Fashion is a fast-moving industry. Every season, the new trends come to replace the old ones, making the clothes you bought only a few months earlier suddenly obsolete. As a result, trends only survive a few seasons, meaning that everything that is from a previous stock is immediately labelled as worthless in business terms. It’s this knowledge that pushed Burberry to burned almost £30m of unsold inventory in July 2018. The outrage made a wave in the media, but stock destruction is, unfortunately, standard practice for big brands. The environmental consequences of such mass product destruction are not light. But there is no reason why small brands couldn’t be part of a fashion revolution already. While big names are more likely to have the budget to ignore the green repercussions of their strategies, little shops can make a difference today.
Reduce waste with designed-to-fit items
The first course of action is to reduce waste at a production level. Indeed, with countless fashion specialists recommending to have your high street items tailored to your body shape, it’s fair to say that there is no such thing as a one size fits all. Indeed, while new technology allows companies to produce more and more quickly, the fashion industry fails to meet shoppers’ expectations. Garments that don’t fit are returned or altered, increasing the waste ratio for each piece of clothing. It makes no doubt that the time has come for sustainable material and production methods to reduce waste. But, more importantly, reducing wasteful strategies is all about creating pieces that are designed to fit the individual shape of each shopper, such as Nike Flyknit that is knitted to the shape of your foot. The Japanese brand Zozo has recently been forced to close down its European business due to failure to create the fitted designed its promised. However, we can expect similar brands to find inspiration in their process.
Create manageable delivery parcels
Online shopping is the preferred approach for many busy shoppers. Unfortunately, it is also a substantial source of environmental waste. Plastic sealable bags continue to be the preferred option for small retailers, instead of working with dedicated packaging design companies that can help them to minimise both size and environmental cost for each parcel. A small cardboard box can be a cost-effective option too.
Encourage a bag for life approach
If you ban plastic from your e-shop, you should also ban it from your brick and mortar shop. You can’t, however, remove entirely the bagging option for your customers. Nobody wants to leave a shop without any way of protecting their new purchases. Offering a recyclable and branded bag for life at a small fee can make a huge difference. You can also consider plain paper bags.
Reduce waste with donations
What happens to your unsold garments at the end of the season? Seasonal sales serve a specific purpose; they help shops to make room for the next collection while making a small margin on the previous models. But donations to charity shops and organisations are also an excellent way of giving your unsold a meaningful end.
Shop shops have a lot of options to make their fashion sustainable. Technology has become more affordable and can make a significant difference. Additionally, reducing waste at the shopping level through dedicated packaging, bags and unsold management is part of a green approach in the fashion industry.