Written By: Marielena Bravo
According to the Council for Textile Recycling, Americans will throw away more than 35 billion pounds of textiles in 2019, a number that has doubled in amount from 1999. Fast fashion companies are primarily at fault here, adding to the waste at alarming rates. A new report by the Ellen Macathur Foundation, states that the fashion industry is now the world’s number two polluter, with apparel and textile manufacturing emitting more greenhouse gases than shipping and global aviation combined. The luxury retail sector has also been a big player in unnecessary waste, like British fashion brand Burberry, who until this year, was burning more than tens of millions of dollars of unsold goods. The company’s 2017 annual report revealed that the company had burned 28.6 million pounds of clothing and cosmetics. Many other luxury companies do this simply to safeguard their brand’s reputation of a high-end price tag, but the waste is a rising issue that only few companies have prioritized, but are paving the way for sustainable fashion.
Eileen Fisher Renew was introduced by the company to buy back its old clothing from customers, offering a $5 reward card per item. That clothing is then donated or up-cycled into a one-of-a-kind design resold under the Renew label. Patagonia also introduced Worn Wear in 2005, buying clothing in good condition back from their consumers, and selling it again in stores at discounted prices. Technology is another big player in reducing waste, as certain companies are now using Voice of the Customer, a system that predicts winning and losing products better than intuition or historical data can. With the greater accuracy of the technology, retailers can invest only in the products that will actually sell. Kohl’s is a company that has successfully incorporated this technology on their product selection and speed to market. This allows the brand to sell more with less inventory. If other brands were to take this approach, they could avoid heavy markdowns, a reduction in gross profits, and the overall negative impact their waste will emit to the environment.
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National Retail Federation Student Association @ FIT
Forbes | Greg Petro (Sep 23, 2018) | Eileen Fisher, AYR, And Patagonia Take Fashion Green