LONDON — The industry is banding together to standardize sustainability and share resources.
“We are endeavoring to create a common language between designers, suppliers and manufacturers to communicate effectively. It’s a shared commitment,” said John Hoke, chief design officer at Nike, who revealed that the brand has created an open source design guide to help businesses reach their sustainability goals, at Copenhagen Fashion Summit earlier this year in May.
Filled with case studies, Nike’s guide aims to help businesses reach their sustainability goals. Similarly, the Center for Sustainable Fashion also unveiled a tool guide to prompt critical thinking to adopt sustainable business alternatives while Vestiaire Collective debuted an educational guide on circular fashion.
According to Tamsin Lejeune, founder of Common Objective, a networking platform similar to LinkedIn for the retail industry, there are too many varying definitions when it comes to talking about sustainability.
“Businesses don’t understand and are not intentionally misrepresenting what they are doing, but they just don’t know what something means. They genuinely want to operate that way, so we’ve built out a whole section where we have defined terms to make it easier for the industry to gauge,” Lejeune said.
To democratize sustainability, she’s set up Common Objective, for industry players to connect and join forces. Businesses of all sizes can sign up and search through their directory to match with potential solution providers across all stages of their supply chain.
Google also wants to get involved. The tech giant is working with Current Global and Stella McCartney to launch a cloud tool allowing brands to have better visibility into their supply chains to make better sourcing decisions.
Information and connectivity is becoming the key currency and these tool guides are enabling retailers to find tailored solutions — at a crucial time when businesses are under time pressure to make changes.
In a recent report conducted by Pure London, a fashion trade event, retailers are hoping to increase the percentage of sustainable products to 40 percent by the end of next year, however, many recognize that their biggest challenges lie in the supply chain.
“Sustainability has to be something that happens en masse across the entire industry to make a real difference. It needs to be non-competitive so all can benefit from economy of scale and knowledge transfer,” said Diana Verde Nieto, cofounder and ceo of Positive Luxury, a brand that promotes brands making a positive social and environmental impact.
Nieto believes that while information should be readily available, finding talent should be the same, which is why she launched Positive Luxury Careers, a platform to connect companies and sustainably driven, like-minded talent.
“We’re also aiming to create a space that encourages more involvement in sustainability, both from a business and consumer perspective. If you want to work for a company that shares the same values as you, or you want to hire someone who you know will support your sustainability goals, it’s about weaving that ethos into your entire life,” said Nieto.
The city of Helsinki is taking it one step further and opening up the dialogue to consumers: It has launched an app called Think Sustainably that allows consumers to search for companies operating sustainably across retail, food and beverage and accommodation.
“Think Sustainably not only makes sustainable choices easy, it also transparently educates both consumers and service-providers on what to consider when it comes to sustainability. It’s a positive flywheel to accelerate the service providers to do things even better than before,” said Tia Hallanoro, director of brand communications and digital development at Helsinki marketing.