Yesterday, the Launchmetrics team took part in the Sustainable Future Think Tank at Premium Exhibitions Berlin, one of the largest B2B fashion trade shows in Europe. The talk, moderated by journalist and author Alec Leach, and hosted by the managing director of Premium, Anita Tillmann, attracted an impressive group of participants – including Artaud Frenoy from sustainable shoe producer Veja, Carolina Alvarez-Ossorio of Ecoalf, designer Christopher Raeburn and Petro Boselli of Petra Design to name a few. Gina Gulberti, Launchmetrics’ VP Digital Marketing, spoke on the link between technology and sustainability.
The Key Takeaways from the Sustainable Future Think Tank
The pressing question that kicked off the lively discussion concerned the acceptance of sustainability in the business cycle, from production to distribution to the consumer. Ecoalf, one of the first companies in the sustainable market stated that their mission from the beginning was and remains to be designing quality products with the best-recycled materials. “You can show the world that you don’t need to use natural resources for clothing”, said Carolina Alvarez-Ossorio. “Fashion companies need to do what is right for people and for the planet, and innovation is helping us to achieve this.” She also mentioned that “77 % of consumers are willing to pay for sustainable brands but only 23 % are actually doing it.”
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Tony Tonnaer, whose company Kings of Indigo had offices to Berlin and moved in Amsterdam to a new headquarter after he bought back the majority of the shares from the Venture Capitalist, said that because of this, brands should be more transparent. “Consumers need to be informed in the easiest, most understandable way possible; sustainable clothing is not rocket science, it is a way to make purchase decisions simple and efficient.”
These changes, however, start from the top, believes Artaud Frenoy from Veja, whose team practices sustainability initiatives in their daily operations. “The sustainability aspect is in every step of the chain for us, from logistics to the energy we use in our office.” This point was well noted, as it is important for brands to practice what they preach when it comes to sustainability. Supporting sustainability within the industry should be looked at from a multitude of different lenses rather than stopping at whether the product itself is ‘sustainable’ or not.
Gina Gulberti (Launchmetrics) addressed the question of sustainability from a different angle and suggested looking at the way consumers – especially Millennials and Gen Z – think and act. “It is not about getting faster; it is about using technology to provide answers that new generations demand – demand for transparency.”
She added: “While the current challenge remains complex, as everyone is looking at and trying to understand the minds of Millennials and Generation Z, we experience a challenge of “now” – the market demands an immediate arrival of goods, and companies compete against each other in this race. When there is a challenge, there is also an opportunity. Digitization is not a wonder word or abstract concept; it is a real solution when it comes to creating a sustainable business that responds to consumers’ demands and expectations.”
The new generation of consumers is looking for transparency; it is not about the product as such anymore, it is about the experience and meaningful luxury where people see sense in buying items that tell stories. Increasing transparency is vital for brands to build trust with modern, socially conscious shoppers.
Being sustainable is more than just how raw materials are sourced and how textiles are manufactured, shipped and reused. Being sustainable means that fashion companies need to adopt more sustainable end-to-end retail models across the board.
How can data be used to build a sustainable, long-lasting business?
Brands should start with reshaping their launch process and redefining and identifying top products, top markets, and top PR buzz. This means:
- Reviewing old collections – what has sold well.
- Reviewing where the brand is generating interest geographically as well as industry-wise.
- Reviewing what products are the most talked about and shared on social media platforms.
The formula is simple yet powerful: the right products, at the right time, for the right audience – if you read your data right.
In the end, it is not just about “transmitting” and communicating responsibility, but about integrating sustainability at all levels of your brand lifecycle, including the launch phase. Data is an allied weapon for small and large fashion brands that want to make better and more accurate decisions.
Anita Tillmann from Premium concluded:” That’s why we are here together; we need to establish an open communication network for a sustainable future where brands, agencies and solution providers work together. Our format means one plus one is eleven; together we are a powerful source.”