The world of fashion sustainability can be better understood by looking at the new models of behavior that are affecting customers. In this post, we are going to look at some interesting trends that have altered the traditional customer-brand relationship.
As a result, companies are required to step up their game and embrace new, more accountable approaches to corporate social responsibility, in order to involve in their business strategy a much wider range of stakeholders. In this post, we are going to address the following topics:
In order to appreciate the evolution of the fashion consumer, we must take into account two new models of behavior in the fashion industry:
These trends show that all in all the customer that fashion brands are speaking too is more aware and better informed of the “behind-the-scenes” of fashion garment production, in terms of natural resources, human resources and profitability goals of a company. At the same time, this does not mean that the modern customer is easier to serve. On the contrary, many fashion brands are struggling to keep up with the pace of the market, and the requests of more demanding customers. These are some additional features of the current fashion client:
In the context of fashion and lifestyle, these trends have created a specific new customer segment which is called LOHAS, or customers who pursue a lifestyle of health and sustainability. This shows how, all in all, the trend shows who the values that should be at the heart of a new generation of companies should revolve around shared values as opposed to personal values.
After having conducted this first, external analysis of the sustainable fashion market, we can move towards a more internal look. Fashion firms in this sense, need to develop management strategies that allow them to address the market challenges. The simples adagio we can identify is the one provided by the “three Ps” People, Planet, Profit. In this sense, academic literature helps business practitioners in identifying three lines of accountability:
This approach is also what created the philosophy of the triple bottom line, as opposed to simply looking at the profits. Moreover, new groups of stakeholders need to be identified in order to take into account all of the individuals who are affected by a company’s actions. We can identify two main categories:
As a result of these movements of thought Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR, in short, has been devised to help managers address the concerns with a utilitarian approach to business (the end justifies the means). This has become particularly relevant in the context of issues which are becoming every day more apparent:
The shifts happening in the business world have been echoed in the world of finance, with the creation of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which has become a guide to sustainable investment.All in all, what fashion managers have to address is the switch from shareholder values to shared values (especially after the 2008 crisis) where fashion firms need to
These management goals will also deliver important benefits such as:
Certainly, this is an area where many firms have positioned themselves, at least at a marketing level, but so far with little commitment.
As a result of what discussed so far, one of the challenges that companies might face deals with the way in which they need to document their sustainability efforts. This is a necessity as, in actual facts, many brands may need to show how committed they are to their cause. In this sense, some examples of fashion sustainability certifications involve:
On a more local (to Italy) note, the Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana has been providing very clear guidelines, regarding the sustainability policies which need to be endorsed by Italian manufacturers who use the Made in Italy country of Origin element. These guidelines break down the whole garment production cycle and address the following elements:
All in all, certifications are becoming more significant, as it may be easy to claim’s a firms’ policies in the context of a marketing campaign but it is far more challenging to actually demonstrate these commitments from a business level.
As we’ve seen in this post, fashion firms need to be very well aware of the fact that in fashion sustainability, the demands of customers are shaping purchase behavior. As a result, fashion managers should be very focused on understanding what types of strategies firms can implement in order to second these new value models and embrace the change.
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