World Environment Day: will 2022 be the end of waste in fashion

World Environment Day: will 2022 be the end of waste in fashion? 

How to fight against overproduction and waste? Fashion brands are not lacking in ingenuity to revalue

their unsold goods.

A new era is emerging in the fashion industry… Zoom, on the occasion of World Environment Day.

The new provision of the AGEC law (the Anti-waste and circular economy law), which came into force in

January 2022, prohibits the destruction of non-food unsold goods. As a result, fashion houses have no

choice but to rethink their ecosystem, upstream and downstream, to turn to circularity. Before, what

was not sold was thrown away, incinerated or deteriorated. Today, it must be revalued. Jordane Salomez,

co-founder of Actform (a consulting agency that helps brands transition to sustainable development) and

ERE Foundation (an organization that connects creatives to causes through artistic projects), shares

the keys to this fight, which is now unavoidable, against the waste of the textile industry.

Vogue: How can fashion houses avoid overproduction?

Jordane Salomez: The problem must be addressed at the source to limit the risk of unsold items. Today,

there are tools that allow us to make more accurate forecasts on the launch of new collections. Trend

forecasting (which aims to predict trends) is not new, but data processing has improved a lot in recent

years with platforms like Heuritech. We have also seen the emergence of brands that operate on a pre-order

basis, such as Réuni, or by “drop”, in limited quantities, which creates a certain attraction. This method

has been pushed to its limits by Reformation, which tests its new models on its site by launching 15

pieces. If – and only if – the product sells out in a certain amount of time, it goes back into production.

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What solutions are they already putting in place to manage these surpluses?

Once a smarter way of controlling production is found, brands still have to manage unsold stock from

previous collections, the dormant stocks, which have piled up, for some, over the years. This has led

to a variety of approaches, from pragmatic to creative to philanthropic. Comme des Garçons illustrates

these different visions with the “Black Market”, which revalorizes its stocks through customization by

adding an extra dimension to the product. In a more event-driven way, the brand also delivers its pieces

to designers who have fun reinterpreting them. Or it collaborates with artists, as it did recently with

Brett Westfall, to create an exhibition from its vintage products. The “Market Market” is an example

of a more traditional destocking, this time aimed at students and fans of the brand. Finally, some of

the stock is given to associations that will, in turn, sell it to finance their activities.

And what about recycling in all this? 

“Textile recycling is a chimera that should not become a tool to justify overproduction, waste or overconsumption.

It is often presented as a solution for the future and many start-ups, such as Recover, provide interesting

technical solutions to offer recycled textiles. However, this remains on a small scale and is not a viable

circular solution in the long term. Fiber, whether organic or synthetic, is not infinitely recyclable.

It degrades during its reuse. It is therefore necessary to start with a very high quality textile. However,

the main problem comes from the fast fashion industry, which uses mixed materials that considerably complicate

the possibilities of recycling. Also, the textile recycling sector in France, which is already struggling

to process donations from individuals, must organize itself to be able to absorb a constantly growing

volume. A company like Le Relais does a remarkable job of collection and revalorization, but the solutions

offered to them are not numerous as far as recycling is concerned. In the best of cases, denim becomes

housing insulation.

“Textile recycling, often presented as a solution for the future, is a chimera that must not become a

tool to justify overproduction, waste or overconsumption.”

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So what are the issues for tomorrow?

There is no single or perfect solution and it is not a one-size-fits-all issue. It’s important to rethink the

entire operating model, from design to production to merchandising, and to test different approaches to ultimately

produce less and better.

See also on :

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