The European Union’s introduction of The Green Deal in 2020 has been followed by the European Commission’s sharpened focus on the fashion industry. With the goal of cutting the region’s greenhouse emissions to net-zero by 2050, proving that economies can flourish without an increase in resource usage, Europe is determined to commit to a circular economy. This has, of course, a major impact on European fashion. The roadmap introduced in late March this year, proposes fundamental transformation initiatives to make companies more accountable for all steps in the product life cycle.
It is not only the design- and sourcing process that will be affected, but also the fundamental communication and marketing strategies used to inform consumers or the more or less sustainable products released to market. With a proposed ban on “greenwashing” and implementation of so-called digital product passports, consumers will have more information on the precise sustainability credentials of the items purchased. Transparency is the main focus here, and quite neatly follows the increased consumer demand of recent years for purely sustainable garments.
So what does this mean for European luxury? On the notion that luxury is made to last, brands still need a thorough review of each step in the supply chain, distribution processes alongside post-purchase handling. Procedures such as repairing defect or faulty products should be a priority, instead of simply replacing the item. This is of course also an incentive to produce products that stand the test of time, to diminish the costs of putting out fires and managing discontent customers. In the end, quality is a main pillar when it comes to luxury goods and consumers expect nothing less.
The current framework is not yet translated into a concrete regulation, not to mention implementation in national legal systems. Such a process will take years. But, if European brands want to continue to flourish, action and consideration on the future of fashion need to start now. If circularity is not the keyword when the dust sets, European fashion risks falling way behind.
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