By Howie Goldfinger, CEO, Ecorite
Although some of Ecorite’s everyday product line consists of utilitarian items such as tote bags, much of it is devoted to more lifestyle-oriented items, such as laptop bags, wine coolers, and blankets. As such, I always keep an eye out for what other style merchants and industry leaders are doing. And while ecologically sustainable products are core to Ecorite’s mission, sustainability hasn’t been a hot topic in the fashion industry; which is why two articles I read recently on the Just Style website (https://www.just-style.com/) were noteworthy to me.
The first, by news editor Beth White, related how Tommy Hilfiger, in a recent partnership move with online resale platform ThredUp, is creating a 360-degree resale program that gives shopping credits for unused clothing in customers’ closets and allows them to shop for second-hand items on ThredUp’s Resale-as-a-Service (RaaS) site.
This is a great initiative, but doesn’t the clothing have to be durable enough for people to want to buy it second-hand? Coincidentally, an Op-ed piece by Jean Hegedus, sustainability director at the LYCRA Company, addressed this issue.
“Many fashion companies are integrating garment durability into their sustainable product strategies. In addition to the physical aspects of durability, companies need to consider how to encourage desired consumer behaviours. Designing a durable garment has little sustainable impact unless its owner wears it longer”, he said.
The results of a recent panel discussion and mini survey that the LYCRA Company conducted of 45 global industry leaders indicated that in many cases people associate clothing durability as an important aspect of sustainability in their purchase decisions, but that other factors, such as price, or only needing an item of clothing for a short time, can override that consumer decision. In terms of the emotional aspects of durability and how they’re perceived in the marketplace, use of quality fabrics, and timeless style are also big factors in how sustainable a garment is perceived to be. Physical aspects, such as a material’s tendency to tear and retain color were also deemed important but not quite as important as the prior two factors.
It must be recognized in by at least some that building more sustainability into clothing items runs counter to the culture of frequent clothing replacement that also guide clothing purchases. But it is good to see that some efforts at recycling clothing and making it more sustainable are gaining traction in the market.