There are many reasons why it makes good business sense to invest in sustainable fashion. The main reason being, sustainable practices actually help a business to not only make money, but save money too. Nowadays, businesses not only need to think about managing their staff, their budgets and their bottom lines. It is also really important that they manage resources too.
Businesses are constantly competing against one another, and fashion is perhaps the most competitive business of all. When it comes to sustainability, this is one of the most competitive aspects of any modern business. Not only because nowadays being sustainable means that you are appealing to a wider clientèle and are opening up to the idea of winning awards and morality points; but also because by being sustainable you are going to save your business so much money in resources. This competitive edge that surrounds growing businesses in regards to sustainability has been dubbed “the green race” and it is not only businesses that are competing against one another. Countries have started to compete in order to secure a more respected place in “the green race.” When it comes to fashion, the essence at the core of each garment should represent the culture where it originates from. Fashion is a deeply expressive art form that portrays so much about its patronage. By embracing sustainability any fashion business is connecting with its culture and country. Here in the United Arab Emirates we still have a rich community feel at the core of our business, especially in the world of fashion. Our approach to business will work especially well when we consider the world at large and use sustainable ethical methods. By doing so we are supporting our culture and community, as well as thinking about our global community and the environmental needs of the entire world.
Anyone who works in fashion will know just how essential water is to a fashion business. Water is used to cultivate cotton, and to dye and finish fabric. It has been predicted by the World Resources Institute that between 2007 and 2025, water use will increase by 50% in developing countries and 18% in developed ones. The WWF has identified that it can take up to 2,700 litres to produce enough cotton to make one single t-shirt. The obvious solution to this would be to recycle the water, but the pesticides used often make recycling water impossible. Farmers need to be re-educated in alternative farming methods that involve avoiding pesticides and recycling their water. Levi proved that this is manageable when they made 100,000 pairs of jeans using 100% recycled water. With big businesses such as Levi proving that they can produce sustainable fashion, it means that the competition is fierce and any business that is serious about fashion should strongly consider going ethical.
One main reason to consider going ethical with your business is that the consumer is becoming more ethically conscious. They are reading about sustainability and making informed choices that affect their purchases. People are starting to learn about the pollution involved in traditional textile manufacture, and ethical choices are starting to look more appealing. New printing methods such as air dying and ethically sound digital printing (which has been used by fashion greats such as Mary Katrantzou, Alexander McQueen and Basso & Brooke) and recycled synthetics such as those formed from plastic bottles, and the use of sustainable natural fibres such as bamboo are increasing in popularity. A recent report by the Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability showed that 80% of shoppers like the idea of purchasing ethical, safe, sustainable, non-toxic, sweatshop-free fashion. Evidence shows that the world of eco-fashion is going from strength-to-strength and as any good fashion business knows it pays to be ahead of the trend. Now is the time to go sustainable, to embrace the change and get recognised as one of the sustainable fashion businesses before it becomes the norm.
In the West, ethical fashion is a mature market. It has taken off and is still gaining more momentum. Here in the Middle East our focus is still on brand labels. Fashion is one of our main industries, alongside construction, tourism, food and trade but the ethical side of things has yet to take off. We need to change this! Because gas is plentiful, most Middle Eastern fashion empires don’t consider that it will eventually run out. Gas won’t last forever, and neither will the brand labels that rely on this precious resource, not unless we start making some dramatic changes. It is essential that we start acknowledging our environment and championing the change in this area of the world. By taking gas for granted we are taking our profit and our growth for granted, we are taking our businesses for granted and we are taking our beautiful culture for granted. We have more wealth than anyone, this gives us the freedom to really invest in our future and to ensure that we continue to grow and prosper. The Middle east has always been forward thinking and at the front of the fashion game, we can’t afford to fall behind as the West have already invested so much in sustainable resources and ethical fashion. Our culture is built from a durable and united social fabric, it is time to make it a sustainable one.
The future of fashion is changing, and with its focus on sustainability and preserving the health of the planet as well as looking after our communities, this is something that resounds deeply at the heart of the Arab culture.