World Environment Day: what is sustainable fashion? How will this impact trends? Harkirat Singh of Woodland explains
Eco-fashion has become the topic of conversation in the city since today’s consumer is very well informed. He realized the damage done to the environment in the past and the need to act immediately to reduce it with human effort. Sustainable and recyclable materials are now becoming more readily available and affordable due to the increasing demand for sustainable textiles and clothing products by consumers. Woodland, one of the leading manufacturers and suppliers of clothing and accessories, strongly supports sustainability because, being an outdoors brand, nature conservation is its central pillar. Since its inception, the brand has used environmentally friendly products such as organic cotton, recycled rubber, etc. to manufacture products as well as to design and build products to perform better and last longer. In exclusive concert with Financial Express Online Harkirat Singh, General Manager, Aero Club (The Maker of Woodland & Woods) talked about sustainable fashion, green goals for the fashion industry, and more. Extract:
What do you mean by sustainable mode? What should brands do to make their products environmentally friendly?
Sustainable fashion is a very sincere two-pronged approach and we are one of the proud brands that have been built on these principles since its inception. Our philosophy was very clear, that is to say:
- To ensure careful selection / sourcing of natural resources and to use them effectively and efficiently in the production, manufacture, packaging and sale of our products.
- guarantee the best quality to ensure comfortable redesign, reuse and recycling of the product and its components.
The early 90s was the time we ventured into India and it was the time when companies focused more on profit with minimal emphasis on brand building which is a vision. short-sighted. However, as part of our global presence, we have always believed this to be an eco-friendly brand and have followed universal philosophies regardless of region of presence / cost implications. , because it is the backbone of the Woodland brand, very effectively represented. by / synonymous with the tree logo.
However, over time this awareness was well recognized by consumers and as a result brands started to work in the same direction as needed at the moment.
In a recent study, it was found that major brands had failed to meet their green goals. What about sustainable fashion? Why are brands failing to meet the target?
The fashion industry always identifies a looming gap when it comes to meeting social and environmental goals. For an industry to achieve its goal, sustainability must be practiced at all stages of the product’s life. Companies must make an effort, starting with the design, acquisition and production of raw materials through to manufacturing, then through transportation, storage and marketing until the final sale that leads to use. , reuse, repair, remanufacturing and recycling of the product and its components.
The main reason for failure in achieving these goals is the inability to complete all of these steps. Then there are many sustainability issues; the fashion industry encompasses a complex set of factors including human rights, affordability, supply chains and materials. This means that for sustainable fashion to be successful, it is important for consumers and businesses to rethink the world of fashion.
What will be the impact of long-term sustainability?
The fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of global carbon emissions and almost 20% of wastewater. For example, textile dyes pollute water bodies, with devastating effects on aquatic life and drinking water. And the stretch spandex material woven through many fashionable styles is made from synthetic materials derived from plastic, which reduces recyclability and further increases the environmental impact.
Knowing all this, consumers have become selective in their fashion choices. This industry is all about emotional attachment, loyalty, and enthusiasm for brands. And we are very convinced that in the future, brand love and loyalty will depend very much on the attributes of sustainability that a brand enables or builds with its consumers.
What challenges (monetary, etc.) do fashion brands face when they opt for sustainable development? Explain
Rising costs of sourcing raw materials is one of the biggest challenges the fashion industry faces when it becomes sustainable. Not only the costs of cultivation / sourcing, but also of processing and processing the raw materials needed to manufacture new fabrics and design lines have been on the rise for a long time. Unless technology helps us recycle fabrics and clothing more efficiently, the current cost of collecting raw materials will strain the fashion industry even more.
Money vs environment: has sustainable development been profitable for you? How much extra money does a brand need to become sustainable? How much more did you spend on this move? How much money do you plan to invest or raise more to keep up with your goal?
Sometimes companies are measured beyond their monetary impact. The first “extra” required is the mindset to contribute to ProPlanet insiders; there is a reason why we say “where there is a will, there is a way”. Our brand was built on sustainability as the strongest pillar and we have never hesitated to invest in the same as it is part of our long term strategy and started a few decades ago when we started our business in Canada and the USSR.
How was business during the pandemic? When was the product launched? When did it become sustainable? When do you plan to become sustainable? How do you see the future of sustainable fashion?
Business during the pandemic has been slow overall, although this has certainly raised awareness of the need for good care / preservation of the environment. In the current scenario, the need for sustainable fashion has become even more important as the consumer has fully understood the need to take care of the environment.
Defining the future of sustainable fashion relies on knowing people have about the source of clothes, such as where the clothes come from and how environmentally friendly their production process is. But with ever-changing consumer habits, more and more people are curious about how production is going and how it affects Mother Earth. Many customers buy from brands they identify with and many opt for sustainable fashion. Today, with the evolution of time, the reuse, recycling, exchange and donation of clothes are becoming more and more common in the fashion world. Conscious consumers have started to prioritize quality over quantity.
At Woodland, as part of one of our Pro Planet community initiatives, we strategized and mastered the technique of using scrap rubber to make shoes. The use of recycled rubber ensures minimal use of valuable resources during the manufacturing process, which saves impressive amounts of natural resources, energy and thus reduces greenhouse gas emissions and slows down global warming.
In clothing, we have a series of technical fabrics that help eradicate dangerous animal bottles that have become a by-product of our daily way of life. Woodland has developed a special “PureGreen” yarn which is made from the processing of non-biodegradable pet bottles. By developing such technologies, we want to clean up the environment as well as use these problems for the benefit of humanity.
Are customers willing to pay more for sustainable fashion?
The purchasing behavior of consumers also depends on their income. So while premium customers are willing to pay more for sustainable fashion, there are others who are finding other ways to contribute to sustainable fashion, in their own way. That said, there is still a large community that finds it difficult or difficult to know which fashion merchants are engaged in sustainable retail.
What can be done to make fashion sustainable while being price sensitive?
Sustainability in the fashion industry has become the buzzword over the past decade and the power lies with the consumer. The fashion industry can become more sustainable in a number of ways:
· First and foremost, the use of environmentally friendly raw materials and processes leads to skin-friendly products that smooth our eyes, our skin and most importantly, our mental satisfaction.
· Second-hand shopping: As millennials opt for second-hand shopping, many brands and retailers have come forward to embrace this trend. Used shopping has unique and vintage styles to stand out in current fashion trends.
Repair, overhaul and recycling: The brand and retailers are improving the customer experience by providing them with repair facilities for their clothing. Even for clothes that cannot be repaired, they are redesigned according to the latest trends. And, upcycle fashion uses pre-consumer and post-consumer waste to make new products. The process reuses old clothes without going through the recycling process.
Is there anything Indian brands can learn from the West when it comes to sustainability or is it the other way around?
Indian brands are moving towards sustainable fashion with minimum impact on the environment. Developed countries are much more aware of the reuse and rejuvenation of materials. Now these values are being followed here, and there are also some startups getting ready to promote sustainable fashion. It can also be said that the pandemic may have affected certain changes in attitude and behavior among consumers.