Sustainable collections from fast fashion giants such as Zara, H&M, and C&A remain a minority, according to the recent post-COVID-19 survey from Lectra and Retviews.
Fashion is the second-largest polluter globally. It creates enormous amounts of waste, pollution, and greenhouse gases every year. It's also responsible for unfair working conditions, huge deforestation, and destruction of ecosystems.
Luckily, conscious consumerism is rising. More and more people demand sustainable products and ethical manufacturing. It's time for large fashion brands and retailers to take massive action to reduce their environmental and social impacts.
Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, consumers are changing their spending habits. While fashion companies slowly reopen their stores, shopping malls stay largely deserted.
More than 90% of consumers are changing their behavior in favor of more sustainability in the fashion industry, according to the latest Lectra’s sustainability report.
Based on the data from Retviews recently acquired by Lectra, the recent post-COVID-19 survey reveals the state of sustainable fashion among the leading fast fashion brands.
Even before the crisis, large fast-fashion retailers already begun selling sustainable alternatives to conscious consumers. They mostly used environmentally friendly materials to create separate collections.
The most common fibers used by large fast-fashion retailers in their sustainable collections are:
- organic cotton
- synthetics like recycled polyester (rPET), polyamide (nylon), elastane (spandex)
- viscose, a type of rayon fiber artificially made from natural sources
The COVID-19 crisis has driven many people to think carefully about how they spend their money and plan for the future. It forces the fashion industry to change the way it designs, produces, and distributes its products.
Consumers are asking for more transparency, accountability, and sustainability. Brand values matter a lot more today when making purchasing decisions.
Sustainable fashion was already trending before the coronavirus pandemic. But the crisis has accelerated change and consumers' demand for more responsible offers.
Fashion brands and retailers must adapt to keep the trust of their partners, employees, and customers. Unfortunately, sustainable collections are still a very small minority.
H&M has under 10% of its product range dedicated to its conscious collection. Zara has only 14% of its collection dedicated to its Join Life sustainable initiative. C&A does a bit better than its competitors and has 30% of its collection dedicated to sustainable fashion.
To appeal to conscious consumers, fast fashion giants promote their sustainable collections everywhere in print, on the web, and social media. But the large majority of their business continues to be wasteful.
“The opportunities offered by sustainability are significant. It’s an issue attracting much greater interest from Generation Z, and retailers have listened to and taken on board these concerns. [...] Brands have a social responsibility to inform their customers, to be transparent about their progress in this area, and to share some of the challenges they face, to educate their communities. There are currently no international regulations for apparel defining what can be described as sustainable. This means that there is still a long way to go before the standardization of sustainable fashion is achieved.”
- Quentin Richelle, Retviews Head of Marketing
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.