Covid-19 changed the world we live in. The main problem to solve today is how to start again after this sudden standstill and how this restart can be an opportunity for improvement as well as recovery.
What the fashion industries are beginning to wonder is whether, following the even more profound crisis caused by this pandemic, it is convenient to continue with the same production strategy as always or whether to change the approach to work in a more sustainable way. In the week between 20 and 26 April 2020, the Fashion Revolution Week took place during which the Fashion Transparency Index was published. From this recent study, it emerges that many fashion leaders, producers and brands are questioning their structure by analyzing their sectors to be efficient, the systems to be changed and all the many sustainability initiatives applied to be introduced for the benefit of their company but also the environment and climate change.
Starting from this assumption, however, it is necessary to reflect on a severe problem that has also affected the fashion sector, namely that the COVID-19 has worsened exponentially the crisis condition that permeated the market even before. This means that only those brands that had long since started a process of awareness-raising and adoption of sustainable initiatives will be able to continue their transformation plans. On the other hand, all those who have always used greenwashing will face economic difficulties that are too high to hope to make progress in the area of sustainability or even survive.
Indeed, when economic resources decline, one is prepared to take fewer risks by taking refuge in old, proven approaches. And the more complex a product's supply chains are, the more difficult it will be to make them efficient. This makes transparent and straightforward processes win out, as they can be more resilient in times of crisis and increase customer loyalty. In fact, consumers have now understood how precarious the balance of our ecosystem is and, above all, how much power they have to change the purchasing behaviour of the market. They have, therefore become more demanding and sustainability is rewarding in the choice between one brand and another.
Based on recent data collected by McKinsey in Spain, Germany, France and the UK from around 6000 consumers, it is clear that 16% will want to look for sustainable products once they reopen their stores after the crisis, 20% have already decided to reduce their annual spending on fashion by giving more value to what they already own, and 45% will prefer to follow companies that will demonstrate their involvement and strategies to get out of the crisis and increasingly embrace their approach to environmental and social sustainability. From these studies, it emerges that much more likely companies will be chosen:
- will change their production processes towards process sustainability;
- will invest in transparency and communication towards resource-saving and environmental and social respect;
- will find new strategies to break down the overproduction of new products in favour of the reuse and rental of existing ones.
In this regard, a significant event took place three weeks ago when Helena Helmersson, the CEO of H&M Group together with Ikea, Unilever and other companies in the sector signed a European alliance for a Green Recovery. The aim is to all together contribute to significant investments to restart the global post-crisis economy, while respecting the circular economy and climate change as the only fundamental parameters of the worldwide market.