Welcome to the apocalyptic present, the result of years of ignoring climate change.
We are all guilty of it, but the fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest — and most crucified — culprits. Not for long, though. Last weekend, at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, it vowed to clean up its act with the Fashion Pact.
One Pact To Rule Them All
The Fashion Pact is a sustainable initiative spearheaded by Kering’s Chief Executive, Francois-Henri Pinault, at the request of French President, Emmanuel Macron. It was signed by a battalion of industry players, including luxury fashion giants like Kering-owned Gucci, Chanel, Hermès and Prada; online retailers Matchesfashion.com and Nordstrom; fast fashion groups Inditex and the H&M Group; and sportswear brands Nike, Adidas and Puma.
The 150-strong list goes on, but all members of the Pact will be working towards the same three environmental objectives set by Pinault: to preserve the ocean, to restore biodiversity, and to reduce global warming as much as possible. For brands, that means restructuring and investing in sustainable business practices.
But what does that mean for us consumers?
Say Goodbye To Plastic Bags
For one, you can expect your future fashion purchases to come in alternative packaging. To prevent more plastic pollution in the ocean, the Fashion Pact aims to eliminate single-use plastic packaging by 2030.
H&M has already taken a small step by charging customers for plastic bags. Stella McCartney, another of the Pact’s signee, made the switch to compostable TIPA bags in 2017, a move that other brands are sure to follow.
You’ll see more plastic in your clothes instead — recycled, that is. Gucci and Burberry have started using Econyl, a regenerable nylon made from ocean plastic. Prada plans to replace nylon with the sustainable fabric by the end of 2021. Sneakers, too, are going plastic: after selling over five million shoes made with plastic trash in 2018, Adidas is doubling the amount this year.
Hello to A Fur-Free Future
The Pact encourages supporting materials and processes that have no negative impact on ecosystems. Organic materials are in, materials made from organisms are out.
Fur is going out of fashion: many members of the Pact are swearing off it, including Versace, Burberry, Gucci, Prada, Giorgio Armani, and Calvin Klein. Chanel is even banning the use of exotic skins like crocodile, lizard, snake and stingray.
You’ll become more informed about what goes into the products you buy, as brands make their supply chains more transparent. Stella McCartney, a name synonymous with sustainable fashion, is a master at this. Her viscose supply chain, for example, is fully traceable to a Swedish forest that is neither ancient nor endangered.
Fashion Comes Full Circle
The Fashion Pact’s third goal is to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Brands are also expected to power their businesses with renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy by 2030.
This all means that a circular fashion system — where valuable resources are reused and recycled, not wasted — is on the horizon. It’s a good thing for us: with an emphasis on longevity, products will be made of higher quality and durability.
Still, the question remains: Is it enough?
Pinault previously stated that it takes the fashion industry working together to set the wheels of change in motion. Right now, the Fashion Pact represents only over 30 per cent of the industry. The Pact is also non-legal — there are no penalties for failing to meet its guidelines — so signees may not even put their money where their mouth is. Only time will tell.