April 17, 2014

Responsible Investments

With Earth Day next week and the not-to-be-missed Copenhagen Fashion Summit starting on April 23rd, we thought we'd update you on what is happening regarding conscious shopping and its influences on the apparel industry.

photo via Media Post News

In an effort for the two leading fast fashion retailers H&M and Zara to continue to go "green," this time they have joined forces with the nonprofit Canopy to support their "Fashion Loved By Forest" campaign which seeks to eliminate traces of endangered forest fibers like rayon, viscose, and modal in clothing which all use pulp. So far the anti-deforestation initiative is already backed by the likes of Eileen Fisher, Quicksilver, and Loomstate, so with the help of these mega-retailers it will hopefully send a powerful message that the market is shifting.

photo via Refinery29

Now that they've launched their 3rd conscious collection as well as a new labeling system called Clever Care that provides environmentally friendly cleaning instructions, how sustainable really is H&M? While these new policies are definitely showing progress and of course a complete turn-around for such a major company takes time, we can't help but wonder how they still manage to sell clothing at such a steal. How these prices include everything from fabric costs to wages, shipping, etc is unbeknownst to us but at least they are ethically aware of what they are doing and among the first of many to implement such innovative initiatives.

While its been over 10 months, there is finally word of improvement coming from Bangladesh. The first factories have been inspected and reports show they are in much better shape concerning fire and electrical safety and potential structural issues. You can now access the inspections by factory via the website, bangladeshaccord.org which breaks down all the issues, recommended and proposed action plans, timelines, reference photos, and even contact information. This model is so far proving successful and could eventually serve as a blueprint for other countries that produce apparel and fashion products.

photo via The Guardian

Despite better conditions in Bangladesh, there is so much talk of 'Made in the USA' especially here in NY but is bringing manufacturing back stateside really a more sustainable practice? According to experts like Greg Berteisen of the National Association of Manufacturers, by re-shoring production and supporting American made products, we are not only reducing our environmental footprint but creating healthier and safer workplaces. He also explained how "US manufacturers are the world's most energy efficient." By producing right here on our own soil we can better monitor what we are making and how much which drastically reduces overproduction, a major form of waste.

Walmart has recently repositioned themselves as one of the largest supporters of domestic manufacturing with initiatives to buy an additional $250 billion in American made products as well as back growing businesses by offering grants of $100,000 or more to nonprofit organizations. With their continued commitment to bringing 'Made in the USA' back to our cities we will see an estimated growth of 1 million jobs, a stronger and more self-sufficient run industry, and hopefully a chain reaction among other major retailers in the near future.

We are excited to see what the rest of 2014 has to bring for sustainability developments. Just this month there heaps of eco-conscious events to look forward to from the US to Europe to Canada, Israel, Japan, and Mexico. Now that such mega retailers and fast fashion powerhouses are now investing in more responsible measures, we are hoping it takes off across the board from big to small, high-end to mid-market. Sustainability is finally being regarded as an obligation and as it continues to evolve into a world-wide phenomenon, this global fashion awareness revolution isn't going to slow down anytime soon. 

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