Fashion industry has a low pulse on new ethical scale

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Fashion industry has a low pulse on new ethical scale


The Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report, unveiled by the Copenhagen Fashion Summit last week, is a clear casting call to every level of the fashion industry to do more, waste less and act collaboratively in order to lower the impact of the runaway train of fast fashion.

Georgina Wilson-Powell

Wed 10 May 2017

The report was designed by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) to highlight the work that needs to be done if fashion is going to move from its spot as the second biggest polluting industry. 

According to the report’s measurements, which take in design and development, chemical usage, waste, manufacturing, retail and transportation, the fashion industry scores 32 out of an aspirational 100.

“Although many companies are making real progress in optimising business practices, it is clearly not yet enough. If the fashion industry continues its present course of incremental improvement, it will most likely see rising costs and regulation for materials, labor, and processing.”

A man sitting in Riz boardshorts

We need more brands like Riz who make boardshorts from plastic bottles

If things stay as they are, by 2030, 102 million tonnes of fashion and shoes will be produced per year - that’s 500 billion T-shirts to you and me. Not even Kanye West can wear that many.

If the industry, and our demands on it don’t change, its water consumption will go up by 50% and its CO2 emissions will rise by 60% by 2030. We just don’t need yet another ruffled sleeved pixie blouse that much.

Communities too are suffering through low wages and good old fashioned exploitation - the report reckons if the fashion industry spent just 0.5% more on community programmes (up to 0.7% of its sales), those societies would gain €14 billion by 2030.

But it’s not enough to go it alone and just start a carbon neutral, community supporting fashion brand. The whole industry needs to come together to inspire and inform, to lead by example and push for widespread innovation.

“It’s not enough for a few leading brands or sustainability champions to show proof of concept. The broad commitment and coordinated participation of the industry as a whole is needed. Actions well beyond what individual players can accomplish are needed, in order to collectively move the industry to a whole new level of impact improvements."

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