Why we believe that brave brands will lead the Fashion Revolution

Yesterday the Fashion Revolution week ended. The Terrace reflects on this global movement for transparency in the fashion industry.

The fashion industry calls for a revolution

It’s Fashion Revolution Week and yes, a revolution is what the fashion industry needs. Fast fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, next to oil. Apparel and footwear industries currently account for 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, only in 2015 the fashion industry consumed enough water to fill 32 million Olympic-size swimming pools and the dyeing and treatment of garments makes up roughly 17-20% of all industrial water pollution. Next to this environmental impact, apparel also comes at a social cost. According to the ILO, about 60 millionpeople are employed in the textile, clothing and footwear sector worldwide, and three quarters of these workers are women. In this way, the industry has served as ‘a stepping stone to development’ in many countries. Yet apparel also became widely known for its bad working conditions in factories, a lack of earning a living wage and even human rights violations. The collapsing of the Rana Plaza building in 2013, a building that hosted factories that worked for the world’s biggest fast fashion brands, was the final straw that accelerated a movement for change. The Fashion Revolution was initiated, an initiative that aims to accelerate collective action with worldwide campaigns that request/demand? more supply chain transparency of fashion brands.

Luckily, brave brands are taking the industry by storm

Well, that was quite some depressing news all at once right? Well, the good news is that many great things are happening. Entrepreneurs are stepping up worldwide, making a positive and sustainable impact the ‘purpose’ of their brand. At The Terrace we have worked with multiple ‘fashion revolutionists’ on strengthening their strategies for positive change. Whether they integrate sustainability in their business from the get-go or whether they turn their business model around, brands are getting serious about sustainability, and they are taking the market by storm. And to be frank, we believe the brands that change the status quo to be the only brands that will stay relevant. Why? Because consumers engage with the purpose of a brand more than ever and dedicating your business to the severe challenges the sector is facing, makes you matter more to your audience. Some brands that we believe are leading by example:

  • Good on You– This app rates thousands of fashion brands on sustainability
  • Mud Jeans– Innovative business model with circular jeans that you don’t need to buy
  • The Next Closet – Second hand designer products
  • Armed Angels – Challenges consumers on the true cost of fashion and incorporates sustainable textiles only
  • Veja– A brand continuously making their shoes more sustainable showcasing that sustainability does not happen over night
  • Reformation– Reaching the next generation of consumers with on trend recycled collections
  • Patagonia– Outdoor clothing brand that vows for anti-consumerism.

From individual commitments to an industry-wide movement

Brands play a huge role in turning the tide for the Fashion Industry, but alone they can only go so far. With the growing need for change in the sector, pre-competitive collaboration between companies, civil society and governments continues to grow. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is one of these examples, uniting retailers like Walmart and Patagonia and 200 other companies to assess their environmental and social sustainability throughout the value chain. The Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) enables member companies to assess and? improve workplace conditions. In 2017, The Fashion for Good centre opened in Amsterdam, which enables international brands, producers, retailers, suppliers, non-profit organisations, innovators and funders to work together in changing the fashion industry for the better. But also at country-level industry stakeholders are coming together to change the fashion business for the better. After the Rana Plaza collapse, the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile  was initiated, a shared commitment  initiated by industry associations, trade unions, NGOs, and the National Government of the Netherlands to collaborate on many environmental and social issues in the garment sector.

Are you a company working in or with the apparel sector and want to create positive change?

There is a lot you can do. Addressing the challenges in the apparel sector and strengthening your business go hand in hand. Not sure where to begin? At The Terrace we are always happy to help brave organizations find their focus in becoming more sustainable, for instance with our Brand Purpose workshop. Get in touch with our team here if you want to know more.


Black Friday: because shopping is fun, but should it be greener?

In Europe we look with wonder at the millions of Americans who line up in front of Walmart to get their hands on a good bargain the moment grandpa puts down his fork after a convivial turkey dinner. ‘Black Friday’, the day after Thanksgiving, marks the official start of the holiday shopping season in the United States. Retailers use the hype created around the tradition by offering appealing discounts that move consumers to camp outside of stores waiting for the early openings. This year, the National Retail Federation estimates 147 million Americans will start their holiday shopping during the Black Friday weekend, boosting sales of retailers who hope to clime out the red numbers into the black.

So what exactly is moving American consumers to give up their precious night’s sleep and spend hours on end queuing up to spare a few bucks? Fact is that for many, bargain hunting the day after is just as much of a tradition as the turkey and pumpkin pie on the night before. The rush of finding that two-for-one and being able to give your family members that extra special present under the Christmas tree can be a truly satisfying experience.

However, not everyone is thrilled about the exorbitant expression of American consumerism that heralds the holiday season every year. Reoccurring stories about fights and stampedes of frenzied shoppers have led to a somewhat tainted reputation of the tradition. In recent years, retailers themselves have become the cause of resentment due to their decision to move up opening times to 9 and even 8 p.m. on Thursday, nibbling their way into the sanctity of Thanksgiving Eve. Both employees and families are starting to grow weary of the relentless efforts of retailers to maximize their profits at the cost of family tradition.

The upside to all this fuss is that an increasing number of citizens and companies are seizing the discussion about Black Friday as an opportunity to push for positive change. Last year, Patagonia published their surprising and inspiring “Don’t Buy This Jacket” ad on Black Friday, encouraging consumers to think about the environmental impact of their behavior. This year, too, the call to use Black Friday as a moment to vote with your money and choose for sustainable alternatives is growing louder.

That definitely sounds good to us. Almost as good as a slice of pumpkin pie.

Written by Leontine Gast and Jacobien Crol