Fashion industry experts say luxury consumers open to sustainability premium

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Fashion industry experts say luxury consumers are expressing a willingness to spend more for garments whose production doesn’t harm the environment or exploit workers, a sign that the era of sustainability in fashion is taking hold.

Fashion industry experts say luxury consumers are expressing a willingness to spend more for garments whose production doesn’t harm the environment or exploit workers, a sign they said of a new era of sustainability in fashion.

McKinsey & Company consultancy said at an Italian Fashion Chamber round-table Tuesday that 70 percent of consumers were willing to pay some premium for items produced sustainably, based on responses of 90 department store buyers in 25 countries responsible for 50 billion euros in annual purchases. The significance of the trend was underlined by projections that the global garment industry will expand by two-thirds by 2030, while be responsible for one-quarter of the global carbon footprint by 2050, up from 2 percent in 2015.

The round-table brought together experts in ethical finance and labor practices alongside industry players and innovators in sustainable technologies in the fashion industry, which is recognized as the second-most polluting sector in the world after the oil industry. Environmental, social and governance issues were identified as key drivers defining luxury brands’ commitment to sustainability, but speakers also pressed the need for diversity in fashion boardrooms and creativity teams. The diversity call was against the backdrop of recent consumer backlashes against Prada and Gucci for producing items that recalled blackface, and against Dolce & Gabbana in China after one of the designers made insulting remarks.

Livia Firth, creative director of the Eco-age consultancy, said that despite the fashion world’s global nature, a recent report found that ethnic minorities held just 11 percent of board seats on the 15 largest publicly traded fashion companies. Firth said the case for making the fashion industry more inclusive was moral and ethical, but also made business sense, citing reports from Harvard Business Review and McKinsey that found that `’the most technically and culturally diverse boards are significantly more likely to deliver higher profits and generate more sales.”

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