Researchers and business leaders stressed the need to reduce the environmental effects of fashion; COVID-19 has increased the need for a sustainable industry. Sustainability is the attribute of not being hazardous to the ecosystem or depleting natural resources and leading to a longer-term ecological equilibrium. However, its primary significance is that it will last for a period of time.
The brainchild of a creative director of the Himêya brand, Akanksha Himatsingka, CEO and Himatsingka EMEA and Asia Pacific, defined sustainability in this crisis as an approach to life in India. She believes that the crisis of coronaviruses will result in many improvements to food items, the way we are traveling and the way we operate. Similarly, Liz Simon, head of sustainable transformation at Fashion3 in France points out that it is not supported to fall back into default mode. Sustainability should be prioritized above all else.
However, for many, it may seem an insurmountable challenge. Especially when stores remain closed and depressed consumption pauses revenue that is necessary to give rein to their sustainability efforts. As Doug Cahn, founder of corporate responsibility consultancy The Cahn Group fears the sustainability agenda may be pushed aside while brands and retailers do everything they can to stop the bleeding in the face of dramatic drop in demand. Indeed, Morten Lehmann, head of the Global Fashion Agenda sustainability organization, fears that retailers will pull new COVID-19 crisis management teams from their green teams. Lehmann believes that these things will penetrate the supply chain even higher since manufacturers cancel orders and a cash flow crisis can’t prioritize sustainability because of the pandemic’s pattern.
Have to reframe the value for a new vision
Although fashion brands can still achieve some of the sustainability objectives of 2020, they will still have to create a new vision. For Fashion3 the company is re-evaluated by transitioning from a conventional P&L to an E P&L, a monetary evaluation both focused on market practices and an overview of its supply chain and environmental impacts. The business seeks to understand how its six brands impact the environment and how the interest it creates in social terms can be calculated.
Another important factor is capital. The fashion industry has been tied to shareholders seeking quarterly growth, which has contributed to brands and retailers focusing on short-term decisions to deliver growth. The industry’s absolute focus on entry margins has often led fashion to its supply chains moving from China to Bangladesh to Ethiopia, which is just not sustainable
Simon advises companies to look at final value rather than short term gains. The pandemic, she feels may force companies to change how they value both themselves and the product they put out into the world. Sustainability in fashion depends on both consumer consciousness and brands’ wielding of their influence over consumption. This will require a great amount of transparency on behalf of brands. Himatsingka believes that sustainability can not be parroted or used to collect one-off capsules. She describes it as a society that must be holistically consumed. While most brands have joined the sustainable vehicle, there are still many that haven’t joined. Now, the pandemic will only compel these businesses to do so.