The top 9 sustainable fashion articles of 2019 

For the past few years, we’ve gathered the latest and most relevant news in sustainable fashion. Each week we send out a round-up of the 5-7 articles that we think are must reads to stay up to date with the innovations, brand commitments, collaborations and thinking in the fashion industry. It’s been really inspiring to see the conversation shift from being a niche subject only covered by sustainability media to now being a well-covered topic across different types of outlets, especially mainstream fashion platforms.  

We love curating this information to ensure our community stays at the cutting edge, but it’s also interesting to see what pieces of news our audience engage best with. In the newsletters, we provide a short summary of the articles for ease, so we know it’s a big sign when people click through to read more in depth. That’s why we want to share the nine most clicked articles from our 2019 newsletters. 

These articles show that people are taking sustainability in fashion seriously. We all know sustainability is essential and people are looking for the tools to properly embed sustainability into their business and brands. Although rental and resale started to really enter the mainstream in 2019, the most clicked article about consumer behaviour covered the shift from green purchasing to no purchasing at all.  

Below we include the most clicked on articles and reports from our 2019 weekly newsletters: 


Made In Poverty Report from Oxfam Australia

In Oxfam’s latest report, it was found that women in Bangladesh and Vietnam making clothes for the $23 billion Australian fashion industry make wages as low as 51 cents an hour. Researchers found that 100% of workers in Bangladesh and 74% in Vietnam who were surveyed could not make ends meet with nine out of ten workers in Bangladesh saying they could not afford enough food for themselves and their families. 

“The investigation has uncovered the widespread payment of poverty wages and the impact this is having on the lives of the workers, mainly women, making the clothes Australians love to wear,” Oxfam Australia chief, Helen Szoke, said. 


Honest Product for Fashion by Futerra

To create a truly ethical and sustainable future for fashion we need to raise awareness of the fashion industry’s most pressing issues. The Consumer Goods Forum and the change agency Futerra have joined forces to investigate the cutting edge of transparency. The Honest Product Guide delves into what businesses and consumers agree is the most important topic of transparency: the impact of products themselves. More brands are disclosing their supply chain practices and talking about who made their clothes and their manufacturing practices. However, transparency alone doesn’t necessarily mean consumer loyalty. There’s a need to build trust, and that’s not only about being transparent, it’s about being honest. 


4 things brands should do for the environment instead of launching a new sustainable line from Quartz

It’s time for brands to realise that when it comes to sustainable fashion, less really is more. Fashion and footwear brands looking to decrease their environmental footprint tend to launch ‘new and improved’ sustainability lines in addition to their original collections. But these tactics, while valuable, may not always be the best way for brands looking to make real impact, from re-vamping your iconic products to be sustainable to measuring the environmental footprint of all existing products. 


The year of reckoning: How brands are faring on their 2020 sustainability goals from Glossy 

With many of their milestones set for 2020, this will be the year we see the proof in the pudding of how far brands have progressed in achieving their sustainability commitments. For the last five years, the fashion industry’s impact on the environment has been under the spotlight and many companies and brands have therefore been pushed to make collective and individual commitments to being more sustainable. Leading experts in the field are not convinced that many of these companies will reach their goals, judging by the fact that signatories to the Copenhagen Fashion Summit Circular Fashion System Commitment had only reached 21% of their targets set way back in 2017. Read on to learn how far some of the biggest brands have come in realising their ambitious sustainability plans, pledges and pacts, including Adidas, ASOS, H&M and Zara amongst others.   


Chief sustainability officers are fashion’s new influencers from Vogue Business 

As sustainability soars up the agendas of fashion’s big brands and retailers, Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs) and their influence, inside and outside of the C-Suite, is ever more important. The pressure is mounting on them to enforce change in an industry that could be culpable for accounting for a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050. This article talks to a number of CSOs in the fashion industry including Marie-Claire Daveu of Kering and Virginie Helias of P&G about what it takes to succeed as a top sustainability executive of a fashion company and the trials and tribulations that they face. 


Only two big brands do enough to fight climate change, report claims from Vogue Business 

 In October 2019Standearth, the Canadian-American advocacy group, released a new scorecard that revealed which fashion brands are actually walking their talk and are actually committed to cutting emissions enough to align with the UN Paris Climate Change Agreement, and the results are shocking: only two brands, Levi’s and American Eagle have concrete commitments that will bring them in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. While the report is not comprehensive, it does appear that fashion brands are increasingly signing up to climate agreements or carbon-neutrality pledges. 


Fashion brands are claiming to be ‘carbon neutral’ – but is it greenwashing? From Fashionista

Environmentally friendly brands such as Reformation, Everlane and Allbirds are known for their commitments to carbon neutrality ae well as their sustainability-centric marketing strategies, but with the sector’s increasing focus on sustainability, their peers in the luxury fashion sector are catching up, and quick: this month alone Gucci, Kering and Gabriela Hearst have all announced their commitment to carbon neutrality. However, reaching such an objective is not as easy as it sounds and many brands are attempting to by reducing emissions and purchasing carbon offsets, the latter of which is more controversial and argued to be largely ineffective. Read on to learn more about the criticisms of carbon offsetting, and how the fashion industry may be leaning on it to the point of greenwashing their true environmental impact. 


Fashion’s new must-have: Sustainable sourcing at scale from McKinsey

Global firm McKinsey & Company’s Chief Purchasing Officer (CPO) report for 2019 has found that sustainable sourcing at scale is the fashion industry’s top priority but also the area that is in greatest need of improvement. Many companies have committed to ambitious sustainability objectives, but if they want to deliver on them, their current practices will need to shift dramatically. For starters, the industry lacks a common language on sustainable sourcing, let alone a set of standards to measure it by. Regardless, the report found that sustainable sourcing at scale will be a must for apparel companies over the next five years because of the strong consumer demand for it, so obstacles such as these will have to be overcome quickly. Read on to learn more about the report’s findings and to access the report in full. 


Will consumers decide that buying less is better than buying ‘green’? From RetailWire

From a study published in the journal Young Consumers, research shows that people who buy less are actually happier than people who buy environmentally friendly alternatives. The investigation shows that people who indulge in “green buying“ are still looking to fulfil their materialistic desires. Whereas people who just buy less altogether have better well-being and lower psychological distress, which is not seen in the people who just buy green instead. 

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