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Opinion: Brands must embrace sustainability to survive post-COVID-19

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None of this is surprising. COVID-19 has accelerated the trends we saw in its lead-up: the decline of retail, the growth of direct-to-consumer channels, wellness as a movement and values-driven consumerism. That sustainability will be a foundation of the economy that comes out of this pandemic is a reaffirmation of what Gen-Z has already told us.
 
The Gen-Z generation is already aging into the workforce and becoming the largest consumer group. Studies show that millennials will spend more for sustainable products, but Gen-Z is willing to pay an even higher premium. They’re also more likely to boycott and “cancel” brands that aren’t moving toward sustainability fast enough. And they process digital media faster than ever before which has, over time, honed their BS detectors.
 
Beyond consumer sentiment, sustainability is proving itself as one of the most reliable brand differentiators. A recent New York University Stern Center for Sustainable Business study found that since 2013, sustainable products grew 5.6 times faster than conventionally marketed products, and 3.3 times faster than the CPG market as a whole.
 
For brands to survive and compete, sustainability can no longer be an afterthought. Here’s how brands are beginning to embrace sustainability:

Starting with low-hanging fruit

As first steps to sustainability, we’re seeing brands improve packaging recycling, create emissions offsets and partner with nonprofits–finding ROI when these efforts are paired with smart marketing tactics. This means taking the consumer on the path with them, creating educational messaging to have a more positive impact.
 
Credo, the clean beauty retailer, for example, has created a packaging recycling program with TerraCycle that gives consumers loyalty points for returning empty beauty products—even non-Credo products–turning a competitor’s customers into their own loyalty members. For brands looking for those “easy wins,” SMAKK’s Mission Plan pairs these types of tactics with marketing strategies, and the Slow Factory Foundation offers a primer on sustainable literacy as well as a sustainability crash course.

Creating circular product experiences

Recycling is broken and single-use packaging is a massive problem. Circular product experiences are moving to fill the gap with countless new challenger brands rising up to disrupt the CPG marketplace and reduce waste.
 
Brands including Bite, by Humankind and Clean Cult use innovative refill programs to convert one-time purchases to subscription models. A refill model turns a single purchase into a repeat with very little friction, often passing savings on to the consumer. In the case of the whole-food supplements brand STAMBA, the durability and design of the packaging adds to shelf presence in retail, while the refill program brings the consumer data into the brand’s digital ecosystem.

Turning trash into a cult object

Nonprofits like 4 Ocean and Parley are using products created from the problems they are trying to solve to shine a light on the issues themselves. In the case of Parley’s collaboration with Adidas, the covet-worthy shoes made from ocean plastic becomes a tool to spread awareness, with consumers retelling the story of their purchase. Other brands like Everlane, Girlfriend Collective and Rothy’s have developed campaigns that highlight recycled materials in their products to quantify the impact of their purchase for shoppers.

Going beyond zero

The most ambitious companies are going beyond carbon neutral to truly offer reparative solutions. Microsoft has set aggressive emissions reductions goals including going carbon negative by 2030. By 2050, its goal is to remove all the carbon the company has emitted since it was founded in 1975.
 
As awareness in understanding businesses’ historical impacts grows, simply making incremental changes to reduce emissions or add recycled content to new packaging won’t be enough. Brands that have invested billions in their shelf presence will have to think about the inadvertent consumer touchpoints their trash is creating and invest there as well. It’s likely we’ll see more pressure for legacy brands to step up.
 
Coming out of Covid-19, we now have an opportunity to rebuild a better economy where the bottom line includes sustainability. As Greta said, “The world is waking up and change is coming, whether you like it or not.”


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Fashion & Style

Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Fendi and more luxury stores looted amid protests over George Floyd’s death 

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As the situation in parts of the United States is growing worse with raging protests over the racism against George Floyd’s death, stores have been looted and vandalised by protesters.

Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Fendi and more luxury stores looted amid protests over George Floyd's death Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Fendi and more luxury stores looted amid protests over George Floyd’s death 

The raging protests are only growing every day following George Floyd’s death. The death of the African-American person who was in police custody has caused unrest in parts of the United States. In cities like New York, Chicago, Minneapolis etc.there have been massive protests and outbreaks of violence. Curfews have been imposed across multiple states to try and curb the violence. The National Guard has also been called but it seems like the situation is just getting worse.

Protesters have taken to the streets and multiple properties including restaurants, public properties and luxury retail stores have been damaged in the process. Luxury stores like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Fendi. Alexander McQueen, Hermes, Chanel, etc. have been looted and vandalised. Statements like “Eat the rich”, “F*** the police”, “F*** Trump”, “Living in hell” and “The Revolution is coming”, were spray painted across multiple luxury retail stores in photos that popular Instagram page Diet Prada uploaded.

Protesters with their faces covered to keep their identities hidden, have also been looting the stores and practically running away with products, leaving all of them practically empty! 

While questions have been raised about how looting luxury retail stores help in aiding protests, others say that there is no one way to protest. The idea is to get attention to the issue and make a statement. 

What are your thoughts on the ongoing events? Comment below and let us know. 
 


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Style findings: Kiko Kostadinov and Asics’ sneaker nods to tennis

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Courtside style

1 June

There’s something space age about Kiko Kostadinov’s latest trainer collaboration with Asics. The womenswear style, designed by Laura and Deanna Fanning brings together the Gessirit sneaker silhouette, with a 2003 tennis model, the Excourt, which was noted for its quilted upper and lack of logo. The result is an eye-catching multi coloured style, with spacey Gel pod detailing which alludes to Asics history of material innovation. We’ll be hitting the tennis court in this cream pair, accented with pops of yellow, metallic blue and red. Game, set, style match.

Writer: Laura Hawkins

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Fashion & Style

Vogue stylist Julie Pelipas is launching an upcycled suiting label—and it’s affordable

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“When it comes to creating clothes, we can do better, we can create beautiful things ethically and thoughtfully,” Vogue Ukraine fashion director Julie Pelipas explains over Zoom from her home in Kiev. “That’s the challenge and the magic.”

This month, the stylist who is loved for her revolutionary fashion editorials as much as her indelibly clean personal style, will launch Bettter—the small-batch tailoring label she’s been dreaming of making a reality for the past three years. Her very first collection, June’s ‘00 drop’, will feature just 46 looks destined to give upcycled fashion an upscale makeover. That’s where the name comes in. “It was initially a typo,” Pelipas admits, “but if our plan is to upcycle everything, the thinking was: why can’t we also upcycle the word ‘better’?”

So, what makes Bettter better? First, “it’s about special, one-of-a-kind clothes, not big collections.” Every piece is guaranteed secondhand and vintage, sourced locally from Ukraine’s thriving vintage scene where Pelipas spent so much time growing up.

Photography by Ksenia Kargina. Courtesy of Bettter.

Then there are the signature men’s suiting silhouettes, inspired by Ernest Hemingway, Paraska Plytka-Horytsvit (“the Frida Kahlo of the Ukrainian art scene”), and Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich. Each suit is designed to fit up to three clothing sizes, and the fact that Pelipas’s own wardrobe is built around ultra-flattering, roomy suiting is no coincidence. (Think vintage Alaïa vests, worn back to front, teamed with Katharine Hepburn-esque slacks).

Spacious, masculine cuts have been something of an obsession for the stylist since her high-school days when she first began taking her grandfather’s suits and redesigning them to fit her rangy frame. “I experienced a sudden growth spurt at 13 and went from being the smallest girl in the school to the tallest in the space of one year,” Pelipas explains. “I was like a giraffe. At 185cm (6ft), nothing fit.”

Years later, at Paris Fashion Week in July 2018, the stylist once again pulled out a vintage men’s suit that she’d redesigned, then a pair of voluminous, tailored white jeans — both Bettter prototypes. The street-style photographers went into a frenzy. Hundreds of Instagram DMs later, and the stylist had a viable business plan.

Julie Pelipas during the Couture Autumn/Winter 2018 shows in Paris, France. Photography by Melodie Jeng. Getty Images

© Melodie Jeng

“I loved the way I felt back when I first walked into school wearing one of my grandfather’s tailored cream suits. That’s what I want to do with Bettter — I want everyone to feel that the look they buy is not a random purchase, but something that will stay with them, like a grandfather’s jacket.”

But it’s not just the label’s heartfelt sustainable credentials or the polished fits that make it a uniquely modern proposition. Pelipas is also overhauling the way we shop. Instead of buying a single piece, Bettter sells full looks (or a “model upcycled wardrobe”), consisting of a one-of-a-kind secondhand suit, with one or two shirts, and one or two T-shirts — in other words, the building blocks of Pelipas’s own 24/7 closet. The bonus is that when it comes to both ethics and aesthetics, you never have to worry about what you wear.

“We track everything, from where we found the original suit to the year of production if we can find it, and information about who inspired the silhouette,” Pelipas adds, noting the importance of transparency. “My dream is that we can share the story behind every piece, including the names of former owners. That’s how, I believe, we will learn to build more sustainable wardrobes where every item has a meaning. I would love to get to the stage where people will give us their clothes to redesign.”

Photography by Dudi Hasson. Courtesy of Bettter.

The focus on ‘honest fashion’ also includes the label’s price points. “We will consider every little thing about the look before we price it,” Pelipas explains, adding that a fully recrafted look will retail at around $500, with some specially crafted looks priced a little nearer to $1,000. Alongside plans to build an algorithmic tool, which will enable shoppers to custom-design their own Bettter suit tailored to personal specifications, the stylist also has her sights set on launching a line of ultra-affordable looks in time for the ‘03 drop’. “I’m here to bring people joy, not struggle, so I hope that with time we will actually be able to lower prices.”

“Years ago when I bought the beautiful Phoebe Philo Céline pink suit, which I love, I remember I gave my whole monthly salary for that. We need to consume more responsibly and thoughtfully now, reconsidering our relationship with all of the things that we have around us.”

Bettter is available to shop online at Bettter.us from 1 June 2020

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