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Has the Sustainable Fashion Industry Reached a Tipping Point?

In the world of environmental management, hearing about clothing manufacturers chasing sustainable textiles, processes, and supply chains is nothing new. But the latest annual, elite fashion-fest in the Big Apple, New York Fashion Week, may just be an indication of how far the industry has come, with the Huffington Post gushing that “sustainable fashion is the next fashionable thing.”

Emma Watson, for example, has been touting her eco-friendly looks on Instagram. Other celebrities including Taylor Swift and Alexa Chung are publicly supporting the sustainably manufactured clothes from Reformation and raising the eco-consciousness of the fashion industry. And luxury clothing manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon, with Kering, for example, having announced a sustainability strategy across 16 brands, according to the article.

Then there’s fashion-force Miroslava Duma, who earlier this year founded FashionTechLabs (FTL), a venture capital fund and accelerator that “helps new technologies and sustainable innovations connect, collaborate and create products and brands to evolve the fashion industry and help reduce its social and environmental footprint,” according to the website.

And HuffPo is not the only consumer-facing publication taking note of the trend. Earlier this summer, fashion magazine Marie Claire published its first-ever sustainability issue, calling it a “historic environmental undertaking.”

Editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider’s letter from the editor mentions a variety of sustainable fashion initiatives, like PVH, the company that owns brands including Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. PVH brought together all of its Ethiopian operations – including dyeing, sewing, etc. – into a single industrial park to eliminate transportation costs and reduce carbon emissions. Other examples abound.

While trade publications like Environmental Leader have been looking at the sustainable apparel industry in terms of sustainability for many years (see links to our most recent articles on the topic below), the fashion industry may be reaching a tipping point. “Influencers and celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio or Emma Watson are influencing the social and environmental agenda,” according to the Huffington Post article. Given the role such celebrity influencers play in shaping consumer ideals – not to mention pressure from investors to be more sustainable and the growing business risks related to not managing supply chains sustainably – corporations are responding to these demands.

More articles on sustainable apparel:

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