We’re calling it. As we look forward to the new year, these are the standout opportunities and challenges that we expect to define sustainable fashion in the year to come.
What will the sustainability conversation look like in the new year? What will the industry prioritize, and how will the industry adapt under the ongoing pressure of Covid-19-related turbulence? As 2021 comes to an end, these are the standout opportunities and challenges that will define sustainability in the year to come.
1. Circular Thinking
If fashion could adopt a closed-loop system, materials would be endlessly reused and recycled, thus eliminating waste and pollution by limiting the extractive production of virgin raw materials, regenerating natural systems, and decreasing textile waste.
2. Next-Gen Materials
From spider silks to mycelium-grown leather, fashion has seen its fair share of new materials that aim to reduce carbon and improve biodegradability or recyclability. However, many of these innovative fibers are still in the pilot phase and will need more time and funding before becoming commercially available.
With so many raw materials coming directly from nature, the apparel industry’s supply chain is directly linked to soil degradation, water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and other disruptions that lead to habitat loss.
4. Equitable and Transparent Supply Chains
Only 14% of companies able to track the countries where their primary raw materials are grown or extracted, greater transparency is needed to identify and manage the risk associated with their sourcing practices.
5. Honest Marketing
Rather than relying on vague buzzwords, narrowly focused cherry-picked goals, and green claims without any credible data, brands will invest in greater education and upskilling for communicators at every industry level to better understand and drive the fashion-forward.
6. Degrowth Mindset
As we look to rebuild a more equitable and sustainable industry, one thing is clear — old ways won't open new doors. Intertwined with fashion's overarching sustainability issues is overproduction and overconsumption.