LONDON, United Kingdom — Luxury department store Selfridges was gearing up to launch a major new campaign and brand strategy centred on sustainability when the UK went into lockdown in March.
Plans to get the project off the ground earlier this year were put on ice as as the retail economy went into freefall. Selfridges wasn’t alone. Across the industry, companies in crisis mode pressed pause on big new sustainability initiatives.
But as the industry adjusts to a new normal, sustainability is back on the agenda. Over the last few weeks, a flurry of brands and retailers — from Ferragamo to Timberland — have published ambitious sustainability goals.
The long-term targets come at a time of growing urgency. Despite the splashy announcements, greenhouse gas emissions from the industry are still on track to far exceed the level required to meet global goals, according to a report by the Global Fashion Agenda and McKinsey & Company released in August. At the same time, fashion is contending with a drastic and prolonged downturn, the result of a global health crisis that has also laid bare its widespread reliance on precarious labour practices.
The latest suite of targets are a revealing peek under the hood at where progress is moving forward and where the industry is still lagging.