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New Sustainable Fashion Collections, Connections, CEO Agenda

Apparel collections that are less harmful to the environment are on the horizon from G-Star RAW and H&M. Meanwhile, a small Boston-based footwear company is making it easier for customers to connect with their craftsmen, and the non-profit Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) recommended sustainability priorities for senior managers in the fashion world in its first ‘CEO Agenda’ report.

Following its release of the first-ever Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Gold level certified denim in February, G-Star RAW has announced it is partnering with Jaden Smith on a sustainable denim collection for fall 2018. The details are being kept under wraps, but the collaboration seems well-suited to the budding fashion icon and environmentalist. At 19, Smith has already dabbled in modelling and acting, and has been involved with eco-friendly bottled water company JUST Water alongside his parents Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.

“I was first brought into G-Star by Pharrell [Williams], someone who I respect and admire. What they have been doing with sustainable innovation recently has been so inspiring, especially with the launch of their most sustainable jeans ever. They are at the forefront of denim sustainability, on top of the denim game,” Smith said. “It’s the same thing I’ve been trying to do with my JUST Water initiative, so to innovate in an industry where there is so much room for improvement. G- Star is a great place for me to collaborate, learn, and make a positive impact on denim and fashion.”

H&M’s upcoming Conscious Exclusive collection – its seventh edition – will add jewellery crafted from recycled silver to its repertoire. ECONYL®, a fibre made from made from nylon waste, is another material newly added to the collection, joining organic linen, organic cotton, organic silk, TENCEL™, and recycled polyester.

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Inspired by the creative home of the Swedish artists Karin and Carl Larsson, the 2018 H&M Conscious Exclusive collection comprises of womenswear clothing, lingerie, shoes and accessories that balance strength with softness. Overall, the colour palette consists of greens, white and black with touches of dusky blue and powder pink. Accessories include tulip-motif jewellery made from recycled silver, satin slip-in shoes made from recycled polyester, printed scarves in a TENCEL blend, and a delicate pouch handbag embellished with recycled plastic beads and sequins.

“It is a great thrill to introduce two new sustainable materials into the collection. By creating gorgeous lace made of ECONYL and beautiful jewellery crafted from recycled silver, we continue to stretch the boundaries of sustainable fashion,” said Ann-Sofie Johansson, a creative advisor at H&M. “Also, the work of Karin Larsson in particular took on a lot of significance, her stylised motifs, bold compositions and use of colour throughout the house were ahead of its time. She was such a strong woman and it’s that spirit that we channelled.”

Meanwhile, Boston-based made-to-order footwear company Adelante Shoe Co. has launched a new website that connects customers with their craftsman via photo and video throughout the production process, while also communicating the positive impact of their purchase. The brand’s Living Well Line pays craftsmen 75% above the market rate to ensure they and their families can access healthcare, education, nutritious food, and more.

The new website deepens the cobbler-to-customer connection with multiple touch points, including:

  • When an order is placed, the order confirmation number assigns a specific craftsman to the respective order.
  • A “Meet Your Craftsman” email is sent that introduces the customer to their craftsman.
  • A subsequent email is sent with a link to a video showing the craftsman making the customer’s shoes and delivering a personalized “thank you” directly to the customer for their purchase.
  • When the customer receives their shoes, an Adelante Shoe Co. “Our Story” booklet is included with a full craftsman bio and an explanation of the impact of the customer’s purchase.
  • Finally, every shoe is personally signed on the inside by the craftsman who made it.

“At Adelante Shoe Co. our mission is to redefine the craft shoe experience by connecting our customers directly with the craftsman whose life they are impacting,” said Peter Sacco, Adelante Founder and CEO. “I am excited that our new website further advances that mission and positions us to take the cobbler-to-customer experience to the next level.”

These initiatives are in-line with recommendations recently published by the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA). In its first CEO Agenda’ report, the non-profit details seven sustainability priorities it believes are the most crucial for fashion CEOs.

Developed in collaboration with H&M, Kering, Target, BESTSELLER, Li & Fung and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the report begins by outlining three priorities for immediate action: supply chain traceability; efficient use of water, energy and chemicals; and respectful and secure work environments. Keeping track of where and how their products are made is an ongoing challenge for brands, but overcoming these difficulties is becoming easier thanks to new funding and online resources such as the upcoming digital map of garment factories by Sourcemap and the C&A Foundation. Employment-related risks ranging from dangerous working conditions to discrimination also continue to be a struggle for companies to manage across the globe’s 60 million garment workers.

To deliver transformational change, the report recommends four further priorities: sustainable material mix; closed-loop fashion; better wage systems; and preparing for the fourth industrial revolution. GFA notes that 25% of apparel output is expected to be produced by robots by 2025, a transformation that will primarily affect poorly qualified labour in emerging countries. The report suggests the industry’s senior managers need to prepare the workforce for this disruptive impact while they embrace the opportunities presented by digitalization.

“Fashion is one of the world’s most important industries, as well as one of the most resource and manpower-intensive ones. The environmental, social and ethical challenges which face the fashion industry today aren't only a threat to the planet, but to the industry itself. This is why there is no other alternative to making sustainable development an integral part of every corporation's commercial strategy,” said Eva Kruse, CEO of the GFA.

The CEO Agenda follows GFA and The Boston Consulting Group’s Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017 report, which found that even though most fashion industry executives acknowledged the importance of sustainability, half of the industry had not yet taken any action and was hesitant about doing so. To find out why and provide guidance, GFA worked with its partners to develop its first CEO Agenda.


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