Sustainability is no doubt a deal breaker for many of your customers, with consumers ditching fast fashion and choosing more ethical and eco-friendly approaches to shopping. In this article, Steve Cochrane from premium fashion retailer Psyche offers his advice for factoring sustainability into your business operations.
No doubt you’ve heard of fast fashion and the devastating consequences it is having on the planet. From the manufacturing process to the amount of waste clothing we send to landfill, carbon emissions and other pollutions are even considered a major contributor to climate change. That’s not to mention the issues surrounding human rights and animal cruelty that often crop up in the industry.
As business owners, the popularity of movements that encourage people to buy less could be causing you some concern. However, it’s possible (and important) to adapt to this shift in consumer attitudes by embracing sustainability.
Below, I’ll be taking you through some of the best ways you can revamp your business and give it the eco-credentials it needs to succeed.
Focus on what customers want
It is consumers that have been the driving force behind the sustainability boom, thanks to high profile campaigners such as David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg. As people try to lead greener lives by recycling and minimising food waste, they are also looking to reduce the impact our clothing has on the environment. Embracing sustainable fashion can take many forms, from only buying quality clothing that’s built to last, to developing capsule wardrobes comprised of versatile pieces, so these behaviours should be factored into your business model.
Take inspiration from premium designers
There have always been designers that are vocal about the importance of being environmentally friendly in the industry, but the surge in demand from consumers means that almost every major fashion house has had to rethink their approach to manufacturing. When deciding on stock, research the sustainability statements and strategies of different companies to determine who has the best track record, because those that are slow to adapt could be less likely to sell.
Look to new technology
Look for brands that are revolutionising their manufacturing processes with new, more eco-friendly and sustainable technologies. Levi jeans, for example, have developed water-saving methods of making denim, while other similar companies have made their processes chemical free. When it comes to materials, plenty now only use responsibly sourced cotton as well as ethically sourced leathers and down. Barbour have found that it’s possible to solve two problems at once by creating fabric out of recycled plastics in their new range.
Paper waste is another major contributor to environmental issues, and it can look bad for business if you don’t have a system for recycling it. You could reduce the amount of paper transactions your business goes through in the first place by making as many of your bill payments, orders, invoices, online banking, e-mails and faxes digital. You need to remember to buy energy-efficient computers and equipment to keep your electrical consumption low, but going digital can make a huge difference to the amount of waste that your business has to find solutions for.
To really streamline your business and make it more eco-friendly, find more ways to minimise waste than cutting down on paper. Other areas to focus on could be your energy consumption, including which lightbulbs you use, or how you deliver and package your goods. What you do behind the scenes can help to boost your sales, especially if you mention it in your marketing, so make sure your customers know about the changes you are making and why.
The tips in this guide can help you add more eco-friendly elements to your business. Once you’ve begun to practice sustainability, don’t keep it a secret: include it in your marketing to let customers know about the changes you’ve made and get a reputation for being a sustainable company.