Fibre2Fashion: The pace of sustainability progress in fashion industry has slowed by a third in the past year, says the 2019 update of Pulse of the Fashion Industry, an annual assessment of the industry’s environmental and social performance in terms of the Pulse Score. It is also not moving fast enough to counterbalance the harmful impact of the industry’s rapid growth.
Unless the current trend of the Pulse Score improves, fashion will continue to be a net contributor to climate change, increasing the risk that the Paris Agreement’s objective of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees celsius during the remainder of this century will not be achieved.
The update by Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) has stated that Pulse Score has increased by four points in 2019, from 38 to 42 (out of 100). In 2018, it increased by six points, so the speed of measurable progress in the past year has decreased by a third.
“These latest findings emphasise the dire need for the whole industry to join the race and accelerate change now. Scaling existing solutions will depend on leadership from brands. However, some transformational changes will take cooperation among policy makers and stakeholders across the entire value chain,” Morten Lehmann, chief sustainability officer at Global Fashion Agenda, said.
The improvement was due mainly to rapid progress among brands that are in the early stages of their sustainability journey and have put in place foundational measures in strategy, governance and target setting. Meanwhile, progress, as reflected in the Pulse Score, has slowed among larger companies that must figure out how to scale disruptive business models and harness innovative technologies. However, some larger companies have implemented promising sustainable practices that the Pulse Score does not currently measure, so their impact is not included in the score.
“It is very encouraging to finally see changing momentum in consumer sentiment. Our representative consumer research shows sustainability is shifting from a secondary consideration to a primary decision driver. Over a third of surveyed consumers have already actively switched from their preferred brand to another because it credibly stands for positive environmental and/or social practices,” Sebastian Boger, a partner at BCG, explained.
Awareness of environmental and social practices is growing among consumers. This year’s update features a detailed consumer insights survey drawn from an extensive representative consumer survey in five countries. More than a third of surveyed consumers reported they have switched from their preferred brand to another for reasons related to responsible practices. However, the 2019 data revealed that sustainability is still far from being a key consideration in purchasing decisions. Therefore, it is up to fashion leaders to drive large-scale impact and influence consumer perceptions.
“To achieve the transformational change required, we must collaborate and make meaningful commitments to end our industry’s damaging practices. We need to scale our efforts to assess impacts through a common framework and increase improvements in sustainability performance globally,” Amina Razvi, interim executive director at SAC, said.