How To Curb Clothing Consumption?

sector - fashion
type - opinion
Journalist, lecturer and sustainability adviser Olivia Pinnock explores the need for de-growth in the fashion industry.

The power of a strong brand is that it enables you to expand far beyond your origins. Fashion houses have turned millions into billions by expanding into perfume, beauty, homewares and other product categories. With immersive brand experiences on the rise, as explored in LS:N Global’s Guilded Luxury macrotrend, and technology providing new possibilities, non-product brand extension opportunities are coming to the fore.

From Burberry’s in-game Minecraft experience to Hugo Boss opening its first restaurant, 2022 was a year in which many brands pushed the boundaries and explored being a creative platform rather than simply a design house.

Such initiatives are a savvy marketing tactic, but as fashion confronts its environmental impact, could this platform approach be a way for businesses to make profits without over-extracting resources too?

Sustainability activists have called for de-growth in the fashion industry as the most effective way to combat climate change. At present, fashion companies are bound by their investors to chase economic growth, primarily by selling more products. But the pursuit of economic growth, without consideration for the earth’s resources, is causing major ecological harm.

Published by:

31 January 2023

Author: Olivia Pinnock

Image: Vestiaire Collective, France


Left: Ahluwalia x Woolmark Prize 2022, UK; Right: More Joy Disco by Christopher Kane, UK

Earth Overshoot Day is a campaign that highlights the date humanity uses up all the resources that the planet regenerates in a year. In 2022, this fell on 28 July. Meanwhile, the 2022 Fashion Transparency Index found that just 15% of major fashion businesses disclose their production volumes. To meet financial goals as well as each company’s own sustainability goals, they must find new ways to make profits.

Brand extensions such as digital fashion collections, magazines, events and museum spaces are nothing new, but they are so often funded by sales of products with the intention that the return on investment is made through more product sales. That may be about to change, however.

In November, designer Christopher Kane announced that his More Joy range was launching a club night. While the brand is unsure at this early stage whether it will become a revenue driver for the business, it has been born out of a desire to be more than just fashion. Kane said: ‘Apart from sex, there is nothing like the euphoric highs from dancing; everything feels possible in that moment. That is what More Joy is, a feeling, a state of being... I want More Joy Disco to be a playground for open-minded individuals to come together to have THE most amazing time.’

Designer Priya Ahluwalia, who creates limited pieces from upcycled vintage and surplus fabrics, also sells coffee table books and prints exploring key themes and research behind the brand.

EBIT (which stands for Enjoy Being In Transition), founded by former JW Anderson CEO Simon Whitehouse, explores mental health through digital fashion, NFTs, music and film as well as a limited number of physical garments.

This approach is not without its challenges. To generate a meaningful amount of profit, these new revenue streams need serious investment and infrastructure. Of course, it’s not just apparel and accessories that have a footprint either; brands must make meaningful targets to lower production volumes but also assess the impact of any new activities too.

But, as the impacts of the climate crisis become more evident in our lives, the urgency to consume less will only become greater in consumers’ minds and brands must embrace their creativity to offer alternatives.

Olivia Pinnock is a journalist, lecturer and sustainability adviser

‘As the impacts of the climate crisis become more evident in our lives, the urgency to consume less will only become greater in consumers’ minds.’
Olivia Pinnock

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