Dr Helen Goworek examines sustainable fashion, and the pragmatic strategies retailers could implement to improve the sustainability impact of clothing.
Clothing retailers have a significant role to play in relation to sustainable clothing and are uniquely positioned to be able to influence and improve consumers’ approach to the sustainability of clothing.
There is potential for more retailers of all sizes to offer sustainable clothing ranges, with the potential advantages of corresponding benefits, including reduced operating costs, enhanced brand image and new marketing opportunities.
A much cited barrier to the implementation of sustainable practices by retailers is the perception of a conflict with companies’ profitability However there are ethical strategies compatible with financial strategies, that take into account the ‘triple bottom line’, a phrase coined by John Elkington (2004) to acknowledge the significance of environmental and social concerns to businesses, in addition to financial sustainability.
Retailers could be considered to have environmental and social responsibilities throughout the lifecycle of clothing, including the post-purchase stage, rather than just to the point of purchase, and consequently have a significant opportunity to influence consumers’ sustainability impacts when laundering, repairing and disposing of clothes.
Below I’ve identified 6 possible strategies that could be applied by clothing retailer to help save the planet.
6 of the best techniques to improve sustainability
Retailers have a selection of techniques available to them to use in policy and practice to improve sustainability impacts: