Emerging And Sustainable Fashion Industry In 2022

Efforts to be sustainable are present but slow

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Sustainability in fashion matters. The recent Glasgow climate conference put an urgent spotlight on burning environmental issues of our time. The prevailing scientific opinion is that we need to do more and better when it comes to climate change. It’s that or we live on a planet wrecked by climate change.

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In the case of the fashion industry, our efforts to be sustainable are present but slow. We remain an industry where:

  • We contribute to around 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions
  • Our energy consumption exceeds the aviation and shipping industry combined

Becoming a greener fashion world is a daunting task. No designer, brand or government can single-handedly reform the long fashion supply chains, energy intensive production and waste generation. Still, the future holds hope. With that in mind, let’s look at future sustainable trends in the 2022 fashion industry.

Internet-of-Things (IoT)

A major challenge for the fashion industry is keeping track of emissions created from manufacturing clothing. Our global supply chains are interconnected but also convoluted!

Tracking emissions, let alone keeping them in check, is an impossible task that can overwhelm fashion brands. This is where the IoT technology will become useful.

What if every item of clothing you produce could be connected to the cloud? Such “smart items” could be tracked no matter where they are in the supply chain. This could help brands monitor inventory loss, energy use, supply chain emissions etc. Smart apparel could also be used to improve interactions between customers and manufacturers.

IoT has historically been deployed in the wearables segment in the fashion world (for example, sports shoes, fitness watches, etc.). In the coming decade, I believe IoT will see broader application when it comes to sustainability. Indeed, tech giant Microsoft has partnered with NYC startup Eon for this very purpose. Using its proprietary IoT platform, Eon aims to connect 400 million fashion products to the cloud by 2025.

Fashion-tech CEOs like Natasha Franck believe that IoT will help “digitize” the fashion supply chain. This will help fashion brands develop a strategic system that drives growth as well as track environmental commitments. Franck even states that IoT will become key to creating a future circular fashion economy. I have my doubts regarding the latter proposition. Regardless, smart fashion apparel does have potential to drive future sustainable trends.

Sustainable Language and Its SEO Value

Here is a sustainable trend that is gaining traction since the pandemic. More and more consumers are looking at what fashion companies are saying about sustainability. The SEO value of sustainable language (for example, keywords such as “sustainable”, “eco-friendly”, “green” etc.) is peaking and will continue to grow.

Fashion brands & manufacturers are responding accordingly to the growing eco-consciousness of consumers. Between 2019 and 2021, studies noted a 500-600% increase in sustainable keywords used in product descriptions. This is a good thing. But remember: (SEO) talk is always cheap. In other words, can your fashion brand walk the sustainable talk? Be mindful of the words you’re putting out there if you can’t back them up.

Get Certified (i.e., Walk the Sustainable Talk)

Consumers want to do business with genuinely eco-friendly brands. Many brands fail to prove their sustainable record under proper scrutiny. This is why sustainability certifications matter a lot. Examples of such certifications include Better Cotton Initiative, OEKO-TEX, GOTS etc. These “green certifications” act as a seal of approval that legitimize a company’s eco-friendly record.

Consumers are increasingly becoming aware of the trend of greenwashing. Therefore, getting your company certified and communicating that to consumers will become more important in the future.

Personalized Fashion: Consumers as Co-Creators?

You design a clothing item, then you manufacture, market and sell it to a consumer. This kind of business model sees the consumer as a passive consuming entity. In other words, the consumer has no input at the design and manufacturing stage. But what if things could be different?

Can consumers become our co-designers? Or even co-manufacturers of clothing? This is the future that 3-D printing technology is helping realize. EU Project Manager Gisa Schosswohl believes that the era of “personalized fashion” (i.e., consumers as co-creators) is coming. This will help create “a direct relationship between garment and wearer.” In other words, consumers will care more about the clothing that they helped create.

I find the idea of collaborating with consumers (even on a preliminary basis) as exciting. I agree with Ms. Schosswohl that personalized fashion will encourage localized manufacturing as well as counter the ill effects of fast fashion. That being said, I wouldn’t leap into personalized fashion right away. The current market scenario indicates that it is too early (in my opinion) to jump onto the bandwagon.

Conclusion

Every journey starts with a single step. Mahatma Gandhi took a giant leap for India with a single step towards Dandi. Likewise, astronaut Neil Armstrong took a giant leap for mankind with his first steps on the moon.

We, as members of the fashion industry, can also take a single step and then some. We can better mitigate our environmental impact and become a sustainable (or even circular) fashion world. Why does this matter? Because we owe this-not only to our bottom line but also our future generations.