagonia are leading the charge in the fashion industry’s mission towards transparency, according to Fashion Revolution’s latest index released today.

This year, the three brands are tied at the top reaching 64% of 250 possible points, marking it the first time any fashion brand has crossed the 60% threshold since the report’s first edition in 2017. Completing the top five is Esprit (62%) and H&M (61%). H&M will likely soon move a few points ahead as only yesterday it announced it is now listing all supplier and factory information on individual products on its e-commerce pages.

“The progress we are seeing this year, coupled with the feedback Fashion Revolution has received from brands, suggests that inclusion in the Fashion Transparency Index has motivated major fashion brands to be more transparent,” says Sarah Ditty, Fashion Revolution’s policy director and report author. “We are seeing many brands publishing their supplier lists and improving their scores year on year,” she adds.

The Index rates fashion brand’s and retailer’s transparency levels by measuring their performance in five key areas: policy and commitments, governance, traceability, supplier assessment and remediation, and spotlight issues.

This year, the list of brands analyzed increased from 98 to 200. Other brands ranked include C&A, Puma, Marks & Spencer, Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy, all who remained in the top 10 from 2018, scoring between 51-60%. Luxury, specifically, is beginning to open up to displaying supply chain information, though numbers are still low compared to high performers: Gucci and Bottega Veneta, the highest scoring brands to be reviewed, make the 31-40% score.

“There is still a lot of work to be done”, adds Ditty. “Detailed information about the outcomes and impacts of their efforts is still lacking. The average score amongst the biggest fashion brands and retailers is just 21%, showing that there are still far too many big brands lagging behind.”

“Major brands are disclosing very little information and data about their purchasing practices, which means that we still don’t have visibility into what brands are doing to be responsible business partners to their suppliers.”

This year, the report also deep dives into four of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which it believes is imperative to achieve greater transparency in the fashion industry. These are: Gender Equality, Decent Work, Sustainable Consumption, Production and Climate Action.

For example, findings highlight that brands are not disclosing enough information on their efforts to empower women and girls and increase gender equality, or how they are addressing gender-based labor violations in garment factories. Furthermore, it emphasizes that although 55% of the 200 brands publish annual carbon footprint in their company websites, only 19.5% disclose carbon emissions within their own supply chains, which is where over 50% of the industry’s emissions occur.

Since Monday, Fashion Revolution has been running its annual Fashion Revolution Week, a global series of activations and marketing efforts that aim to advocate for increased transparency in the industry, while calling for consumer to ask brands about who made their clothes. The report’s publishing date, as well as the accompanying global awareness campaign, aligns with the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1,138 people on April 24, 2013.

How are you thinking about sustainability? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your sustainability strategy. 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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Editor's pick sustainability

H&M now lists supplier and factory information on all of its products

H&M has launched a new tool that lists all suppliers and factories attached to an individual product, giving consumers an unprecedented level of access and transparency to its supply chain.

Available from today on all 47 local H&M websites, a ‘product sustainability’ button on individual product pages will display details on materials, as well as the country, city and factory (including address and number of workers) that garment was created in. In-store, that information can be obtained by scanning price tags through the H&M app.

“We are so proud to be the first global fashion retailer of our size to launch this level of product transparency,” said Isak Roth, head of sustainability at H&M. “By being open and transparent about where our products are made we hope to set the bar for our industry and encourage customers to make more sustainable choices.”

As consumers become increasingly worried about social and environmental issues (such as fair labor and sustainable resources), radical transparency has surfaced as one of the top 10 trends that will shape the industry in 2019, according to The State of Fashion Report 2019 by McKinsey & Company and the Business of Fashion. According to the report, 42% of millennials say they want to know what goes into products and how they’re made before they buy, compared with 37% of Gen Z.

Meanwhile the H&M Group, which includes brands such as H&M, Arket and COS, has been working hard towards reaching is 2030 sustainability goals through a number of new initiatives, some of which detailed in their latest annual Sustainable Report published earlier this month. This includes announcing that 57% of all materials used by the Group now come from either recycled or sustainable sources, up from 35% in 2018; and deploying technology such as VR to ensure the design process is run more efficiently.

How are you thinking about sustainability? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your sustainability strategy. 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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Editor's pick sustainability technology

Arket testing blockchain tool for supplier storytelling

Arket's blockchain beanie
Arket’s blockchain beanie

H&M has quietly rolled out a blockchain proof of concept (POC) for a single product on sale at its Arket brand.

A beanie hat comes with a tag attached to it that brings up a blockchain experience when scanned. The result is a decentralized view on traceability of a single item.

Users engaging in it can learn about the story behind the product and its origins. The initiative is in collaboration with blockchain startup Vechain, and can be scanned with either a NFC reader or the VeChain mobile application. Resulting content includes where the item was made, what it’s made from and washing instructions for the user.

The experiment was discovered by a consumer who soon posted it on Twitter. The accompanying video to that Tweet has since resulted in 20,000 views.

This focus on storytelling and provenance from the H&M group comes as a time when the industry is increasingly driving towards transparency. Arket was one of the first in the market to publish the supplier details of individual products on its website, and continues to innovate to find new ways of doing so.

Blockchain is an interesting choice nonetheless – one that is hyped as a buzzword, but still somewhat shrouded in mystery for the industry in terms of understanding its real use cases, as well as the benefits it draws beyond a standard database.

A deep-dive into the reasons Arket is doing it has already sprung up on Reddit, with users speculating as to the advantages presented. As one user said: “Truth is, no one really knows the extent that blockchain will play in the future and in what industries it will succeed. Everything right now is a POC with regards to blockchain.”

There’s also a heavy point to raise as to whether the immutability of the technology – thus the idea that products can be authenticated by the trustworthy platforms on which they are being captured – can ever really be relied on for the very fact there are still human beings involved. That leaves margin for error as well as corruption.

The entire notion of transparency in the industry is one that is shifting at rapid pace nonetheless, with greater trust and reliance placed on those things being revealed compared to just a few years prior. H&M group’s head of transparency, Nina Shariati, for instance, shared on the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent, the fact that it was only 10-15 years ago H&M used to lock its supplier list in a safe in Stockholm, with only five people having the code to get to it.

POC or not, the use of blockchain is evidence the company has not only come a long way since, but continues to lead in thinking about innovations that could be useful and applicable to the industry.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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business Editor's pick sustainability

Everlane founder says time is sustainability’s largest cost

Michael Preysman, Everlane
Michael Preysman, Everlane

The biggest cost in the fashion industry’s bid to move towards a more sustainable supply chain is time, said Michael Presyman, founder and CEO of Everlane, at the Remode conference in Los Angeles this week.

The direct-to-consumer business, which has always focused on transparency, says its various progresses in sustainability have resulted in a real cost increase of 10-15% on individual products. This is something Everlane absorbs directly rather than putting on the consumer, Preysman noted.

Where he sees a key challenge, however, is in the time such innovation takes to get to market. It took the company two years to develop four new fabrics, he explained.

“We have to go out and source new materials, but those materials aren’t generally available in sustainable ways right now,” he commented. For those companies developing thousands of SKUs, getting to where we need to get to isn’t therefore an overnight fix.

Innovation is needed, but much of that also needs to come from driving change with the suppliers, he explained. “At the end of the day, we don’t own the supply chain, so we have to find partners doing the right thing and push them forward.”

His team is focused on both “moving the supply chain forward all the time, and offering a better sustainable product”. It’s impossible to have enough time if you’re not laser focused on what you want to do, he added.

He also explained that the industry needs to look at how to take such sustainable efforts back to the consumer. “Our job is to educate them on what they didn’t know existed,” he said, emphasizing the role of storytelling and transparency. “If we educate them, they in turn put the pressure back on us.”

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.