Limiting fashion’s resource consumption is a crucial step ahead

Copenhagen Fashion Week AW23 Black Friday

Today marks Black Friday, an event that rolls out aggressive sales campaigns and drives consumerism.

As the annual meeting COP27 ended on overtime last Sunday (November 20th) and the Black Friday campaigns rolled out just one day after, our focus have rapidly shifted from combating climate change to aggressive sales campaigns. While COP27 should spark actions for the global community to accelerate the vital work to decarbonize, industry players within the fashion industry are yet again engaging in Black Friday campaigns and reinforcing an unsustainable consumer culture. This puts us all on a trajectory that were we are deemed to fail on our commitment to the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming by 1.5 degrees. We as an industry must commit to lower our emissions drastically, and to limit our resource consumption is a crucial step ahead.

During the two-week period of COP27 fashion organisations, leaders and journalist have engaged in the climate debate to discuss the fashion industry’s current reality and its future actions. Reporting on our industry’s climate impact and climate injustice, Sustainability Writer Rachel Deeley at Business of Fashion acknowledged that ”Extreme weather, soaring temperatures and rising sea levels threaten raw material production, labour rights and supply chain stability” as fashion’s biggest manufacturing hubs, including including Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are the some of world’s most climate vulnerable countries. Furthermore, in a speech at COP27 the climate activist and UN advisor Sophia Kianni highlighted the fact that fast fashion industry has become part of the fossil fuel industry as synthetic material derived from oil are extensively used and maintains prevalent as consumer culture thrives in social media. Meanwhile, discussing the well-needed actions ahead, three events organised by Global Fashion Agenda brought together a range of industry experts in Sharm El Sheikh to address critical industry topics including: the route of travel for the fashion industry to become net positive, the cross-sectoral alliances to decarbonise the fashion value chain and the actions needed to foster circular systems.

While switching to renewable energy sources or to invest in carbon in-setting in the supply chain are actions brands can implement to directly reduce their emissions, to reduce its resource use and production volume remains a crucial step to secure decarbonisation. In fact, projections in the report ‘Fashion on Climate: How the fashion industry can Urgently act to reduce its Green House Gas emissions’ found it crucial for brands to “fundamentally refine business models and current imperatives of economic growth and rising consumerism’ in order for the industry to stay on the 1.5-degree pathway. As such, fashion brands’ commitment to their climate strategies risks being contradictory as Black Friday campaigns and aggressive sales sparks extensive consumption patterns and consumerism.

Following such recommendations, among others, CPHFW’s Sustainability Requirements set out various actions points that addresses issues overconsumption and overproduction, and nudge brands to proactively engage with their consumers in driving responsible consumption patterns. These include, to name a few, action points such as “Our business model challenges resource consumption through de-coupling or de- growth” and “We offer on-demand production to eliminate overstock”. Alongside, the action point “We actively discourage price reductions” is an action point where Black Friday campaigns and similar aggressive sales campaigns should be fully excluded. Read more about CPHFW’s Sustainability Requirements and our ambitions to accelerate sustainability efforts in the fashion industry here.

CPHFW strongly believes brands have a big responsibility to combat fashion’s high-speed consumer culture by rejecting immense price reductions and aggressive sales campaigns such as Black Friday. For brands to further their actions on reducing their carbon emission and limiting their resource use, some recommendations of solution providers are listed below!

  • CHOOOSE: WeCHOOOSE enables businesses to easily calculate, track and offset carbon footprints by supporting high-impact climate projects.
  • create2STAY: Gives small, medium or large businesses easy access to the re-commerce market. Create2STAY is a plugin, white label, re-commerce platform fully integrated into Shopify, Magento and Commerce Cloud and navigates logistics, imagery, cleaning, repair and recycling.
  • CIRCO: Supports companies to initiate efforts towards a circular economy using design thinking methods and offers workshops and classes to companies and design professionals.
  • Upcycle Design School: On a mission to inspire and educate people on upcycling and repurposed design and how to do it on a larger scale, they offer free online courses and a free guide for Finding Upcycled Materials available for download.