The Covid-19 pandemic has acted as an economic and social game changer in many respects, causing a strong disruption of previous business models as well as supply chain and production processes. 

This is also true for the fashion industry, where it also accelerated a clear shift toward sustainability in consumption and production, in response to consumers’ heightened awareness of environmental and social concerns. 

However, while the recent changes are increasingly pushing companies to focus on viable drivers of sustainability, barriers to the adoption of sustainable practices still persist. 

These topics were discussed in a live talk at MicamX, Micam Milano’s innovation hub that made its debut in February 2020 with a series of seminars and workshops aimed at keeping fashion industry players up to date on the latest market trends, research into new materials, sustainability and the future of retail. 

According to Kerry Bannigan, Founder of Conscious Fashion Campaign - an initiative that works to increase the fashion industry’s action support of the Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the UN - Covid impacted sustainability practices within the sector in two major ways: 

1. It has raised awareness of sustainability issues among consumers, as news and social media content have started to expose their practices. 

2. There has been an unparalleled disruption in supply chains and processes. Companies should take this opportunity to rethink their practices and shift them towards sustainability. 

However, while Covid has been disruptive in terms of conscious fashion, two major barriers persist, according to Bannigan:  

1. The perceived cost of fair practices, aimed at ensuring that everyone along the supply chain is treated fairly. 

A survey among New York Fashion week participants showed that for nearly half of them it was the perceived cost that prevented them from transitioning to sustainability, also considering that they are already facing additional costs stemming from the pandemic. 

In this respect, there is a need for education, to foster awareness of why it is actually good for businesses to transition to sustainability. 

2. Another barrier is a competition mentality instead of a collaborative mentality. 

In this context, where the pandemic has made consumers want to shop with purpose, companies and organizations must find ways to strengthen their knowledge and experience of sustainability, innovate and collaborate. 

Photo: © Matthew Smith on Unsplash