Best Foot Forward: Could Fashion Be the Next Big Thing in Corporate Social Purpose? Leave a comment



Published 11 hours ago.
About a 3 minute read.

Image: Nudie Jeans/Instagram

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A growing breed of fashion brands has adopted social purpose to propel their business models. They are transitioning themselves and the entire industry to be a force for good in the world. And that’s fashionable.

In today’s — and even more importantly, tomorrow’s – world, businesses that
succeed will need to re-engineer their operating models, reinvent strategies,
and engage in disruptive innovation. Forward-thinking businesses are developing
a social
purpose
as the reason they exist to help navigate the turbulent times ahead – and be
part of the solution to society’s challenges.

A recent
article
in The Globe & Mail outlined how at least some successful players in the
fashion industry — an industry responsible for 10 percent of annual global
carbon emissions — are overhauling their business models, moving toward products
and production that do not exploit people and the planet.

As a contributor to the article, I pointed out that for the industry to fully
make the changes that must be made for global benefit, the work must be at the
industry level — and that it needs to have government support (see The
Sustainable and Just Industry Association
Report

for examples of how industries such as fashion can advance collectively, and the
role of governments to support them via the industry’s associations). We can
look at Vancouver-based Textile Lab for
Circularity
aiming to divert over 20,000
tonnes of apparel that goes into area landfills each year as an example of
sector collaboration. Governments also have a role to play, such as in
extending producer
responsibility
— requiring companies to take back end-of-use products for recycling and helping
set up sector-wide reverse logistics systems.

In September, Canada will host the World Circular Economy
Forum
,
which will be the first time this forum has been held in North America. Some
large Canadian apparel companies have signed the UN Fashion Industry Charter
for Climate
Action
.
This is a move in the right direction — a direction that recognizes that the
cheap system that moves apparel from the factory to the
landfill
has to change — and that the new business models being developed will disrupt
the industry for good.

Among the disruptions are the fashion retailers setting up repair and reuse
outlets.
Patagonia, for example, has its Worn Wear
hub
— where you can buy clothing that is vintage, used, recrafted or made from other
clothes. You can also attend one of their repair events. Canadian sportswear
brand Arc’teryx is thinking “resale, not
just
retail,”
as well. It offers repair services and customers can bring gear trade-ins for
discounts. And then there are the “clothing as a service” business models, where
you rent the clothes you need for as long as you need and then return them. With
the UK’s MUD
Jeans

and Sweden’s Nudie
Jeans
,
customers lease their jeans, then return them to be recycled into new denim
products in a continuous loop of material. The innovation potential in this
industry is no less then profound.

Companies such as these and others are part of the new, and growing, breed of
businesses that have adopted social purpose to propel their business models.
They are transitioning themselves and the entire industry to be a force for
good
in the world. And that’s fashionable.





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