Factors like climate change and the supply chain crisis have accelerated consumer demand for sustainable products. From drugstore beauty products to luxury handbags, consumers want brands to do better. One Gartner report found that the COVID-19 pandemic has left consumers more concerned about sustainability, ethics and production of goods. Google searches for “sustainable fashion” rose by 25% in the year 2020. And searches for “sustainable jewelry” rose by 75% during the same period.
Despite evolving consumer behavior, the many fashion and luxury brands have been slow to keep up. A 2020 McKinsey report showed that greenhouse gas emissions from the fashion industry are actually rising by a third — which means it is time to turn empty talk around sustainability into urgent action.
In short, sustainability is no longer simply a buzzword. Sustainability is the baseline standard for any company hoping to maintain relevance among the rising generation of global consumers. So, how are luxury brands answering the call to change?
Here are the top sustainability trends from 2021 that will continue on in 2022.
Upcycling has jumped from DIY blogs to the runway, with fashion houses like Ronald van der Kemp repurposing everything from old lampshades to vintage American flags. Though upcycling is often driven by a restrictive budget, today’s high-end brands are motivated by sustainability.
In a world where 99% of textiles and clothing go to waste, upcycling is all but essential. Designer Stella McCartney highlighted the fact that clothing waste from 2021-2025 will weigh as much as the world’s population.
Fortunately, fashion houses like Miu Miu, Prada, and Maison Margiela are working to combat this waste by reworking vintage collections and transforming them into modern looks. And as consumer awareness of waste continues to grow, upcycling is sure to be a selling point.
Sites like ThredUp and Poshmark have helped the resale market grow exponentially over the past few years. In fact, sales are expected to reach $77 billion by 2025. And though some luxury brands initially sat this trend out, many are finally coming around.
Kering, the company that owns luxury brands like Balenciaga and Gucci, recently marked a turn in the tides by investing in Vestiaire Collective, a French resale platform for high-end goods. Brands like Eileen Fisher are following suit, offering a take-back program that turns old clothing pieces into brand new designs.
Many brands are realizing that whether they climb aboard or not, the luxury resale trend is here to stay. McKinsey consulting firm calls luxury resale “the future of fashion,” pointing out that high-end goods are a natural fit for the secondhand market, since the products are well-made and built to last.
As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates the growth of the eCommerce industry, eco-friendly packaging has become more important than ever. A recent McKinsey study found that a growing number of consumers expect more brands to use compostable or recyclable packaging even if it results in a higher price tag.
In fact, 60-70% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging. And more than 60% say they would go out of their way to buy products packaged in eco-friendly materials.
Hermès is leading the trend with its iconic, resourceful orange box made from eco-friendly, 100% recycled materials and water-based ink. Likewise, designer Anya Hindmarch has made waves in the eco-fashion movement with her “I’m NOT a plastic bag” tote — a soft, luxurious bag made from recycled water bottles.
Retailers like H&M have been quick to embrace and market “conscious” clothing collections, marrying affordability and sustainability. The company puts a green tag on products made with at least 50% sustainable materials. Clearly labeling eco-friendly products makes sense for fast-fashion and luxury brands.
Luxury eCommerce retailers like Selfridges are investing more energy in showcasing their sustainability efforts, after discovering 84% of their customers believe the social and environmental impact of their purchases is important.
Other elite luxury brands like Chanel and Prada have demonstrated their commitment to sustainability by signing The Fashion Pact, a global coalition of fashion brands committed to stop global warming and restore the environment.
The rise in upcycling, reselling and recycling indicates a greater overall trend in the sustainability movement: circular fashion. Circular fashion is the practice of maximizing resources and reducing waste in the clothing production process.
Fashion designer Stella McCartney declared on her website, “We believe that the future of fashion is circular — it will be restorative and regenerative by design and the clothes we love never end up as waste.”
Iconic brands like Patagonia and Levi’s are also pioneering the circular fashion movement, establishing their own secondhand marketplaces and even offering trade-in or repair services for customers.
Transparency and Authenticity
Though Millenial and Gen Z consumers are more likely to support eco-friendly brands, they probably will not be eager to throw money at any luxury brand leveraging sustainability buzzwords. Transparency and authenticity is key for legacy brands looking to pivot their narrative.
Luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. has been criticized in the past for contributing to conflicts in African communities. Today, the jeweler sources only from responsible mining companies and has a zero-tolerance policy for countries that violate human rights.
As the first global luxury jeweler to divulge sourcing details, Tiffany & Co. paved the way for greater industry transparency.
Joining the Luxury Sustainability Movement
The luxury sustainability movement is well underway, with younger consumers driving the demand for second hand resale, eco-conscious manufacturing, upcycling, recycling and more. Luxury eCommerce brands should embrace the trend with transparency and authenticity, rather than running empty sustainability marketing campaigns.
Scalefast is helping luxury brands all over the world take steps toward sustainability with our speciality stores and employee stores. Our enterprise commerce platform makes it easier than ever for eCommerce brands to resell discontinued merchandise or host liquidation sales events, solving pain points related to cybersecurity, payment processing, fraud protection, and more. Contact Scalefast today to learn more.