How Social Media Is Driving Sustainability and Ethics in the Fashion Industry

The sustainable fashion industry is gathering pace as consumers start to think more about what they buy and try to lessen the impact of their purchases. Part of the reason for the growing success of sustainable and ethical fashion is social media and its ability to educate, share stories about brands, good and bad, alert consumers to the vast amount of choice that is out there, create communities and allow individuals to become key influencers as they to make their views and style choices known to their peers and the brands that they buy from.

Social activism has become a significant force for change and has had particularly notable results with respect to sustainability in the fashion industry. To date Greenpeace’s campaign to detox fashion has attracted over 400,000 supporters. Greenpeace promoted its campaign primarily through social media with an engaging Japanese anime style YouTube video. They also encourage supporters to sign up to their Facebook page and Tweet their support. The campaign has been hugely successful with a number of fashion retailers agreeing to clean up their supply chain including the world’s largest fashion retailer, Zara and the world’s largest jean manufacturer, Levi’s. Greenpeace also encouraged people to send in an Instagram photo with the name of the company that they would like to see detox next for the chance to star in their next campaign.

Labour Behind the Label is a campaigning organisation raising awareness of ethical issues in the fashion industry. Recently it called for Adidas pay US$1.8 million in severance owed to 2,800 workers from its former Indonesia supplier, PT Kizone and attracted over 50,000 supporters. Labour Behind the Label have also instigated a number of other campaigns including a call for brands to ban sandblasted denim by encouraging supporters to, amongst other things post to the brands Facebook page with a link back to the campaign website. This isn’t the first time that Adidas have found themselves a subject of the public’s disagreement expressed through social media. In June 2012, the brand withdrew its shackle trainer when, its debuton their Facebook page (ahead of its market release) prompted comments criticising the design as a symbol of slavery.

In addition to increasing awareness and driving change with regards to bad practices in the fashion industry, social media has also become a positive force in spreading news of companies that are getting in right, making a difference and have a great story to tell. Social Media includes a range of different platforms and networks which are being used to help ethical brands tell their stories. YouTube is perhaps the mostly widely used and for AW13 London Fashion Week, a series of ethical fashion videos were broadcast as part of Estethica before being posted on YouTube where they can be viewed, distributed through other social media and posted in blogs.

The significance of social media to marketers is due to the way that it can drive and accelerate social proofing. Social proof is the way that we validate what is the norm by looking at the behaviour of others. Social media greatly magnifies this process by allowing us access to a much greater number of people to validate ourselves against than most people could experience in the offline world. The strong online communities of influencers and advocates of sustainable and ethical fashion that grow on social media platforms play a key role in this social proofing.

Toms Shoes is just one interesting example of an ethical fashion brand that has managed to bridge the gap between the ethical and mainstream fashion market. Behind this success story is perhaps their ability to tell a good story using social media. Their One day without shoes Campaign encouraged users to spend one day without shoes and to tweet about their experience using the #withoutshoes hash tag. They amplified this message by partnering with AOL asked consumers to help distribute the #withoutshoes messages to over 1,000,000 before the event date and celebrity retweets gave a further boost. Tom shoes have also proved popular with fashion bloggers and on outfit sharing websites but it is difficult to tell if this is partly a cause of effect of their social media popularity, perhaps a bit of both.

Within the various social media platforms are communities made up of people with an interest in a particular subject, their impact however extends well beyond their actual community and the more they interact, the more they grow. There are a number of social media communities that are driving change in consumer habits by encouraging fashionistas to make do and mend, upcycle and wear vintage and second hand clothing. This coupled with a move away from trend led looks to individual style statements is helping to change what is considered cool. Street style photographs, fashion blogs and outfits sharing websites all help to inspire rather than dictate how people should dress and have helped to bring about a democratisation of fashion where consumers have more choice and access to many more brands than those available on the high street. Even the concept of buying less is becoming a topic of much discussion on social media as bloggers take on challenges to look stylish for a week, month or even a year just by wearing limited pieces of clothing or without buying anything new. Perhaps one of the most well known of these challenges is the Uniform Project where one girl pledged to wear a little black dress for 365 days as an exercise in sustainable fashion but there have been many more. Labour Behind the Label also runs a challenge called the six items challenge to help raise both funds and awareness of the issues surrounding ethical practices in the fashion industry.

As the world of social media and fashion 2.0 continues to expand and develop, so too will the ways in which we discover, share, become informed about and consume fashion. Hopefully social media will continue to empower consumers allowing fashion conscious individuals to embrace both style and sustainability and brands to find new models for working that ensure they are practicing and communicating their ethics in the most effective way. Social media has opened up communication and this can only be a good thing in terms of increasing transparency and choice in the fashion industry.

Fashion Industry: Ready To Face The Future

The fashion industry is very complicated. There are no standard fashion companies. They come from a wide spectrum of enterprises working in the apparel, footwear, home textiles and accessories markets.
The industry is made up of various kinds of companies like retailers, design source and selling companies, companies with their own manufacturing facilities and other companies who outsource production but retain control over parts of the production process.

Moreover, companies functioning in the high fashion segment often face a different kind of pressure as compared to those functioning with commodity fashion goods.

All of these aspects combine to make the fashion industry one of the most complicated industry. Yet, various issues can be noticeably recognized as common across the industry.

. Consumers have the power

. Supply chains are complicated

. Product launching and delivery takes time

. Companies must be able to manage a product mix

. Inventory control maintenance is important

. Impact of the latest technology on the fashion industry

. Copyright issues for fashion designs
Consumers have more power

Today’s buyers have more purchasing power then ever before and are less tolerant due to increased time pressure in today’s lifestyles.

They are more aware about environmental and human rights issues and have superior quality demands. They demand a huge variety and more frequent changes in the choices available to them. Moreover, they also expect immediate availability of perfect matching set of garments and accessories in their preferred color and size combinations in the same store.

In terms of satisfying the consumer’s needs, retailers are the first in line, but all companies in the supply chain are driven by the prerequisite to anticipate the expectations and requirements of their customers. From design to production and to the final sale, all members of the supply chain need to check that stores are stocked with the correct requirements when the consumer needs to buy!

The companies that are quick to respond to the consumer requirements are those that will remain profitable in an environment of rapid global competition and increasing material and operational costs.
Supply chains are complicated

The fashion industry is distinguished by global supply chains and complicated logistics. Labor and transportation costs often determine where production takes place and outsourcing of all or part of production is common. Companies throughout the industry have to deal with global sourcing problems and need to regularly evaluate their sourcing strategies.

Production work is often done across multiple places, which may be also located in different countries. Setting up of cutting, sewing, subcontracting and transportation, and the synchronization with raw material supply, is a very tedious process.

Product launching and delivery takes time

While working through the many pre production steps, including yarn or fabric selection, garment development, specification and sampling, the industry takes a long time to introduce a new product in the market.

Both, the complex nature of the supply chain and the global nature of production add to the industry’s long lead times. This arrangement of long time-to-market and long lead times does not correlate with the need to react immediately to changes in customers requirements.

The ever changing seasonal and trend driven nature of the industry depicts that the product life cycles are too short. Even for cyclic demands where the life cycle may continue further, there are often small changes to design, and color or size combinations may be changed. The logistics of managing the large number of styles and maintaining stock keeping units is a difficult practice.
Companies must manage a product mix

Besides long lead times, fashion producers are stressed to constantly design and develop new product lines to maintain retailers’ interest and increase consumer sales. Producers have noted that in order to maintain this speed, raised flexibility and quickness to satisfy changing customer demand, which is quicker than ever before, it is very challenging for them to judge or come out with such types of products. Gone are the days when a perfect fashion trend direction decided what consumers wore. At present, many styles are available, and with rising globalization, consumers can approach fashion news through latest media tools.

Fashion products change frequently, from hosiery and basic underwear through medium-priced high street brands, to exclusive high fashion brands. Managing brand awareness and brand loyalty is a serious task in retaining the position in the market. Margins in repetitive basic products are low, so neither a retailer nor a manufacturer can ever afford being out of stock.

Shifting to the high-end fashion sector, margins increase and sales volumes are lower, but consumers demand an ever changing range of choices, forcing the companies to produce multiple collections per year.

Many companies have to put in efforts to overcome the added challenge of arranging a mix of repetitive lines and collection-driven products, and a requirement to segment their product range and arrange the different segments in a suitable way. From design to demand planning, sourcing, production, distribution and sale, the demand of various product segments must be separately tackled if companies need to perform well.

Companies require clarity about the sector of the market they are targeting, and they have to direct their business in that way.

Inventory control management is important

Companies try to keep inventory levels at a minimum in all industries. In the fashion industry the requirement to maintain inventory levels under control is worst due to less product life cycle. In this industry, there is only one solution to sell the goods.

For collection-driven brands, the entire floor sets must be in the retail stores when these products are introduced, otherwise the chance to sell the goods is missed and obsolescence exposure is a high risk.

For the products that are frequently in demand, it is crucial that retailers and suppliers do not undergo stockouts. This part of the market does not possess the same level of brand loyalty, and customers may well be attracted to shift brands if the color and size they required is not immediately available in the stores when they need to buy.

For all companies, the balancing action of keeping inventory at the necessary level to fulfill demand, while ensuring that they are not left out with obsolete inventory, is a main problem.
Latest technological impact on fashion industry

Recently, the Burton Amp jacket, what is depicted as “the world’s first and only wearable electronic jacket with an integrated Apple iPod” was introduced.

According to some fashion experts the clothes will soon turn into accessories for your gadgets. Today new technologies are much involved with clothing and apparels that you can not judge whether you are wearing technology or whether technology is wearing you?
Besides, electronics will keep decreasing in size to such an extent where we would no longer considerably need the objects to hold them. Hence, today the fashion industry is experiencing new challenges: “intelligent textiles”, “smart clothes”, “i-wear” and “fashion engineering” and are only a few of the trends which will transform the entire fashion industry within the next decade.

Nowadays, many new materials and technologies are applied in textiles and accessories when they are still too costly or primitive for other applications. A wide variety of electronic devices can already be made into clothes and this will rise. New fabrics are already being developed to offer power generation – by using solar power, electromagnetic, thermal and mechanical means.

The combination of high-technology into textiles, e.g. modern communication or monitoring systems or the development of new materials with new applications, has just begun, but the branch has already moved in a gigantic expansion for this sector. Particular applications for the health and security sector, e.g. clothes with extern monitoring systems, already today exist in a large quantity.

Within the coming few years, we’ll see a lot more new applications in garments with latest technology. Hence, there are many designing challenges for fashion designers and engineers for making most demanding fashionable wears.

Copyright issues for fashion designs

Fashion apparel is a multi-billion dollar business that has no national boundaries due to its global existence. Designers, retailers and consumers decide their statements according to international fashion trends. In the last decade, consumer awareness of particular designers has also raised dramatically. Magazines and newspapers also cover the fashion industry as a part of their national news coverage, concentrating on the dynamic world of creative designer expressions.

The common man is very much aware about names and faces of fashion models and the designers for which they model. At present many television channels and feature films involve the fashion industry. Consumers can now identify the various types of designers and designs.

Today, many designers find inspiration from street fashion, celebrities, vintage styles and other designers’ work. Even though there are possibilities of duplication in products and designs due to easy accessibility of the latest printing and computer technology, and due to appearance of the regional or traditional designs in apparels worldwide, it can not be ignored easily. It is really a challenging task to cope with this issue globally.

The Unpredictable International Fashion Industry

Fashion is the driving force behind the fashion industry. But, fashion keeps on changing. Leading brands invests millions of dollars to study the latest fashion trends. Therefore, they usually work under high pressure to complete orders. But, for fashion loving people, this unpredictable international fashion industry is the interesting one. They feel that fashion plays a crucial role in bringing wide changes in our society. Diverse factors mold this industry. The major aspects include external influences, economic conditions and local atmosphere. Outside influences are an everyday occurrence.

Professional designers try to change things, but ultimately, the finest style will be of the most influential in the industry. Money creates a huge existence in this unpredictable international fashion industry. High profile professionals constantly search for profitable and emerging markets. Cultural and heritage factors also affect the image. The international fashion business is more of a joint industry. A great deal of factors that affects the worldwide industry are usually those that comes forth from recognizable industries. Apart from the industrial changes, often the requirements also changes. It is important to consider this factor while analyzing it from a universal perspective.

The unpredictable international fashion industry is amongst the most vital sectors, with regards to employment generation, investment, trade and income. This industry offers diverse kinds of products, volatile and unpredictable demand, long supply and inflexible procedures. But, through the need of garments are increasing considerably, still the production rate cannot go with the increasing demand. Globalization is playing a crucial role in the success of this industry worldwide. Some merchandise policies are very much in support of developing countries. Paris, Milan, London, New York are eminent as the top capitals for fashion trends. They always move forward in this industry. More importantly, it feels really soothing to discover that in spite of advancing in the digital world, this business helps us remain reminiscent and grounded.