1. Background

  • The fashion industry is the 2nd largest global polluter.
  • 40.3 million people are trapped in “modern slavery”, many of whom make our clothes.
  • 60% of millennials want to buy sustainably, but 23% do not because of an information gap.

2. Goal

Encourage sustainable fashion by creating a web-tool that compares the environmental and social performance of products and brands based on industry reports and life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) data.

3. Methodology - Document Review and Analysis

Develop Evaluation Criteria

Identify criteria based on the top 5 environmental & top 5 social issues, to evaluate each garment and brand.

Select Garments and Brands

Determine the top 9 garments for millennial women, selecting different brands at 3 price points, totalling 27 items.

Evaluate Products and Brands

Evaluate each product’s environmental impact based on material composition and green certifications using the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) tool.

Evaluate each brand’s social impact based on whether they address the top 5 social issues.

Implement Marketing Strategy

Identify successful marketing strategies to share results.

Build the web-tool and use Instagram to gain traction.

4. Results

Overall Product Environmental Scores & Brand Social Scores

  • Expensive products generally scored higher.
  • Scores ultimately depended on product materials and brand disclosure.
  • Some large “fast fashion” brands scored better than smaller “sustainable” brands because they use polyester and disclose their supply chains.
  • The lack of brand disclosure limited the number of social criteria that could be evaluated.

An “eco-fashion” Instagram was made to share the web-tool and results, gaining hundreds of followers within weeks. The audience comprised of 56% women, most of whom were 18 to 34 years old.

The findings that natural fabrics are less environmental than synthetics is incomplete, since the MSI excluded the manufacturing, use, & disposal phase of the LCIA.

5. Takeaways

  • There are gaps in the fashion industry’s LCIA data as products have yet to undergo a full cradle-to-grave LCIA.
  • Brands still lack disclosure.
  • Consumers show a demand for sustainable fashion.
  • This research has laid the groundwork for creating a database for conscious consumerism.