G7 Leaders will be joined in Biarritz, France by more than 20 fashion retailers and brands, including the owner of Kering (Gucci, Boucheron, YSL etc), Chanel, Armani, Burberry, Nordstrom, H&M and Inditex, for a key fashion moment – a global pact to fight the climate crisis and protect biodiversity and the oceans.
The deal to be concluded in Biarritz at the weekend comes as the global fashion industry faces an unprecedented backlash from young people concerned that it is contributing more to climate change than the aeronautical and shipping industries combined. Without action, the industry could account for a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050.
The issue is soaring up the agenda, with models on the catwalk at London fashion week next month set on a collision course with campaigners from Extinction Rebellion who want the event scrapped in the face of the climate emergency.
Growing numbers of young people are turning away from fast fashion towards reuse and resale sites such as Depop in the UK, Thredup and The RealReal in the US and YCloset in China. The secondhand market is expected to overtake fast fashion in the next few years and be 50% bigger than it by 2028, according to a report by market analysts GlobalData for Thredup.
The surge in environmental concern is forcing brands to accelerate sustainability plans and club together to bring about change not only in stores but with the factories and suppliers they share around the world.
Last month Inditex, the world’s third-largest apparel company, announced that all of its collections would be made from 100% sustainable fabrics before 2025
The committee’s report published in February named and shamed brands such as Boohoo, JD Sports, Sports Direct and TK Maxx, which had been slow to take action: failing to use sustainable cotton, collect used clothing or sign up to the government-backed sustainable clothing action plan (Scap).
Marie-Claire Daveu, chief sustainability officer at Kering said the international fashion pact would enable global retailers to share best practice and ideas and combine their buying power to push for change right back to the agricultural practices involved in supplying raw materials.
“Many companies have taken the initiative but if they do things on their own it has less impact on the ground than if they work together,” said Daveu. She said the group could combine efforts to find solutions to problems such as effective recycling of textiles and fibres for garments that can’t be worn again.
“More and more customers and clients, generation Z and millennials, are expecting brands to act,” she said. “Listed companies also find more and more investors and financial analysts are taking factors like climate change into account on risk management. Chief executives and designers are also citizens of the world and very conscious that they have an important role to play in one of the most important issues of our century.” “It’s not an option, it’s now a duty of running a global company.”
“It’s great what Macron is doing,” said one big retailer who has held back from signing up to the G7 pact, referring to the fact that it was the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who asked Kering’s CEO, François-Henri Pinault, to help pull together the G7 fashion industry deal. “But our responsibility is not to just sign something and the job is done. It is fine to say stuff but actually doing stuff is what’s important. Resources can be consumed by meetings. Let’s keep the balance on delivering.”
LVMH, France’s most valuable company and largest luxury group and the owner of brands like Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, declined to participate.
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