It's time to get the triple bottom line (back) in fashion

The UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action was created in 2018 with a specific goal in mind: “to drive the fashion industry to net zero Greenhouse Gas emissions no later than 2050 in line with keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees”.

Nice words, but what about facts?

Over the last decade, fast fashion brands seem to have rather diverting from this trend.

Why is that?

First, because of the complex network of stakeholders involved across the value chain.
Secondly, fashion labels primarily continued focusing on a single (bottom) line of clothing: Profit.

The results?

  • In Europe, fashion companies went from an average offering of two collections per year in 2000 to five in 2011.
  • Some brands offer even more: Zara puts out 24collections per year, while H&M offers between 12 and 16.
  • The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or landfilled every second.
  • Washing clothes releases 500,000tons of microfibers into the ocean each year — the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles!
  • The fashion industry is the second-largest consumer of water worldwide and emits 10% of all man-made carbon emissions(continuing on the current trajectory, the share of carbon budget could jump to26% by 2050)

Despite some positive actions left and right, ‘greenwashing’ meanwhile often let fast fashion companies appear immaculate in our dress for success.
Yet, the stains on their apparel are evident.

So, how do we clean them?

We should replace the profit-based (toxic) detergent with a more sustainable (soapy) solution: A triple bottom line.

That means adding two essential layers to the fashion value chain: People and Planet. This will help brands focus as much on social and environmental concerns as they do on profits.

But how can fashion firms achieve that?

Our partner Forum for the Future lays down some guidance with fashion brands needing to start to measure, track and report on their practices in each step of their supply chain:

  • materials sourcing (agriculture)
  • manufacturing
  • processing (e.g. dying)
  • sales
  • consumption
  • disposal

Nice words, but no easy task…

The profit-centered business model is clearly out of fashion, and some companies, albeit with some mileage to go, seem to be already on the right track, like G-start, Hermes and H&M.

But which other fashion brand will take truly serious steps in the right direction? Armani, DKNY or perhaps Mango? Maybe Prada? Or will it be Fendi or Luis Vuitton…?

With years of experience and hands-on practice in streamlining farmer-to-consumer value chains ourselves The Purpose Factory can help you implement your triple bottom line approach.

Just give us a shout & we’ll help you out – no matter how complex your stake holder map is!