Can an eco-friendly product also be in vogue? This has been the question that designers are still intensively focusing on. And most-known labels are already woking on the issue via the green business management.
But how many of them truly follow an eco-effort on this issue? Do they put green frist, absolutely before profits? It is unfortunately kind of an utopic idea at least for now; at which rate do they contribute? Let’s examine the brands one by one and also analyze their resulted correctness rate scored by the Rank a Brand survey which distributes brands into the groups with correctness percentages of 75-100 (A), 55-75 (B), 35-55 (C), 15-35 (D) and 0-15 (E).
First sustainable brand in history is one of the worst of today
Giorgio Armani has been the first known sustainable brand by starting to use hemp in its Emporio Armani collection in 1995. Using organic raw material was an easy and smart beginning. Last year, working alongside the governmental organization Green Cross, Armani provided 43,3 million litres of safe drinking water to populations all over the world. However being sustainability requires more than this; having sustainability within each stage. Armani is one of the luxury brands having the lowest sustainability score according to the survey by not concentrating on carbon emissions and labor conditions in low-wages countries. Its correctness rate falls between the percentage of 0-15 and gets a place in the worst group E.
Many brands like DKNY, Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Givency are also in the same lowest sustainability group with Armani. However they seem better than Armani because they focus strongly on carbon emissions and labor rights.
Calvin Klein, Burberry, Gucci, Saint Laurent took their places in a better group, D. Different from group E members mentioned above, these are more curious about labor conditions, civil society organizations like labor unions, periodic reporting of those conditions ... etc. And among these, Saint Laurent is on the bottom. Even if YSL supports the appropriate working conditions for workers, still does not have enough support on civil organizations and that’s why it takes place on the tiny line between belonging to group of D or E.
The best sustainable luxury brand is Hermes
Taking the most known luxury labels, Hermes is in the forefront. Hermes generally meets the needs about carbon emission policy, labour conditions and fair trade. There is unfortunately no application covering leather production or animal farms. Moreover, there has not been any reduce of 10% of carbon emissions yet, considering the last 5 years. It also does not use preferred raw materials. Even if it takes the first place among the luxury brands, there is still many aspects to be improved.
Retailers seem more eco-friendly
On the other hand, the retailer companies seem more eco-friendly. According to a 2012 report by British Retail Consortium (BRC), amount of waste being sent to landfill was reduced by 23 percentage in 2011. It is also estimated to be reduced more by 15 percentage by 2013. Moreover, retailers promised to work towards a 25 percentage of reduction in energy-related emissions from building by the end of this year. Report shows that such emissions had been cut by the percentage of 20 in 2011.
Among the retailers like H&M , Zara , Esprit, Gap , Asos ; Mango is the one having lowest group D. For Mango, there is company policies but which are not applied appropriately. Zara, Esprit, Gap and Asos are in the group C, however. They have better conditions than Mango like having less chemical material usage, no forced or slave labor, supported labor unions, legal working hours for workers, effective health and safety policy and application ... etc. On the contrary, H&M belonging to group B, is the best in retailer brands. H&M is also better than the luxury product labels mentioned above.
H&M is better than all
This position of H&M is simply a consequence of H&M’s seven commitments on
sustainability which they work hard every day to achive. Providing fashion for responsible customers is first of all. The business idea here is to offer fashion and quality at the best price which means production, transportation and selling stages within environmentally friendly manner. Second is to choose and reward responsible partners. They encourage and improve the conditions of their partners in this way. Thirdly, H&M tries to be ‘ethical’ meaning to act with integrity at all times and in all of the activities. It also tries to be climate smart as the fourth commitment by the studies contribute to more greenhouse gas reduction. The three R forms the next commitment: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. For offering the best price to the customers, H&M keeps unnecessary costs down. Smart resource selection and avoiding waste are the key tricks. Additionally, H&M aims to send zero waste to landfill by using 3-R wherever possible. To achieve this goal, it uses natural resources. And the last commitment is about the efforts on employment, education and health in addition to water and innovation of sustainable raw materials. It should not be suprising for H&M to achieve the vision claiming “all the operations should be run in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.”
Be also optimistic about luxury brands’ future conscious
The BRC’s report makes us hopeful for the environmental fashion future in terms of retailers’ works. But what about the luxury brands? Will they try to be better or maintain their current missions even having a huge economic power among other fashion brands?
According to the Italian luxury brand Loro Piana’s managing director Sergio Loro Piana “sustainability is going to become more and more important in luxury fashion market.” It would not stay as a marketing tool only, but will surely be a purchase decision for the mature consumers considering the increasing conciousness. The history travel of green fashion business again seems saying us to be more optimistic about future.
Green fashion business’ history travel
According to the Voguepedia, green movement in fashion systems has started in 1988 by Antwerp designer Martin Margiela’s first collection featuring a leather butcher apron to be used as an evening gown. Then the nineties became years of environmental trends in fashion. Vogue Magazine spotlighted this new trend with t-shirts having the slogans like “Earth Children”.
By 1995, Giorgio Armani began using hemp in Emporio Armani collection. After six years, in 2001, Project Alabama was launched by Natalie Chanin with the help of her sewing artisans from Florence, Alabama. The collection of 200 hand-sewn t-shirts went down a bomb at New York Fashion Week. Same year, the animal-friendly policies, like no leather or fur, were launched as her own line by Stella McCartney.
In 2004, first organic denim line, Loomstate, LLC was designed by Rogan Gregory and Scott Hahn. 2004 was also the year of first Ethical Fashion Show held in Paris. The eco-friendly fashion shows then continued increasingly. Earth Pledge, a nonprofit environmental organization, hold its first eco-fashion show in the begining of 2005. In october of the same year, WWD reported “Ethical Fabrics Gaining Popularity”. It was followed by Suzy Menkes’ article entitled “Eco-friendly: Why Green Is the New Black” in 2006.
2007 was another active year of the green fashion chronology. WWD made notes of designers having fur-free designs. Stella McCartney, Comme des Garçons and Calvin Klein were three of those. Edun’s show was beautified by songs on global warming an gasoline usage. 20.000 shopping totes emblazoned with the slogan “I’m Not a Plastic Bag” were sold out within an hour in London. Again Vogue Magazine, gave place to investigations about the conscientious clothing movement and challenges involved with making jeans green in its May copy. Vanity Fair published its first green issued article on the same month. In October, Portland Fashion Week presented the first all-green fashion week in the world. Rogan Gregory took the top prize at CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards. Colette launched “Green Is In” benefiting Al Gore’s Climate Project.
Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation announced the creation of the Sustainable Design Award by January of 2008. FutureFashion was formed as a show series featuring haute-green coutures from the brands like Versace, Calvin Klein and Saint Laurent. According to the WWF reports, “Green is the new luxury” is the maxim of the table at annual New York Fashion Conference.
In 2009, Vogue Magazine presented the Style Ethics, edited by fashion director Tonne Goodman. Green also became the theme of June copy of Vogue. By the September, Charlotte Casiraghi, the Princess of Monaco, cofounded EVER Manifesto which is both a printed and web magazine, subjecting on sustainable movements in fashion system.
By the February of 2010, the New York Fashion Week became green with a new carbon-neutral policy. the museum at Fashion Institute of Technology presented “Eco-Fashion: Going Green” exhibition focusing on industry relationships with environment. First official sustainable fashion show was held at London Fashion Week. At the end of year, Monique Péan, Costello Tagliapietra and Maria Cornejo won the Eco Fashion Challenge Award.
Major brands and nonprofit organizations came together to form the Sustainable Apparel Coalition in the March of 2011. In recognition of the eco-efforts, Gisele Bündchen was named as Harvard’s 2011 Global Environmental Citizen. By the July, Suno was named a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist as being an ethically conscious brand.
Fashion Week 2012 in New York left innovative mark in terms of sustainability and independence. Providing three bottom lines (People, Planet, Profit) on one hand, designers’ tricky survival acts optimizing “profit” had been observed on the other. 2012 was also host of the largest summit on Fashion Sustainability held in Copenhagen. In July, Sustainable Appeal Coalition launched the Higg Index, a self-assesment standard designed to measure and promote sustainable supply chain operations for appeal and footwear industries, retailers, trade associations and environmental nonprofits.
Once more, the way to totally sustainable fashion systems seems sparkling. The idea would absolutely be in everyone's mind in soon, as Stella McCartney says “we live on this planet and we need to look after it, as without it, we have nothing.”