Yael Aflalo raises the question: Will COVID-19 accelerate the transition to a sustainable fashion industry?
UNIDO- United Nations Industrial Development Organization shares the question and goes on to answer.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic shutdowns have created unprecedented challenges for the fashion industry, including declining consumer spending and disrupted supply chains. This situation may accelerate the shift to greener, more sustainable supply chains, which will not only be decisive for businesses, but also impact the future of the fashion industry as a whole.
In 2019, McKinsey identified sustainability as one of the key priorities for the fashion industry. Improving the sourcing of raw materials with better recycling processes, reducing water consumption, and substituting hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives, are among the measures that can cut the environmental footprint of fashion and help the industry to survive in the new business scenario.
The economic value of the fashion industry.
For this article, the term “fashion industry” includes a variety of stakeholders along the value chain and refers to the production of clothing, leather and footwear made from textiles and related goods, and extending from the production of raw materials and the design and manufacturing of garments, textile and leather, accessories and footwear, to their distribution, consumption and disposal (UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, May 2020). The fashion industry business model is principally driven by the seasonality of fashion goods, and this has steered production and affected the life cycle of fashion goods over decades.
The fashion industry has created one of the largest consumer goods markets, with highly sophisticated value chains of significant economic importance. Worldwide, household purchases of fashion goods may be estimated at US$1.7bn at 2018 consumer prices, based on data from the OECD and UNStat. In OECD countries, where detailed figures are available, fashion is the second largest market for consumer goods after food and drinks.
Moreover, the fashion industry plays a central role in the creation of income and jobs, employing over 60 million people worldwide, and in some countries, the sector is a vital contributor to national industrial output and domestic value added.