1. Newsroom
  2. The role of the luxury sector in fixing the fashion footprint
Menu
UBP in der Presse 05.09.2018

The role of the luxury sector in fixing the fashion footprint

The role of the luxury sector in fixing the fashion footprint

Le Temps (20.08.2018) - The fashion industry has a disturbingly large ecological footprint.


Firstly it is incredibly wasteful; it takes 10–20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton (enough for a pair of jeans and a shirt) and more than 75% of clothes go to landfill . Worldwide consumption is increasing sharply with production doubling between 2000 and 2014. To add to the waste problem, is the pollution. Depending on which metrics one uses, fashion falls just behind energy production and food as the most polluting industry.

This is, in part, because the fashion industry has an immensely complex supply chain, which penetrates several other sectors (agriculture, transport, energy consumption). 20% of industrial water pollution is linked to the fashion sector and 0.5 bn tonnes of plastic microfibers are released from washed clothing annually.

So far, so depressing… However, what makes this industry so damaging is also what gives it so much potential. Cleaning up fashion supply chains would have a huge effect on a myriad ecological “hotspots”. The impact would not just be environmental; there is clear societal impact from more transparent, better audited supply chains.

What role can the luxury sector play? It’s a tiny proportion of fashion by volume (5–10%), but has the potential to make a disproportionately large contribution in the push for change.

The leading names in luxury are not just trend-setters in a fashion sense, but they also set the framework and acceptable standards for the sector as a whole. This responsibility is arguably easier for the luxury names, with high margins, strong balance sheets and in many cases, the long-termism that comes with family ownership – these businesses could pave the way (and in many cases are) for the high-street and discount end of the industry.

The long-termism that tends to be associated with family ownership does sometimes come at a cost. Lack of board independence means that institutional shareholders can find it difficult to lobby for change, if they feel there isn’t sufficient attention being paid to environmental and social issues.

The “S” in ESG has been a more consistent area of positive change in recent years with transparency and auditing of the supply chain being the focus. Both in terms of labour standards (wages, employee rights and working conditions) and security of sourcing (supporting growers, insourcing, helping them to adapt to the more volatile conditions created by climate change), the larger brands have made significant shifts in their approach.

Initiatives to tackle the environmental footprint have been more mixed, possibly because, to some extent, this goes against the ‘raison d’être’ of fashion – to sell clothes. The luxury brands would argue that their collections are designed to last – they are not part of the fast fashion movement – but the top-line growth of these businesses and the increasing frequency of new collections in store would indicate otherwise. Headlines on some leading retailers, burning millions of dollars’ worth of unsold clothes in order to maintain brand value, make sensational reading and are sadly all too frequent. However, it’s not all bad: there is much material innovation which hopefully results in fewer garments being fossil-fuel derived and there is a powerful initiative from the Global Fashion Association (signed by many big names) to encourage circular fashion. This should boost the currently tiny proportion of clothing that is recycled into new pieces.

It is possible that this change comes from a need to please the target market for luxury and most ‘socially conscious’ cohort, the millennials. If this is the case, we need them to keep loudly voicing their demands and also to practice what they preach: the average usage period for an item of clothing keeps shrinking, and until this changes, the efforts of the producers will merely be offsetting our insatiable hunger to buy more stuff. The only true fix for this, and many broader environmental problems, is for the tide of uber-consumerism to turn. However responsible the brand, fashion by definition needs people to demand change, freshness, newness, more… Fixing the fashion footprint ultimately needs a genuine partnership between the consumer, the brand and the shareholder.

Responsible Investment

Leggett-Victoria-150x150px.jpg

Victoria Leggett
Head of Responsible Investment for Asset Management

Expertise

Diskretionäres Portfolio-management: Sie haben die Zügel in der Hand

Ihre Ziele und Wünsche sind einzigartig – genauso wie unser Ansatz im diskretionären Portfoliomanagement
Mehr
Expertise

Swiss & Global Equities

Why Swiss equities now? This market offers equity investors the stability and agility they need to navigate this volatile period. 

Read more
Expertise

European Equities

European equities offer unrivalled opportunities in terms of breadth of sector and market exposure.

Read more

Meistgelesene News

UBP in der Presse 23.11.2020

Frontier debt comes of age

Financial Investigator (20.11.2020) - Frontier debt has grown significantly over the past decade and now warrants serious consideration as a dedicated allocation in investors’ portfolios.

UBP in der Presse 18.12.2020

The drift towards thematic investing

Rankia Pro (12.2020) - Interview with Didier Chan-Voc-Chun, UBP’s Head of Multi-Management & Fund Research

UBP in der Presse 04.01.2021

The rise of UBP’s impact strategy

Funds Society (14.12.2020) - The first strategy in UBP's impact investing platform, Positive Impact Equity, has been going from strength to strength since its inception. Impact investing specialist Yvan Delaplace details the strategy’s investment process and broader sustainability trends in the sector.


Auch lesenswert

UBP in der Presse 12.05.2021

The end of ICE age?

Option Finance (21.03.2021) - In the last six months there have been strategy roll-outs from three car makers which are very important for different reasons and jointly may signal an even brighter outlook for Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) than the current consensus, and possibly mark the beginning of the end for Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles.

UBP in der Presse 07.05.2021

Steigende Realzinsen: Wie Institutionelle daraus das Beste machen

Institutional Money (06.05.2021) - In den vergangenen Monaten sind die Nominalzinsen weltweit gestiegen. Dieser Trend wird unserer Einschätzung nach andauern, allerdings aus anderen Gründen. Damit stellt sich die Frage, wie sich Anleger nun an den Rentenmärkten positionieren sollten.

UBP in der Presse 05.05.2021

UBP’s wealth management model in Asia

Hubbis (03.04.2021) – Hubbis recently spoke with Michael Blake, CEO UBP Asia, as he cast his eye over the regional wealth management market and explained why he and UBP remain so optimistic about private banking in the region.