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Limited shelf life? Why the fast fashion model is under strain

The fast fashion industry has a detrimental impact on the environment, but more people switched to online retailers when pandemic lockdowns shuttered high street stores.

The shortness of a fast fashion cycle, with as many as 52 “seasons” in a year, is the antithesis of a long-term sustainable use of resources. This is due to the cumulative impact that each production step has on our planet in terms of the water, materials, chemicals and energy use, from the cultivation of cotton and petrochemical production, to manufacturing, logistics and retail.

During the pandemic, the closure of high street stores prompted consumers to turn to online clothing retailers in greater numbers, ordering multiple sizes and returning unwanted items. Although this must be seen in the context of overall depressed sales numbers, the environmental cost of door-to-door delivery in terms of carbon emissions and packaging waste is more cause for concern.

At EOS we are setting more ambitious, yet achievable objectives for the apparel sector. We undertook a comparative analysis of companies to assess how they were positioned to reduce the environmental impact of garments and move towards more circular business models.

This will enable us to monitor the progress of our company engagements more systematically within the context of industry peers, and complement our work on supply chain human rights, focused on appropriate due diligence processes.

This article appears in our Q3 2020 Public Engagement Report.

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EOS Client Service and Business Development

Amy D’Eugenio,
Head of Client Service and Business Development, EOS