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digital snippets e-commerce Editor's pick Retail sustainability

8 brands turning to responsible packaging solutions

 

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. 

US residents alone use more than 380 billion plastic bags and wraps every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A large portion of those go into the ocean, polluting the waters and damaging wildlife with nonbiodegradable materials. 

Those facts, and many more beside them, are resulting in a desperate need for change. What’s key is that the public is paying attention. A 2017 survey shows packaging professionals and brand owners hear the most complaints about unsustainable or excessive packaging. 

Meanwhile, bans on things like plastic bags are starting to pay off in certain markets – in the UK, over 15 billion of them have been saved from going into landfill since it was introduced nearly four years ago. That stat is particularly significant when you think about the fact these items can take around 500 years to breakdown. 

We’ve already talked about the market opportunity that exists for refillable packaging solutions for those in the health and beauty space, but this challenge is also applicable to broader retail. The good news is brands across all manner of industries, are now doubling down on eco-friendly packaging alternatives as a result. From luxury retailers to online stores, check out these eight examples of those adapting to lower their use of plastics at the delivery stage of the supply chain…

PVH
Calvin Klein packaging

Apparel company PVH, which owns brands including Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, has ambitious sustainability goals that include using 100% sustainably and ethically sourced packaging by 2025. “As a global apparel company, we recognize that we have a responsibility to reduce waste, and one key way to do so is by minimizing our packaging and making it recyclable,” said Marissa Pagnani-McGowan, group VP of corporate responsibility at the corporation. 


The company is already making strides; according to its 2018 corporate responsibility report, 74% of its packaging is now recyclable. Moreover, the PVH Dress Furnishings Group has saved nearly 200 tons of plastic by reducing the thickness of its packaging polybags. PVH also became the first apparel company to join How2Recycle, a project of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. This initiative provides standard labels with clear instructions for customers on how to recycle packaging materials, such as whether to consult a local recycling program or use a store drop-off station at a participating retailer in order to save from throwing the wrapping straight into landfill.

Toad&Co
Toad&Co partnered with LimeLoop

California-based sustainable fashion brand, Toad&Co, partnered with US startup LimeLoop to replace cardboard boxes and disposable mailers with recycled vinyl packages. Customers can request the new packaging at checkout. When the product arrives, the empty container can be dropped in the mail for return and reuse. 

Kelly Milazzo, director of operations at the company, estimates 2,500 LimeLoop bags – each of which supposedly last 2,000 uses – could supply the company’s entire e-commerce business for 83 years. “That saves the equivalent of 5 million plastic mailers,” she told Outside magazine.

MatchesFashion.com
MatchesFashion’s iconic boxes

Last year, London-based global luxury retailer, MatchesFashion.com, began developing a strategy and a timeline for reducing the environmental impact of its packaging. The retailer is known for the beauty of its boxes by its loyal customer base, meaning change comes with the additional challenge of maintaining the quality and aesthetic appeal for which it has become known. 

The company made three pledges: first, to ensure all packaging is widely recyclable; second, to introduce a half-size box with less material; and third, to incorporate sustainably-sourced materials including FSC-certified card and post-consumer waste.

PrAna
PrAna’s eco-friendly labels

Premium lifestyle clothing prAna uses recycled paper and soy-based ink for its packaging, tying its garments with strips of raffia palm tree. The company had to conduct an extended series of tests to make sure the raffia strips kept products in great shape during processing and delivery. The strategy paid off, with the company becoming 80% polybag-free by 2016. 
Quality control is everything however. “We have different guidelines laid out for each type of garment to show our factory how to fold, how to get the hang tag in the right position and how to put the raffia tie on”, explained Meme Snell, men’s product developer at the brand.

Amazon
Amazon’s brand Tide’s new eco-box

Amazon India is committed to eliminating single-use plastic from its packaging by June 2020. The first step is to replace plastic wraps like air pillows and bubble wraps with paper cushions, a recyclable material, by the end of this year. The company also launched Packaging-Free Shipments (PFS) last year and expanded the practice to 13 cities. By securing multiple shipments together in a reusable crate or corrugated box, Amazon can minimize the secondary packaging required for individual shipments.

Meanwhile, Amazon US began encouraging brands to change their packaging design to facilitate shipping, making the process more sustainable. For example, Tide is planning to switch from its existing bottle to a new “Eco-Box” with 60% less plastic.

Reformation
Reformation’s vegetable bags

Reformation is paving the way for other young, trend-led brands to be sustainable, implementing an environmental consciousness into every aspect of its business.  Reformation delivers its e-commerce orders in vegetable bags which are 100% compostable. Once the bag has been used, it was simply break down like organic waste, leaving no harmful chemicals behind. 

The packaging is plastic-free and made from 100% recycled paper products and compostable bio-based films, with even the hangers being bio-based too. With the average lifespan of a plastic or metal hanger lasting only 3 months, Reformation has opted to use recycled paper hangers to minimise the demand for new materials and reduce landfill waste.

Asos
ASOS packaging

E-commerce giant ASOS has put packaging and waste at the forefront of its environmental policy. After a cradle-to-gate assessment revealed that plastic bags produce 60% less GHG emissions than cardboard, the company decided to reduce the number of cardboard boxes in favour of the former.

To mitigate the environmental damage of its plastics, ASOS uses 25% recycled content for the bags. The company has also reduced the thickness of the bags, which is saving approximately 583 tonnes of plastic annually.

The retailer is also working towards having a closed-loop system, recycling consumer packaging into new packaging. Having 10% post-consumer waste integrated into the new bags helps to reduce virgin plastic usage by 160 tonnes annually.

Maggie Marilyn
Maggie Marilyn

New Zealand based womenswear designed Maggie Marilyn is focusing on an often forgotten part of the supply chain when it comes to sustainability, using compostable bags to ship wholesale items. The bags which are made from cornstarch and synthetic polymer, represent a 60% reduction in C02 emissions compared to traditional plastic bags. The bags are produced by The Better Packaging Company, who have achieved one of the toughest standard regulations in Australia, the AS5810 for compostability.

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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business data digital snippets e-commerce mobile product Retail social media sustainability technology

Analyzing fashion’s G7 pact, Gen Z’s streetwear needs, the rise of rentals

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

TOP STORIES
  • Can fashion’s latest sustainability drive at the G7 summit make a difference? (BoF)
  • Gen Z wants something very different from streetwear (Vogue Business)
  • Everyone is launching rental service. Is there enough demand? (BoF)
  • Fashion’s growing interest in recycling clothing (Vogue Business)
TECHNOLOGY
  • 52% of retailers feel ill-prepared to support emerging mobile tech (Mobile Marketer)
  • Facial recognition will be watching and storing your emotions and data (Ad Week)
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Gucci and Saint Laurent face an uphill battle to get green (BoF)
  • Why Levi’s new water strategy represents an ‘evolution in thinking’ (Sourcing Journal)
  • How Copenhagen plans to reach carbon-neutral status in just six years (Fast Company)
  • Amazon under fire for new packaging that cannot be recycled (The Industry)
  • Tiffany & Co releases it’s new sustainability website (CSR Wire)
  • Fast Retailing’s jeans innovation center ramps up efforts to reduce water use (Sourcing Journal)
  • France to prohibit the destruction of unsold stock: who is going to pay for that? (Fashion United)
  • Gore-Tex. Lycra. Could fashion’s next major fabric brand be green? (BoF)
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Hero Cosmetics doubles down on TikTok after results dwarf Instagram’s (Mobile Marketer)
  • Nike, New Balance, and USTA serve up ads celebrating female stars for US open (Fast Company)
  • Benefit and Deliveroo dish out beauty experience (Campaign)
  • PrettyLittleThing wants podcasts to take it from fashion retailer to ‘entertainment brand’ (The Drum)
  • Rihanna plans Savage X Fenty event to be broadcast on Amazon Prime Video (Fashion United)
  • Is WeChat’s growth over? (Walk the Chat)
PRODUCT
BUSINESS
  • Ulric Jerome exists Matchesfashion.com (WWD)
  • ThredUp gets $175 million in funding as resale market continues to boom (Fashion United)
  • Victoria Secret’s parent company’s stock price continues to plummet (The Fashion Law)
  • What Shanghai Tang’s rise, fall and return means for luxury fashion (Vogue Business)
CULTURE
  • The return of the hyper-sexualised male (BoF)
  • Appropriation or appreciation? Unpacking South Korea’s fascination with black culture (I-d)
  • Will Gen Z make non-binary fashion mainstream? (Sourcing Journal)
  • The future of male grooming is gender neutral (Vogue Business)

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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Comment Editor's pick sustainability

What Saint Laurent’s Malibu show can teach us about the environmental impact of events

The recent staging of Saint Laurent’s spring/summer 2020 show in Malibu, California, violated multiple environmental regulations, leaving the local community up in arms, according to reports.

The event, which was denied a permit by the local government (instead enabled via a filming permit from a contractor), went against rules designed to protect the area’s fragile natural resources, writes Vogue Business. Included in that was the fact grunion, a type of fish, were expected to spawn on the sand that evening. Residents also said pieces of the set were left to wash out into the surf and the whole affair was rife with plastics, including plastic sandbags banned by the city. 

This raises questions about the impact such elaborate events, which often last for less than an hour, have on the environment, and the responsibility the industry should be taking to minimize their presence. By comparison, Stockholm Fashion Week was just cancelled in order to pursue more sustainable opportunities for its brands instead. 

Our Event Producer, Grace Collins, who also runs a business called Ten Four, is an expert in this space, increasingly working towards more sustainable solutions. So I called her up to find out exactly what’s going on and how brands can make better decisions with regards to the environment when planning their own occasions…

RA: Given your experience running events, what is the usual sort of waste that is produced from something like a fashion show, a conference or an activation?

GC: On average, the typical event attendee produces 1.89kg of waste per day, 85% of which can be non-recyclable, depending on where and what type of event it is. Food can comprise anywhere between 20-60% of this waste. This is outside of the waste produced by the organizers themselves which, in fact, can be huge.

A lot of the time events, fashion shows and experiential activations in particular, can involve a ‘build’ of some sort – this ‘build’ is usually a one-off, an experiential moment, or a photo op (for example) for guests, and is broken down and thrown out post event without any consideration for the materials used and how they should be correctly disposed of. These can include the likes of wood, plastic, steel – so many materials that if considered in advance and regulated by local authorities could and should be disposed of more appropriately – ideally recycled. 

RA: Are you seeing this change as the industry starts to consider sustainability and the environment more broadly? How?

GC: I have definitely noticed small changes here and there but whether we like to admit it or not, there is a level of ignorance toward the matter until it’s either enforced by authorities or in more severe circumstances, publicly ridiculed. The plus side of the recent Saint Laurent show in Malibu, is that it has now drawn attention to the impact that destination events can have on the environment and the fact there can be such a huge amount of waste created and left behind when these take place. 

The focus and pressure on the likes of these brands and corporate organizations to incorporate sustainable practices has a knock on effect for any event organizer. We need to understand and be more conscious of the footprint our one-off events are leaving on the environment.

A lot of corporate companies and brands alike are becoming more conscious of the impact their working environments and all things associated have on the environment. As event planners, it is our role and responsibility to reflect such sustainable conscience by making necessary changes to the events we produce on their behalf.

RA: What are the barriers or challenges surrounding this?

GC: Costs! A sustainable event strategy is something that can and should be considered and incorporated into every event management plan and event budget from initiation. However, it is quite often the costs that are associated with doing so that turn people off the idea of following through.

RA: What are you doing to help this change?

GC: I encourage my clients to think more sustainably when producing their events. I ask them to consider the likes of going paperless, talk them through the different options and ensure they feel confident in making these necessary changes. The bigger issue at hand – not to make life difficult for fellow planners but in an effort to make a positive change – is that many local governing bodies can be quite lenient when it comes to approving permits for events. 

Every event organizer has a responsibility to submit a waste management plan to their local council/governing body when applying to host an event, but only when hosting in a public space. Even in that case, the level of detail required is usually minimal and local councils do not hold a huge amount of responsibility over organizers or follow through with analyzing the damage that can be left behind on such occasions.

I’m working on a detailed waste management template and a list of suggested waste management suppliers/partners within my locality that can be shared with event agencies, and will hopefully go on to be accepted and monitored by local councils/governing bodies. These plans will need to be submitted and approved by councils’ in advance of any event taking place and then monitored to ensure companies are carrying out approved disposal plan properly.

RA: What are some easy solutions / things businesses could adapt to ensure less waste is produced or left behind from their events?

GC: There are a variety of different areas you can make effective changes in, from venues to catering and overall event production but in order to know where to begin, you need to reflect on and understand your impact. My tips for doing so, include: 

Develop a sustainability event strategy in the initial phases of your event plan, down to choosing a venue or location that is accessible by public transport (metro, buses, city bikes). If there are transfers required, I would suggest partnering with an electric car company, for example. If you can host your event and accommodation under the one roof – do! This will eliminate the requirement for transport.

  • Confirm whether or not your event venue recycles their waste. If they don’t have a system in place then start making a plan. Work with a local waste management company to dispose of planned materials on-site appropriately.
  • Look at previous event budgets to see if there were any areas whereby the quantity of product ordered was too high and ended up going to waste.
  • Use renewable energy sources. With advancements in technology there are many ways in which you can save on power to create a more sustainable event. Be conscious of what power you need and when you need it running. Options as simple as switching to LED lighting and lower power efficiency systems, although costly, will minimize your footprint – talk to your AV company about the options available.
  • Reduce print requirements, go paperless – think digital, incorporate an event app that allows guests to register and check-in without requiring a printed ticket or name badge. You can also make your event itinerary available to guests via this app/webpage, effectively communicating with them in real-time (which is of huge benefit to any event planner), and easily circulating new information/schedule changes. If you’re printing something for branding purposes, steer clear of including dates so that you can use again at future events.
  • Sustainable catering – ask your caterer if they can supply reusable, compostable or recyclable dinnerware? Do they have a food waste reduction strategy in place? Get an accurate guest count and finalize the amount of food needed in advance of the event so that you are reducing the potential waste. Donate leftover food to a nearby shelter. Help longterm by beginning to track typical food consumption patterns at your events.
  • Make it as easy as possible for your attendees to recycle and maintain the venue while still enjoying the event, simply by ensuring you place plenty of recycling stations throughout the venue.

Sustainable practices may not come naturally to everyone. Be patient, take baby steps, practice makes perfect, and every little counts in my eyes.

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data Editor's pick sustainability technology

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower joins H&M to lead AI research

Christopher Wiley
Christopher Wylie

Christopher Wylie, the man known as the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, has joined H&M as its director of research, where he will work on using data and analytics to drive sustainability.

Speaking on stage at the Business of Fashion’s VOICES conference in the UK this week, he said artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to reduce waste in the industry and drive efficiency through the supply chain.

“A lot of fashion companies look at the supply chain and the mechanics from production to distribution, but actually understanding consumers will help you optimize the supply chain because you will better understand what it is they want to buy or they don’t want to buy,” he explained.

That comes off the back of the fact that H&M reported it had a stockpile of $4 billion in unsold clothing earlier this year. Meanwhile, Burberry also came under fire over the summer for news it burnt $37.8 million in excess inventory last year.

But Wylie argued that turning to data is not only good for the environment, but also good for business.

“Investing in AI will allow you to not only better match your units of clothing to your customers, and therefore make more money, but be able to make more money with less units of clothing. So there’s an argument in profit and profitability to invest in AI, and also an argument in sustainability to invest in AI.” That means that being more sustainable is not only an environmental decision, but a business one, he noted.

Wiley will join the H&M Group on December 1 to bring these insights to the fast fashion giant, where he will work alongside Arti Zeighami, the company’s head of AI and advanced analytics.

“If we put this data on top of what we have, then we can be more precise. It means you can stop guessing what you can calculate. It helps you be [sharper] with decision-making,” Zeighami added.

“Tech is cool. There are amazing things you can do with data, it doesn’t have to be evil,” said Wylie.

That followed a keynote he gave earlier in the day in which he outlined the way in which Cambridge Analytica used data from fashion brands as a weapon to help elect President Trump in the US in 2016. Facebook ‘likes’ from brands including Wrangler and LL Bean were used as a primary input for the algorithms that then targeted people with pro-Trump messaging. He referred to this as repurposing technology originally designed for cyber warfare to influence politics.

Earlier this year, Wylie also gave an exclusive interview to Vogue Italia in which he spoke further about why the similarities between fashion and politics are stronger than people think.

How are you thinking about AI for 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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business Campaigns digital snippets e-commerce film product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Topshop buzz score drops, advanced analytics for apparel, analyzing the streetwear bubble

The streetwear bubble
The streetwear bubble

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

TOP STORIES
  • Topshop “Buzz Score” drops after Green allegations [The Industry]
  • Geek meets chic: Four actions to jump-start advanced analytics in apparel [McKinsey]
  • Is the streetwear bubble about to burst? [Highsnobiety]
  • How open-source innovation may transform fashion [BoF]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Menswear retailer Jacamo launches voice shopping [Drapers]
  • Tencent is launching its own version of Snap Spectacles [TechCrunch]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Plastic waste elimination pledge by 2025 attracts more big firms [BBC]
  • Is fashion’s eco-consciousness more than a label yet? [BoF]
  • These gorgeous colors come from dye made by bacteria, not chemicals [FastCompany]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • If we built the retail model from scratch, what would it be? [BoF]
  • Goop opens first permanent store in New York City [Glossy]
  • Singapore’s frictionless grocery store and dining concept [LS:N Global]
  • Digging into drop culture: Evolving a roaring retail ritual [Forbes]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Dior aims to lure new audiences with digital influencer Noonouri [Vrroom.buzz]
  • Barbour Christmas campaign celebrates 40 years of iconic festive film [The Scotsman]
  • H&M launches holiday 2018 campaign starring Aubrey Plaza [Highsnobiety]
  • Designing people’s Instagram Stories is now a million-dollar business [FastCompany]
PRODUCT
BUSINESS
  • Revolve’s blend of data and fashion supports case for IPO [WWD]
CULTURE
  • Why voting is in fashion [New York Times]
  • How Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty is changing the lingerie game [Vogue]
  • What can luxury brands learn from Gucci about millennials? [Forbes]

How are you thinking about 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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Retail sustainability

L’Oréal and Avery Dennison team up on recycling scheme

L'Oréal
L’Oréal

L’Oréal Australia has teamed up with manufacturing company Avery Dennison and local waste management company Wasteflex to introduce a recycling scheme for its labels.

This initiative will help the brand stay committed to its sustainability goals and aim to reduce packaging waste across its international product ranges.

The program, which was developed in coordination between the three companies, will keep a specific part of the label application process (called a glassine paper liner) out of landfills, instead giving it a new life as recycled paper. Up to six tonnes of the glassine paper liner waste could potentially be recycled as a result.

David O’Leary, national logistics manager of L’Oréal Australia explains: “The savings from this program have been significant, but the biggest benefit for L’Oréal Australia is being able to meet our zero waste to landfill through the services and expertise of Wasteflex and Avery Dennison.”

This is not the first time L’Oréal has partnered with Avery Dennison. In 2015, the American branch of the beauty group collaborated with the manufacturing company to leverage its materials science expertise and find a solution for decreasing the waste of its Global MDO product labels. The effort reduced the materials needed for its labels by half, decreasing solid waste by 40%.

With the circular economy becoming an increasingly important topic across fashion and beauty, this initiative exemplifies how innovative new processes and global cooperation can reduce material costs, while also pushing the industry towards a more sustainable business model.

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digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Facebook in crisis, AR unboxing from Adidas, ASOS’ new online sizing feature

Facebook

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

TOP STORIES
  • What the Facebook crisis means for fashion advertisers [BoF]
  • With virtual ‘unboxing’ site, Adidas Originals looks to shake up sneaker drops [Glossy]
  • ASOS’s new sizing feature just made shopping a whole lot better [Refinery29]
  • Everlane’s five tactics for winning at physical retail [BoF]
TECHNOLOGY
  • eBay uses augmented reality to help sellers find the right box for their product [VentureBeat]
  • Blockchains could upend the fashion business [BoF]
  • Google’s new experiment lets you tag digital graffiti in the real world [Co.Design]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Wrangler’s suppliers to adopt new water-saving technology [WWD]
  • How fashion and beauty people really feel about packaging waste [Fashionista]
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t what you think it is [NatGeo]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • The rise of experiential commerce [TechCrunch]
  • How 3 growing niche brands are simplifying e-commerce [AdWeek]
  • John Lewis offers in-app personal stylists and H&M a nailbar as part of a move to ‘experiential retail’ [InternetRetailer]
  • Walmart’s e-commerce CEO explains why its many acquisitions will help it reach millennials [AdWeek]
  • Starbucks launches ‘Tryer’ location to encourage new ideas [RetailDive]
  • Depop marketplace headed to physical retail in LA, NY [WWD]
  • India’s e-commerce market is exploding—and how [QZ]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Glossier’s customer obsession is about stirring up conversation [RetailDive]
  • Winona Ryder and Elizabeth Olsen dance in the streets of Buenos Aires in latest H&M ad [Campaign]
  • Pinterest thinks the future lies in visual discovery—and wants retailers to take notice [AdWeek]
  • Snapchat is doling out free stats to brands on how many users visit their locations [AdWeek]
PRODUCT
  • Zips. Toggles. Pumps. The end of shoelaces? [BoF]
BUSINESS
  • Is dry cleaning dying? [Racked]
  • Louis Vuitton names Virgil Abloh as its new menswear designer [BoF]
  • Kim Jones appointed artistic director at Dior Homme [TheIndustry]
  • Zalando entering the beauty market both off and online [WWD]
  • Rent the Runway’s “wardrobe in the cloud” is opening up to other clothing brands [FastCompany]
Categories
social media sustainability

Vetements sends message of overconsumption through Saks Fifth Avenue windows

The Vetements windows at Saks Fifth Avenue
The Vetements windows at Saks Fifth Avenue (Image via @experiencethebigapple)

Last week we saw Stella McCartney highlighting the issues of consumerism and waste with a campaign set on a landfill site, now Vetements is taking that concept to the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue.

The brand has filled several windows of the New York flagship store with a pile of unwanted clothing that will continue to amass every night through August 10. The Instagram-worthy idea from Vetements’ head designer Demna Gvasalia is intended to represent the notion of overconsumption in fashion.

On Instagram, Saks called it a “bold statement by Vetements calling us all to offset the excess in our lives”.

All of the pieces have actually either been donated by Saks employees or are out-of-stock merchandise. There are also hangers, street signs, shoes and loose plastic heaped up.

There just isn’t any actual Vetements clothing, which given the alternative nature of the brand, doesn’t come as a huge surprise. It also recently said it would no longer stage fashion shows or showcase its new collections in the traditional way.

At the end of the windows exhibit, the pile of clothes will be donated to RewearABLE, a New York-based clothing recycling programme designed to provide sustainable employment for adults with developmental disabilities.


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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.