In the past few years, the fashion industry has not only exposed all kinds of discrimination allegations, it has also become the world’s largest source of pollution. We are not talking about fashion giants, but “luxury goods.”
Currently, about 87% of the produced globally 5.3 million tons clothing each year is burned or discarded. At the current rate, the textile industry will discharge more than 20 million tons of plastic microfibers into the ocean by 2050 . By 2030, we expect to use two resources of the earth, and the demand of clothing will increase by 63%.
And in 2018, some reporters discovered that Burberry has destroyed nearly 30 million pounds worth of clothes, bags, perfumes and shoes – those that appeared on the runway and in the brand boutiques. Burning out of unsalable inventory is an open secret to the fashion industry. Over the past few years, Richemont, with Cartier and Chloé, as well as Céline and Chanel, have been approved for destroying millions of pounds of unsalable stock. Bond Street may not be much different from “Made in Bangladesh.”
We must ask ourselves how these environmental slaughter are associated with the value of luxury goods. Why are luxury brands so backward in their pursuit of environmental protection? Most importantly, how do they completely discard the meaning of luxury?
Every fashion big brand does this, or has done this. why? Because the establishment of luxury brands is based on the premise of scarcity and unparalleled importance of exclusivity. The price cuts for the products are bad enough. If they can’t sell them, they don’t become as cheap as the fast-moving brands or they are thrown into the trash. Excessive luxury brands appear in discount malls such as TK Maxx, which dilute the brand’s stock price.
In addition, if “luxury” products become too easy to buy, they can easily fall into the hands of counterfeiters. The £450 million black market is not only illegal, but also causes vulnerable groups and illegal immigrants to be exploited as cheap labor. The benefits generated may be used to organize crime and smuggle weapons, drugs and population.
However, these products are burned – most of them are not degradable (zippers, synthetic fibers and plastic buttons) – it is certainly not the answer. This approach reflects a broader systemic problem in the fashion industry. For example, the fear of the “sheet business.” Does a normal person buy bed linen at full price? Everyone who knows how to pursue a good deal knows that you can always buy the same product with less money. This also applies to T-shirts or designer brand off-season skirts.
The public’s shock to this incineration product reflects the cultural shift in the luxury industry that is a crossroads from the rise of e-commerce, social media and mid-end brands.
Luxury should be represent the scarcity, tailoring and deliberation in production and design. However, in the 1980s, luxury brands became large businesses, and fashion became an international industry. The boutique opened in Dubai, the lipstick was sold in Beijing, and the suitcase was opened in Moscow. A large number of perfumes, cosmetics and sunglasses began to grow in revenues for major fashion brands. The products that could not be sold were burnt down at the temple of Mamen.
Before we think that it’s too late and desperate, we need to remember that the brand-name packs that burn in the fire of hell are not all. There is also a brand in the world that respects the definition of the word “luxury”. For example, in Hermès, everything is handmade, meaning they can control their supply chain and only launch a limited number of products each year – so they have a reputation list. The French brand also has an innovative project called “Petit H”, where craftsmen make small pieces of fabric and leather, smart and stylish.
HERM’S Petit H series made of leftover leather
The younger generation of designers are not only happy to develop sustainable production methods, but also to make it sexy. Richard Malone is known for his brightly colored, sculpturally tailored women’s wear, but it is less well known that most of the materials he uses come from marine waste, fishing nets, plastic bottles and acrylics in school uniforms, recycled into cleverly tailored knitwear, and In general, the “green” fashion in people’s minds is very different. It’s hard to imagine the full color of the clothes. He was also worked with a group of female textile workers in Tamil Nadu, India, and hired them to dye them in a natural, low-consumption, pollution-free way. Richard is just one example of this generation of young designers who use innovative and low-key methods to make clothes and care about environmental issues.
Richard Malone 2019 READY-TO-WEAR
But when is moral high ground able to stop people’s love for beauty? Compared to what this dress does, we are more likely to care more about how it looks like wearing it. That’s why Malone’s clothes perfectly match the realities of women’s life – sculpted shoulder-length long coats, high-waisted flared pants, streamlined cut cross-knit dresses that are not only hand-made, but also it is easy to machine wash.
“Fashion has changed a lot. The changes in the past 20 years are incredible,” Richard said. “For me, it’s important to create products that are practical, not unrealistic. We can’t afford factory production, so we Make it yourself. This is what consumers want, they are smart, they can see through marketing and promotion.”
The Irish designer previously worked for several luxury brands, where he witnessed the burnt exotic leather and unsalable materials. “The quality of some luxury brands is no different from that of high street products,” he points out. “The quality is the same, just the difference, the difference between 2000 and 200,000.”
This brings us back to the most important question: how to solve the status we are facing? For many brands, the answer is a circular economy. This is a “cycle” of value, and products and materials are recycled, remade, and reused. This is a way to replace the traditional linear cycle of the product – manufacturing, use, and disposal. At last year’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit, H&M, Stella McCartney, Nike, and some ironic Burberry gave a speech about making the cycle of manufacturing, using, and discarding the apparel industry a thing of the past. H&M even promised an admirable plan: to be fully cycled and renewable by 2030.
“Fortunately, the environment is changing through information transparency, technology and consumer awareness,” said Julie Gilhart, former fashion director at Barneys New York and a fashion consultant who has long supported sustainable development. She pointed out that more than 77% of Millennials are more inclined to buy environmentally friendly brands, but prices and aesthetics cannot be ignored.
All of this is also requires widespread acceptance of the second-hand trading market. The market has expanded with the rise of companies such as The RealReal and Vestiaire Collective that sell proven second-hand designer clothing and luxury goods in the form of Net-a-Porter. In April, Stella McCartney and The RealReal, pioneers of animal abuse, entered into a partnership to participate in the circular economy. Their concept is that when you hang a Stella McCartney product on a second-hand trading platform, you get a £100 voucher for the brand’s new product. Simple but equally genius.
“This method of cleaning and rebuilding the wardrobe is completely recyclable,” Gilhart explains. “Stella strongly encourages people to sell their clothes to a dealer like the RealReal so that her clothes are not thrown into the trash. Keep their value for a long time.”
Stella McCartney 2019 READY-TO-WEAR
It is clear that the fashion industry is ultimately for consumer service. Many consumers pay more attention to price, novelty, quality and design than the moral considerations of purchasing choices. Just look at the endless appetite of young people like Boohoo, Miss Guided and ASOS, and you can see that they will choose cheaper, not carefully designed, produced or recyclable clothes – Especially when they know that the “luxury” brand is the same as the fast-moving brand.
Now, the fundamental solution to the problem depends on the fashion brand itself, especially for those aspiring brands, who need to set a real standard and definition of what is “luxury” – a source of pride and deliberation.