Kering's chief sustainability officer, Marie-Claire Daveu, echoes that sentiment. "Customers are (getting) more and more involved in what brands are doing and they're asking more questions about sustainability, both environmental and social (sustainability), as well as animal welfare. ... I think now most brands understand that thinking about sustainability is not an option, it's a necessity. And, more than that, it's becoming a duty if you want to continue to develop your company."
While the flurry of recent pronouncements by luxury fashion brands trying to do the right thing has generated positive coverage, not to mention reframed the notion of what, exactly, luxury means in the era of the woke wardrobe, it has barely begun to address the industry's biggest, dirtiest secret of all: the exploitative use of cheap foreign labor. It's on this front that Fashion Revolution's Somers says demanding supply-chain transparency is crucial.
"(Transparency) really makes a difference to the workers on the ground because it means issues get remedied much faster," she said. "And it's also really good for the brands because it helps protect them. If one of their suppliers has contracted to a factory that shouldn't be making their clothes and they're found not to be compliant, they can say 'They're not a registered supplier and shouldn't have been making the clothes.' It should be a win-win. I don't know why all brands aren't doing it."
The most important catalyst to that change, Somers says, isn't a single demographic but a single question.
"As consumers we really have power over these brands, we can use our voice and our power to bring about change, and we really need to do that," she said. "So asking the question 'Who made my clothes?' is really powerful. I've been told that for every one person who asks (that question), the brands take that as representing 10,000 people that think the same way but can't be bothered to do anything about it." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.