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In 2019 we saw a sustainable fashion progress, but was it enough? The beginning of the year allows us to look back and reflect on the progress we have made in sustainable fashion. Looking back on 2019, we’ve seen a global rise in sustainable fashion and living which has been driven forward by the many climate activist movements. But has this rise affected the overall sustainability of the fashion industry? 


The Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2019 update is a beautiful report that gives some numbers and facts about the sustainable fashion progress in 2019. Let me summarise some of the key points for you. The past year has shown a 4 point increase in the Fashion Industry’s pulse score* which is a definite improvement! However, in comparison to the 6 point increase in 2018 the measurable progress is decreasing. With the Fashion Industry growing at an annual growth of 5%, expected to grow to 102 million tonnes in volume and USD3.3 trillion in value by 2030, this decrease in sustainable progress is worrying. If the industry doesn’t make more rapid changes than it is likely that we won’t meet the UN sustainable development goals. However, this year the industry has still shown significant progress. Most key players in the industry are adopting sustainable practices and building a foundation of transparency; they are looking into more sustainable resources and integrating a more sustainable strategies and communication methods into their practices. 


The report also outlines the different phases that a company goes through when integrating sustainability. This starts with ‘building a foundation’ which is a commitment to sustainability. The follow up phase involves implementing that commitment and building initiatives. The third phase is ‘expanding to scale’, this is where the company continues in its efforts and uses much more advanced solutions in a larger scale. Most large sportswear and fashion companies remain in this stage having reached their ‘scale up’ capacity and their initiatives have no further impact. However, there is a final phase, ‘unlocking the next level’, this phase is dependent on innovation and the building of disruptive business models that use a circular fashion system and an established sustainable material mix. This phase can only happen if collaboration and innovation happens within the industry. 


As consumers we can use the power of our choice to encourage change within the industry. Statistics show that 40% of the industry is yet to to take responsibility for sustainability, so let’s keep these companies accountable for their actions and encourage them to be better. This year consumer’s voices have been heard, mentions of sustainability has increased a third faster than overall social media growth between 2015 and 2018. As awareness grows and buying habits change the industry will have to adapt and companies will need to keep track of consumer decision-making factors to ensure financial and business growth. 


The global fashion industry has so much potential and going into 2020 I believe it’s going to see restoration and transformation! It is essential that companies begin to lay down a foundation of sustainability and as consumers you have to power to demand that from your favourite brands. To catalyse global change, we also need to ask our governments and policy makers to commitment to sustainability and the investment into innovation. The industry as a whole is far from perfect but the progress it has and continues to make is so exciting. I encourage you to continue to be consistent in your consumer choices and keep building sustainable foundations in your own life. 


Let’s make 2020 count! 


*The pulse is a performance score (powered by the Higg Index), that measures and tracks the sustainability of the global fashion industry, in relation to the social and environmental impacts that it has.

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