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Insights from Latest British Fashion Council Report: A Tech-Infused Roadmap to Fashion Sustainability

by Ineke Lavers

It's no secret that our fashion habits have taken a toll on the environment. The most recent report from the Institute of Positive Fashion’s (IPF) 'Circular Fashion Ecosystem Project', in partnership with GreenWith Studio, sheds light on key solutions: technology, care, and repair.

1. Embracing Technology

The report underscores the intersection of fashion and technology as a promising path for change. Integrating technology into garment manufacturing offers the potential to extend care and maintenance throughout an item's lifecycle. 

One innovative idea is to use QR codes on clothing labels. These digital codes provide buyers with information on how to care for their clothing, including specific care instructions, repair tips, and recycling guidelines. Brands can also use technology to share a garment's journey, backed by data collected from the supply chain.

Cutting-edge technology like RFID and NFC can also enhance clothing care. RFID tags and NFC technology allow washing machines to detect the best washing methods for each garment, providing a more informed choice for consumers and encouraging positive behavioral changes.

2. Sustainable Business Models

To combat overconsumption, the report emphasizes the need for a shift from linear to circular business models. 

The current model of Manufacturing — Retail — Users — Landfill/Incineration contributes to massive waste, particularly in fashion. The IPF report suggests redirecting garments back into the production-consumption cycle. 

This requires advanced sorting facilities to manage large-scale garment flow, enabling items to be reused, recycled, or repurposed.

While this circular approach may not be immediately economically attractive to manufacturers, the report highlights the importance of multi-sector collaboration to explore the economic feasibility of regenerative recycling. The focus shifts from profit to an ecosystem of sharing and giving back.

3. Gen-Z's Influence

Gen-Z plays a pivotal role in the shift towards sustainable fashion. 

With platforms like Depop and Vinted, buying second-hand is a natural choice for this generation. A recent eBay recommerce report revealed that 80% of second-hand buyers and 1 in 3 sellers are Gen-Z, driving a cultural change in their fashion choices. 

Their activism and social awareness amplify the value of clothing as a symbol of sustainability and engagement with a circular economy.

From consumption rates to emotional attachment, the report targets challenges across the fashion lifecycle. 

By rallying diverse actors, from production to disposal, the report remains optimistic about the potential for technology, circular models, and Gen-Z to drive positive change in the fashion industry.

Fashion's historical role as a vehicle for cultural transformation positions it to lead a revolution towards sustainable practices. Embracing this shift is pivotal for fashion's own transformation and contribution to a more sustainable future.

Edited by Emily Duff

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