New opportunity for Chinese fashion brands: connecting sustainable fashion and business operation
Sustainable fashion has become an unignorable major development trend in the global garment industry in recent years. The concept originated from the mention of “sustainable development” in discussions of global economic issues. It was then introduced into discourse about fashion, triggering public discussions about the future development of the garment industry, which consumes high amounts of energy and is very labor-intensive.
More and more brands have started to follow the trend, as global consumers are gradually realizing the importance of sustainability. Kering, a global luxury group and parent company of Gucci, announced its sustainable development-based 2025 Strategy in 2016, which aims to reduce the company's environmental profit and loss (EP&L) across its supply chain by 40 percent by 2025, and also to reduce its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2025. LVMH, the parent company of famous luxury brand Louis Vuitton, is working with top colleges such as Central Saint Martins at the University of the Arts London, to do sustainability development research, and promises to conserve energy and reduce emissions. Fast fashion brands including H&M have started practicing sustainable fashion by recycling old clothes and releasing environmental protection-themed collections.
The global industry trend has become very clear, but in China's garment industry there is little mention of environmental protection. For most Chinese brands, the most important thing is to build their brand image and increase sales via the promotion of an environmental protection concept. But the real action of protecting the environment and reducing pollution and waste comes in second. Even so, sustainable fashion will not be outdated because of its minimal impact in China. It will gradually become the development direction of the garment industry. JNBY, one of the Chinese brands promoting sustainable fashion, put two new brands – REVERB and SAMO – on the market in the first half of 2018. REVERB embraces the brand philosophy of circular fashion. JNBY says that its promotion of sustainable fashion is both for moral and business reasons. Its interpretation of sustainable fashion is to make the products unique and more appealing. For instance, products made of environmentally friendly fabrics are more expensive, but if their quality is also much better than other products, then they are unique.
Chinese fashion brands such as JNBY, Esquel Group and Ordos attended the Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2018 on May 15 and 16 to discuss sustainable fashion with global fashion brands for the first time, and shared their sustainability-focused operations at the summit. This indicates that Chinese fashion brands are starting to pay attention to and practice sustainable fashion. Sustainable fashion is afoot in China. Once people make clear the relation between sustainable fashion and business operations, this concept may be a new opportunity for Chinese fashion brands.