Waiting for the (Green) Shoe to Drop

Glitz, glam and… green? Decidedly not – at least for now. As Fashion Week concludes in New York City, the latest trends, styles and colors have been the spotlight – and noticeably absent is a focus on environmentally and socially conscious design and production. And although American consumers expect companies to address the full environmental impact of a product’s lifecycle, from manufacturing to end-of-life, the question remains whether the fashion industry will step up to the plate.

Some brands are on the green path already. According to Levi Strauss, the brand has been tackling lifecycle issues from responsible water and materials use, to creating end-of-life instructions on its product "care tags." Timberland* is a prominent advocate for environmental responsibility and social justice, and the brand continues to innovate product design to include recycled, renewable and organic materials.

But the question remains whether fashion can make the leap towards green in a way that proves bottom line benefits. Certainlyfashion is slowly embracing CSR. While consumers around the world increasingly demand companies address social and environmental issues, it remains to be seen if they hold the same expectations for apparel, footwear and accessories makers – and whether they’ll create enough demand to sustain CSR-driven products. The majority of consumers may be unlikely to prioritize sustainability if they believe it will come at the expense of style.

*Cone client

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