Stylist Mary Fellowes, BFC Coauthor ‘Garment Longevity’ White Paper
Stylist Mary Fellowes, together with the British Fashion Council and consulting organizations, recently published a sustainable fashion white paper on garment longevity.
Titled “Empowering Citizens for Garment Longevity,” the insights, developed alongside BFC’s Institute of Positive Fashion, Vanish and GreenWith Studio (which Fellowes launched in 2021), span the state of fashion circularity, citizen behavior and the role of technology and data.
For GreenWith Studio, Fellowes works with outsourced expertise to prescribe agile solutions and innovations to SMEs on a revenue-shared basis.
Citing the learnings throughout her 25-year editorial career, Fellowes said: “If you work backward, you can almost change this problem from helping change the consumer mindset and behavior. That demand then puts pressure on the brands. We all know that brands and manufacturers follow the money. And if the money and demand changes, they will follow.”
For similar money-motivated reasons, her styling career was met with obstacles in getting sustainable fashion firmly fixed on the red carpet. Side-swiping industry politics and deeply entrenched supply chain systems, this latest white paper aims to be the knowledge bridge post-credit card swipe (where an estimated 30 percent of a garment’s impact occurs during consumer use, including laundering).
The report presents three months of research findings. It is part of “Building the Roadmap for Change” which is the second phase of BFC’s flagship Circular Fashion Ecosystem Project, of which Vanish was a founding data partner.
Vanish commissioned an independent targeted body of research from leading players such as YouGov and Ipsos to investigate laundering and garment care behaviors among consumers in the U.K. The research found that people are reevaluating how they live in a post-COVID-19 world. Although audiences have “careful and practiced routines,” the opportunity for change is supported by the fact that 84 percent of respondents in 2022 agree it makes “more sense” to take care of clothes over buying new, especially in a cost-of-living crisis.
Echoing previous points, the report calls for the industry to embrace digitalization, including the use of QR codes, RFID and the like, for compliance with the European Union’s Digital Product Passport and Extended Producer Responsibility scheme. With the 2030 deadline for digital passports fast approaching, the report said reasons preventing adoption include “lack of resources” and integration knowledge.
QR codes grew 96 percent amid the pandemic’s touchless social codes, according to a 2021 report from Blue Bite, on the state of QR. The firm has built QR incentives for Decathlon, L’Oréal, Bulgari and more.
Fellowes paints technology as “the way out” of doom-and-gloom thinking. Eon, “Clevercare” by Ginetex, Cicon and Avery Dennison were among the digital identity solutions profiled. Clevercare by Ginetex uses enterprise software and data sharing on a brand’s website to advise precise garment care.
“The digital product passport will critically enable any brand or manufacturer that has been involved in that piece of product, garment or accessory, to gain valuable data that will drive the next iteration of its design,” Fellowes said.
But a QR alone won’t cut it. “Brands see care labels as a bit of a joke, citizens often ignore them, so brands have to really adapt designs so clothes can’t be damaged as easily,” Lewis Shuler, head of innovation at Alpine Group, said in the report. “We need to be careful of greenwashing — making garments last longer through QR code info. Don’t let it just turn into a marketing story. The QR code needs to say where it came from and what it is made of, not only just how to take care of it.”
BFC’s Institute of Positive Fashion published an annual progress report in November and anticipates events in the year ahead.
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