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Apparel Retail Practices in Terms of Sustainability
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Apparel Retail Practices in Terms of Sustainability

Written by: Fibre2Fashion

Apparel retail industry was worth almost $1025.9 billion in 2008. It was expected to grow by leaps and bounds and reach around $1184.1 billion within a few years. Researchers are confident of it achieving this target because consumer spending has increased manifold. Today, consumers want more than mere clothing. They are willing to spend any amount of money to have a good standard of living.


Everybody understands the impact of fashion and textiles on the environment. Sustainable fashion has become the need of the hour! Consumers expect environment friendly measures in this direction from entrepreneurs. They are willing to spend a few bucks extra without any hesitation for this cause. Apparel retailers realize this fact and are taking efforts in this direction. Almost 66 percent of total retailers have already started working in this direction.


Major apparel retailers like GAP Inc., Marks and Spencer, Target, Walmart stores, and others are a few of the big names in this industry. They have played a considerable role in this direction. Various associations have been formed wherein strategies (that ought to be taken to encourage environment friendly trade) is formed. Retailers prefer to be associated with such organizations. It gives a boost to their brand image.

Surveys reveal that among the top 100 retailers, 83 indulge in eco friendly practices and 62 retailers have increased their investment in it. They indulge in the sale of sustainable products in order to spread awareness about this concept among commoners. One can easily get recycled clothes and apparels in these retail shops. Fabrics and textiles made from organic raw materials can also be easily obtained.


Marks and Spencer recently launched a suit that it claims to be the world's most sustainable suit. This suit is made as environment friendly as possible. It is made from Australian organic wool and recycled polyester. The raw material used in its making is GOTS approved wherever possible. Even the zips and buttons used in the suit are either recycled or reused. At present, only 500 of such suits are produced. The numbers may increase later on!

Waste management is a sustainable practice. Modern apparel retailers are quickly adopting this tactic in their daily activities. It prevents the resources of the Earth and also helps in enhancing profit. Reducing packaging waste is also a part of this strategy. Retailers can also save on the overall expenditures incurred by the implementation of this plan. Marks and Spencer has successfully achieved 20 percent reduction in its average packaging weight owing to its sustainability efforts.


Retailers can see to it that their logistics are environment friendly. They can see to it that they make use of cargo ships and rails for transportation wherever possible. This is eco friendly as compared to trucks or air planes. Though it takes more time to reach, it does not emit poisonous gases into the atmosphere in a large quantity. Walmart is well known for its sustainability initiative.


The responsibilities of an apparel retailer are not limited to merely practicing sustainability all by itself. It also includes spreading awareness about this issue to consumers. This can be in the form of encouraging the sale of organic clothing or eco friendly clothing. Retailers can offer discounts on the purchase of sustainable and eco friendly fabric. American Apparel has worked in this direction by collaborating with Sustainable Cotton Project in 2008.


Walmart stores, one of the biggest retail stores of the world, published its 2012 Global Responsibility Report. It has claimed to achieve an 80 percent reduction in its overall waste. It has used 1.1 billion KWH of renewable energy in the last one year and is planning to make use of renewable energy in all its projects. The company believes that by saving on packaging, fuel, or electricity, they save money!


Retailers should not hesitate from practicing sustainability. Such practices help in creating a positive impression about the retailer in public eyes. The retailer can also use this in its Public Relation (PR) attempts as a strong, valid point. Besides, the retailer undertaking these steps may also be eligible for tax reduction in certain areas. This is because various governments also try to promote sustainable practices among retailers.

Despite these benefits, sustainable practices and its encouragement is only limited to a few retailers. Small time apparel retailers hesitate from undertaking this step. It might be because of the initial cost involved in this effort. Though major apparel retailers are shifting their focus in this direction gradually, things need to speed up a bit. This is especially true when a lot of harm is already done on the environment.

Apparel retailers can get themselves certified in order to prove that they do their best to practice sustainability. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), BlueSign, Cradle to Cradle (C2C), Oeko-Tex, Greenguard, etc. are some of the major certifications that retailers prefer to associate their names with! Marks and Spencer is BlueSign verified. Walmart has various sustainability certifications to its credit.


References:


  1. Ivend.com
  2. Greenbiz.com
  3. Indianexpress.com
  4. Sustainablefoodsupply.co.uk
  5. Americanapparel.net
  6. Forbes.com
  7. Walmartstores.com


Image Courtesy:


  1. Businessandleadership.com
  2. Locusresearch.com
  3. Smcsbdcgreen.org
  4. Bobcaseyblog.com

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