Today’s consumer is more informed than ever before. As a result, many organizations have switched their approach to various foods, electronics, and now the retail industry. Consumers are increasing demand for environmentally sustainable products. For this reason, the retail industry has been challenged to revise its approach to manufacturing clothing items. Although the industry as a whole has been slow to make a complete overhaul of their processes, some brands have made great strides towards pushing the sustainability agenda forward.
Retailers Struggle to Find Value
The millennial and Gen Z populations are leading the charge for sustainable fashion. However, some retail chains can’t grasp the worth of supplying sustainable clothing. For instance, certain organizations may cater to a teen population that isn’t concerned about environmentally conscious fashion. First, organizations must define sustainable fashion. The blueprint is a blank canvas, which creates hesitancy for organizations to identify a specific focus area. Currently, there are not any sustainability standards to follow. Also, the retail industry must first address the concern for handling excess inventory 1 . Some products may miss the mark with consumers, which then creates more waste and excess inventory. Organizations that successfully balance the sustainability demand with proper inventory will likely have greater success.
Hanging on by a Hook
While the fashion industry brainstorms ways to win with sustainability for clothes, some organizations have taken a step back. Arch and Hook, an Amsterdam startup, has decided to focus on a specific, yet problematic issue in the sustainability initiative: plastic hangers 2 . Arch and Hook is a sustainable hanger company that refers to itself as the world’s number one sustainable hanger brand. Many retail organizations ship their clothing on one-time-use plastic hangers made of polystyrene, to help minimize wrinkles. The plastic hangers get disposed of after the initial use. Arch and Hook estimates that as high as 85% of those hangers will end up in a landfill.
For this reason, the company has introduced the Blue hanger. Instead of plastic, Blue uses materials from river debris from four of China’s largest rivers. Sixteen undisclosed retailers have already signed on to use the new Blue hangers.
The fashion industry still has hurdles to overcome to meet sustainability demands. However, organizations like Arch and Hook are winning by navigating their focus towards materials, rather than clothes specifically. As a result, organizations that target those less concerned about sustainability can still do their part in offering eco-friendly alternatives. Nevertheless, retailers will carefully have to find a way to carefully meet demand, minimize waste, and promote sustainability soon.
1 More Consumers Want Sustainable Fashion, But Are Brands Delivering It? by Andria Cheng
2 ‘The Penicillin of Fashion’: A Hanger Made From Marine Plastics Is Addressing Fashion’s Environmental Hang-Ups by Isabel Togoh