Even the queen of Spain wears clothes from Zara. The Spanish brand has come a long way with the concept of fast and affordable fashion. But precisely these types of companies, such as Mango or H&M, have become the target of climate activists, who demand higher prices, reduced manufacturing volume and better wages for workers.
More sustainable fashion
"Pressure from environmentally conscious consumers will increase, although we don't perceive it yet here in Spain," says Carmen Valor, a fashion expert at Comillas University, Madrid. She believes that consumer attention will increasingly focus on recyclable garments.
"The fashion world also needs to focus less on growth and more on sustainability. But given the stiff competition, it's tough," admits Valor. The waves of bankruptcies in the sector affect all countries, including Spain.
The Spanish group Inditex, for its part, is constantly investing in storage and tracking technologies such as RFID, but influential movements such as "Fridays for Future" expect much deeper changes, which "affect the entire production and supply chain, where poor working conditions always cause disgust," says Valor.
It is clear that if textiles are to be recycled in bulk in the future, then the fabrics must be of good quality, which is rarely the case with fast fashion. Inditex wants to change this. With the Massimo Dutti brand, it is now offering a premium line at affordable prices. “But regardless of all this, the fashion recycling process is not yet technically mature,” Valor believes.
Rent clothes, another possibility
Inditex is one of the few players that has the money to be at the forefront of recycling technology, believes fashion expert José Nueno of the Spanish business school IESE: "It should also be noted that the global share of the fast fashion may be 20 percent, and the urgency to change this may seem greater than it really is."
The manufacturers with the biggest sales are sportswear suppliers such as Adidas and Nike, as well as French luxury brands Kering and LVMH. Nueno also believes that the trend of renting things instead of owning them will affect fashion this year: "Rental clothing has been used in the United States for a decade, now it is coming to Europe."
The company Pislow, based in Barcelona, offers this service. The person's fashion type is identified online through surveys and algorithms. For less than 40 euros per month, the customer is sent two pieces and one accessory that match the desired style of clothing. After four weeks, the pieces are returned to the company, which cleans them for the next customer. “Also, in many markets, like the US, tailors are back in fashion. They bring a modern twist to old clothes,” says Nueno.
Sustainability, better reputation among consumers.
The Ecoalf brand enjoys an excellent image in terms of climate protection in the Spanish textile industry. It has been committed to recycled fashion since 2009 and has a clear slogan: #becausethereisnoplanetB (because there is no planet B). Thanks to its success in its local market, Ecoalf is now expanding abroad and already has a store in Berlin. The brand, founded by Javier Goyeneche, not only participates in cleaning the oceans, but also stays away from mass marketing, such as Black Friday.
More reflection by consumers
Inditex, which signed the "Fashion Pact" for sustainability with 31 other companies a few months ago, will face great challenges in 2020. In addition to social pressure, it has to deal with the growing success of second-hand fashion: "Here always we will see new platforms, fairs, brands and lines of business", predicts Nueno.
But all new forms of business, regardless of how innovative they are, cannot, like Inditex, avoid a problem: "To be truly sustainable, we all have to consume less, and the economy must work in a circular way," he says. Value and clarification with figures: "According to world estimates, 15 million tons of clothing are discarded annually in the United States alone, twice as much as 20 years ago."
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