Sustainability is in fashion. Finally.

by | Dec 13, 2018

Shelton Insight

40% of Americans say buying/using eco-friendly products is an important part of their personal image (Shelton Eco Pulse 2017).

Sustainability Win of the Week

Consumers who choose sustainable options in other product categories have been slow to apply their conscience to fashion. Style, fit and price have continued to drive their purchase decisions. But this year, something has changed. According to a recent Forbes article, sustainable fashion is trending. Keyword searches on sustainability and fashion jumped 47% from 2017 to 2018, and the trend is expected to continue in 2019. The article also reports that “several brands with a strong stance on sustainability made the ‘most searched for’ roundups for the first time.”

Much goes into the making of sustainable fashion products. To get to the point that  sustainability could ever be considered fashionable has required a lot of hard work at all stages of the supply chain. Sustainability is crucial not just in the final consumer product but at all steps and stages in between. So, we’d like to give credit to organizations that have really been a driving force for improving sustainability in fashion. Their efforts have put this issue in the spotlight and now this search trend shows it’s reached consumers.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has been a leader in bringing the circular economy into the fashion industry. Through the “Make Fashion Circular” project, they’ve joined forces with a plethora of brands to address a three-pronged vision: “business models that keep clothes in use; materials that are renewable and safe; solutions that turn used clothes into new clothes.”

Eileen Fisher, the fashion brand, is another key example of sustainability in fashion. As Forbes declares, “Eileen Fisher is arguably the leader in sustainable fashion” with “a range of unfussy, Japanese-inspired wares” that buck trends, “stand the test of time” and have a lighter impact on the environment. The brand “buys back discarded garments from consumers for five dollars a pop, as part of its Renew initiative…[and] either resells them at reduced prices or creates new designs out of them.”

Other organizations and programs ensure sustainability is a part of not only the final product (clothing and textiles) but also the growing and harvesting of raw materials. The Cotton LEADS program, for example, connects companies across the textile supply chain with sustainably grown cotton from the United States and Australia. They help member companies figure out how to source sustainably – and how to talk about their efforts with their consumers.

News of the Week
Congress passes Farm Bill with unprecedented level of food waste action – Waste Dive

The massive $867 billion Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 – otherwise known as the “Farm Bill” – just went up for a final vote in Congress and has passed. A few stipulations in the bill directly pertain to sustainability, and you can read about them here in this article. The bill includes $25 million in annual funding for the USDA to develop and test municipal compost and food waste reduction plans – and to work toward diverting food waste from landfills. “Groups such as ReFED and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic have been advocating for food waste prevention provisions for years,” the article states; now, it seems, those efforts have finally paid off.

Green energy tide sweeps rural America despite pushback from Trump – Forbes

According to Forbes, midwestern states and rural areas of the U.S. are “fully accepting” recent scientific findings on climate change despite pushback from the Trump administration. In particular, renewable energy projects such as solar and wind energy are increasing in those areas – and coal power generation is being phased out. This finding is significant to utilities especially; it indicates that even in areas that have traditionally been skeptical of sustainability, renewable energy is on the rise.

When it comes to sustainability, how does YOUR company stack up?

We’ve interviewed sustainability leaders and gathered their advice for what it takes to successfully bake sustainability into a corporate structure. Learn the stages of corporate sustainability – from initial strategy to final implementation – and get the game plan to achieve a competitive advantage by mobilizing your team.

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About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Courtnay Hamachek

VP Operations

Courtnay oversees our day-to-day operations to keep us running smoothly and support our growth. She establishes project management systems and processes to help our teams anticipate bottlenecks, prevent process issues, and keep projects on time and on target. Courtnay has built extensive experience over 25 years in all aspects of marketing, from account services and project management to design and production.

Aaron Crecy

Digital Marketing Director

Aaron is responsible for planning, executing and measuring digital marketing strategies for Shelton Group and our clients, with an emphasis on inbound, content, SEO, social media, email and paid initiatives. He constantly researches and explores new tactics and strategies to improve digital campaign performance and results.

Aaron brings to the table more than 20 years of marketing leadership experience with premium consumer-facing brands. He came to Shelton Group by way of Malibu Boats, where, as Director of Global Marketing, he oversaw strategic marketing planning and execution for multiple product lines, with specific emphasis on social media and digital. Prior to that, he served as CMO for a leading daily fantasy sports operator, guiding it from startup to the industry’s third-ranked site.

Scot Case

Senior Consultant

A sustainability strategy consultant since 1993, Scot has served as non-profit leader, as a partner in an environmental marketing firm that he grew and sold, and as an executive in a multi-billion-dollar, international company. He has published dozens of articles and case studies, was co-author of the original “Sins of Greenwashing” study, testified before Congress, and been quoted on NPR, Good Morning America, CNN, The New York Times, Business Week, and the Wall Street Journal. Scot was also highlighted in an Emmy award-winning documentary on sustainable purchasing.

Casey Ward

VP Account Services

Casey manages our relationships, growth and development with a specific group of clients that includes Environmental Defense Fund, Cotton LEADS and CertainTeed Insulation. She provides leadership and support for the account team members who manage the day-to-day processes for these clients. She contributes to strategic direction for each client and guides our creative efforts to ensure everything we do builds toward meeting – or exceeding – the client’s goals. Her ability to simultaneously see the big picture and pay close attention to the details helps her champion her clients’ needs and identify new growth opportunities for them.