Will more consumers buy expensive green products even though the economics of retailing have fundamentally changed?
Stella McCartney, a fashion pioneer in the sustainable movement, isn’t so sure.
“I…worry that the recession makes people care less and focus on lower prices, with less concern on where and how things are made,” she said. “The eco-fashion subject — or any subject in general — is always in danger of becoming a trend and a one-off. Everyone on this planet needs to keep an interest in it, and there is a vested interest.”
The movement received what many analysts said was a significant boost when Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said last week it will create an environmental labeling program to measure the social and ecological impact of products. The world’s largest retailer will require all 100,000 suppliers, who will have to absorb costs of the initiative, to answer a 15-item questionnaire focusing on energy and climate, material efficiency and natural resources to create a comprehensive sustainability index. The effort, which might produce efficiencies that eventually lower costs, could take five years or more.
Mike Duke, president and chief executive officer, said the initiative makes business sense because customers “want to know the materials in the product are safe, and that it was produced in a responsible way.”
There’s no question that, from apparel to foods, sustainable products are big business.
Although economic hardship might stunt the short-term sales growth of sustainable and organic items, retail analysts said green merchandise has traction, especially for a core group of shoppers that will pay for it regardless of costs.
Brands have a vested interest in making sure their products and operations — from more energy-efficient lighting to renewable power systems — are environmentally friendly, experts said.
Global sales of green merchandise increased to an estimated $654 billion in 2008 from $438 billion in 2003, but are forecast to be flat this year, according to a study by Mintel International Group Ltd. If the global economy begins to recover, sales could rise 2.4 percent to $669 billion next year and reach $780 billion by 2013.
The Mintel survey of 2,500 adults found that 54 percent said they would buy more green products, but consider them too expensive. Consumers 35 years old and younger were most receptive to them, but seniors were less likely to pay the higher costs.
The report concluded that, even in a period of reduced consumer spending, competitively priced green merchandise may do well because it stands out. “Green products that offer extra value…are better positioned to weather tough economic times,” the study said.
Mintel defined green products as those that minimize impact to the environment through recycled materials; have no harmful chemicals or solvents; are made with organic and pesticide-free farming; reduce energy and water consumption; are made of sustainable woods, and are produced in ways that create lower waste and pollution.
The recession notwithstanding, Wal-Mart’s decision shows ecological issues are relevant, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for research firm The NPD Group.
“While many people may have believed green was gone due to the economic downturn, by no means is that true,” he said. “The consumer is looking for reasons to spend again, and green and philanthropy are going to be the things that help propel them out of the malaise they are in.”
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)