Before you launch your 'Sustainable Collection' read this.

Before you launch your 'Sustainable Collection' read this.
Photo by Janke Laskowski / Unsplash

Greenwashing is a more imminent threat to fashion brands than consumer preferences for 'sustainability'.

Sustainability is intimidating.

The steep learning curve means it's easier to overstep the mark and get called out than get any credit for your efforts.

Because of the steep learning curve, brands that try to promote what they're doing at any point other than 'fully informed' risk greenwashing.

The challenge of sustainability is so multi-faceted, and no one is perfect. There can be no ideal if you're producing clothes, especially not at scale. Patagonia was one of the first companies to acknowledge that and then decide to do something about it.

If you want proof that the sustainability space is intimidating - consider that Patagonia has promoted the Higg Index - H&M were using it to make claims about 'Conscious Lines'. These lines have been taken down recently because lawmakers and legislators have caught up. They got sued.

Not even Patagonia gets it right all the time, but what they have nailed is this:

Sustainability is not a marketing tactic - it is a long-term business strategy.

It's not a person you need to hire.

We all need to educate ourselves and our industry because everyone needs to know how to run an effective meeting, manage a team or ask for help - people need to be empowered to do the right thing.

Quick wins will backfire - see BooHoo X Kourtney K's collab as a prime example of what not to do - unless your reputation is already rock bottom...In this case, no PR is bad PR.

But for 99% of brands, I have seen it is paying off more by getting on with doing the right things, building their competency bit by bit and trying to do the right thing. It could mean buying more responsibly and missing a sale rather than unsold products.

It could mean switching to organic cotton and educating your customers on why you've increased the price of your t-shirts.

Brands with a narrow focus on sustainability strategy will execute better. Of course, you can't do it all, so which parts will you try and do well?

From my 12-month venture into sustainability, I concluded that the People part of the planet, people, and profit is a great place to start.

Oliver Rhodes

Oliver Rhodes