‘Fashion, the epitome of consumerism, is also its stealthiest critic. ‘ (Wilson 2004:383)
Long live luxury. Long live craftmanship, slowness and a respect for the environment…
Things that many consumers year for but constantly fail to do. To show respect for our enviroment while at the same time living life like we’ve been doing all along. All to often I ponder about if man is really ready to change without any sort of egoistic persuasion. A persuasion that lies in the benefit of the consumer first and foremostly and not for other people. Something that grabs the attention of attending the needs of maintaining ones self image, ones style, ones own appearances. Because I find it very often we seem to discuss the need to be sustainable and not really , how can i say this ? Simply somehow giving up, giving in and in fact – compromising.
Why is it so hard to compromise for one self or for another? Since the age of time man has never been really comfortable with this kind of matter. We talk about the importance of it but have a hard time going through lenghts to achieve it. So could the anwser lie within practising alternate marketing strategies? Since we seem to market so much in favor to ‘destroy’ this world. Or should we just continue to talk about change, to write about it , to wine about it and to simply continue to ignore it?
As I’ve said above – I’ve been contemplating about this matter, a lot. And I’ve come to the conclusion that money is a very important factor in creating actual change. What we need in order to change is to provide information, action, engagement and persistent openness for the lay person as tools. But the truth is that all those things are hard to sustain in the process if there isn’t any money. -Everybody wants money, somehow, a little more or just a lot. We need it as it is the primary monetary global value in every society. Money talks and this will be the point I use to further offer an idea about why sustainable companies should think about implementing the issue and goal of brand equity in their marketing strategies.
Saying this I will acknowledge how blunt and rude this may sound but it is my theory that employees and companies are interested in changing their business models to fit standards needed to save this world. However, this is not happening enough or at all as most executives want to see promises of cashflows. Until there is no promise of businesses making almost or just the same amount of money by implementing and restructuring their linear business models to a circular one. Change will not and cannot happen. What happens instead is a blame game between companies, consumers and governments’. If the consumers can’t help but shop the latest item, and the companies can’t provide their costumers effeciently to meet their quarter-sales goals this all of a sudden becomes a responsibility of the government. Not to say that legislations would be bad and government officials shouldn’t regulate the way we consume. But even the sumptuary laws of 17th century didn’t hold so we can’t put all the responsibilites on the governments. Instead we have to see our environmental problems as co-created despite ideology or personal view.
But then you wonder, what is then the solution? Do I even have ideas? Yes I do. Perhaps not the best, not as finalized as I’d hope but at least it’s a starter. First I would like to see eco-friendly small businesses stop branding themselves as eco-eco-eco. And instead opt for changing the way they communicate with and not to their consumers. The lay men is not interested in what’s eco if it isn’t informed about what eco is, and also linen and natural life doesn’t usually sell well. People are interested in what is new, what is hot and what is different. This can be seen in the luxury sector where luxury management differs from traditional marketing techniques. Where the importance of storytelling, heritage and quality plays a huge role. For these kinds of companies they should ask themselves what their product can offer besides being sustainable to their consumer and also play with popular cultural symbols and desires often used in luxury management. How can this garment feel eco-friendly, yet stylish and exiting?
Moving on to the next issue I would like to address, the fashion PR agencies. They don’t usually seem to incorporate CSR thinking within the marketing strategies of their clients. It should be a priority for them to implement this notion and sell it in the best way. This would develop future strong sustainable brands and other existing (fashion) companies, as when they see success, they will follow. A great example of this is the luxury conglomerate Kering who are well settled into this matter and are using transparency which could also be counted as a way to position themselves (point blank a strategy). And still meet demands of shareholder value. In addition to this I would like to conclude with the second hand industry. I would like to see a huge marketing reformation as well as a re-organization of second-hand products in how they’re being ranked and distributed. Vintage and second-hand is not enough of a dichotomy. There needs to be more segmentation which can be made by looking at how product paradigm practices work. Focusing on branding and re-design of products. Symbols, logo, how it is packaged in a creative way would help boost sales. Paving the way for second-hand to become a new competitive business and no longer being seen as a third alternative to shop. But instead being considered the first alternative to ready-to-wear.
Lastly I would like to comment on the implementation of vertical integration as an internal strategy which could be used within fast fashion companies and not only luxury ones, to embrace CSR. By being able to control distribution and production it could lessen costs, open up for technological innovations and furthermore entail that there’s less outsourcing and less over-production. Which with other words would mean to produce what needs to be produced and still make big money. It is also always important to take working conditions into consideration and making sure that workers well-being is on top which would be the case of this strategy.
Now, let’s opt for the circular economy, with great action and change there is still the same money to be made. Perhaps even more, and with the promise of being friendlier.
Text : Rosa Cruz