Fashion in 2023 – where sustainability requires more than simply being sustainable


The fashion industry has always been dynamic and ever-evolving, with trends influencing what each season looks like. In recent years, sustainability has become the latest must-have trend, pushing brands to accommodate an increasingly environmentally-conscious consumer.

But for a truly sustainable future, fashion brands and retailers must look beyond their environmental impact. Lawmakers, globally are looking at the industry in terms of its social and human impact. With a constant push to promote the circular economy so that the most polluting industry generates lesser or no waste over time, stringent laws have been brought into place to hold brands accountable.

At a summit last week in Gran Canaria, European Fashion Alliance (EFA) discussed measures aimed at encouraging a more sustainable and inclusive future for the fashion industry. The EFA believes that sustainability and digital transformation, together with innovation, education and labour market measures, will be the drivers for the fashion industry to make textiles more durable, repairable, reusable and recyclable.

Moreover, the botched system of accountability within the industry leaves room for social and environmental neglect, which emphasises the need for increased focus on transparency in supply chains. Companies like FibreTrace, a pioneer in traceable fibre technology, are setting precedent in this regard. They recently launched a cloud-based mapping tool which works with any fibre, material, certification, document and data. The company has made the product ‘free of charge’ in a bid to encourage the apparel and textile industry to claim accountability and responsibility for their supply chains.

Simultaneously, there are reports being published like Zero Waste Europe’s (ZWE) Beyond Circular Fashion with advisory models for brands. ZWE has outlined the paradigm fast fashion works on, holding the industry responsible for “overconsumption, resource depletion, social exploitation, fossil-based fibres, and greenwashing.” The report marks four key criteria building on the best practices in the European market, which when applied simultaneously, could be considered key to identifying what a virtuous business model that goes beyond circularity would look like.

With an array of resources, updated guidelines on ESG, and an altered destination towards circularity, the ball is now in the court of brands, leaving them to devise a plan on how to move forward sustainably and with compliance.


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