Silk, Fashion, Sustainability and Millennial

Time:2020-06-22 Source:本站


Mr. João Berdu Garcia Junior

President of Bisa Overseas

I would like to thank ISU for continuous support that gave me the opportunity of taking the floor to give a speech about silk, fashion, sustainability and Millennial generation. Yes, once more. My belief that silk industry is as sustainable as fashion industry needs to be is stronger than ever, the signs that validate this belief are spreading and I will share some of them with you.

On my presentation you will see significant views of today’s world fashion industry related to sustainability, initiatives out of fashion industry that favor silk as a fiber. We will see what ISU have done so far to share the silk valuable contribution to fashion sustainability and presentation will finish with the introduction of an APP designed to spread among Millennials the positive behavior of silk towards fashion sustainability.

On November 4th, a month ago, Louis Vuitton market capitalization reached 201 billion euros, a threshold never reached by a French group. Company has the highest revenue among luxury fashion brands and I would like to start sharing with you a two minutes cut of a video produced by Louis Vuitton regarding sustainability. But first let’s have a look on this one minute video that presents carbon footprint concept in a very simple and efficient way.

Now, let's have a look on what Louis Vuitton says about sustainability.

When an icon of fashion luxury states that products are designed to last and its long-term goal is to ensure that luxury and sustainability go hand in hand, if you are from fashion industry it is wise to have this statement in mind in the strategic plans of yours.

As we have seen, at Louis Vuitton the environmental policy has been a growth strategy for 27 years, meanwhile at this other icon of fashion luxury, that gives us the honor of nominating an ISU Vice Chairman, sustainability leads the way for centuries and it is not a figure of speech. This corporate report made by Hermès in 2018 brings the clearest and most comprehensive sustainability definition I have ever seen. I quote: “The sustainability of Hermès products has been at the heart of its success since 1837. Our objects are created and manufactured to last and often to be passed on from generation to generation. The use of the finest natural materials and artisanal craftsmanship also make it possible to repair them. A luxury product is one that can be repaired. This durability is an important point in the assessment of the ecological impact of our manufacturing at every stage, from design to production. By its nature, a Hermès object is made to be passed on”. This is exactly the sustainability concept that goes far beyond recycling and is reaching Millennials hearts, minds and desires.

Please allow me a personal testimony. In 1996 I had the pleasure of receiving in Brazil Mme. Michèle Dumas, who was Hermès General Director at that time. Her visit came after a meeting I had, also in Maringá my beloved city, with Mr. Patrick Guerrand-Hermès, at that time a former director of Hermès who was responsible for development of silk business at the company. By the conversation I had with them I can assure you that environmental and social responsibility was a great concern of Hermès directors at that time, when others were following the mainstream and thinking on re-engineering, outsourcing and cost cutting.

Also from the top of fashion pyramid Kering Group has announced on September, 24th 2019 that the entire group will become carbon neutral within its own operations and across the entire supply chain. As a next step in its long-term commitment to sustainability, Kering will offset the group’s annual greenhouse gas emissions from 2018 on top of all efforts to first avoid and then reduce them. “Offset greenhouse gas emissions”, please have this concept in mind, we will return to it in a few minutes.

Thus, we can say that on the top of fashion pyramid sustainability and carbon footprint mitigation are considered important assets. What about the bottom of fashion pyramid, the fast fashion sector? Do their customers care are about sustainability? Are they considering sustainability on their marketing and commercial strategies?

With more than four thousand stores in over 50 countries and annual revenue around USD24 billion H&M is the leader among fast fashion retailers. Since 2013, claiming sustainability concern H&M is collecting used clothes on its stores. In 2018 alone they have collected more than 20 thousand tons of garments for reuse and recycling. Yes, reuse. Circular economy has arrived to fast fashion.

H&M USD4.3 billion inventory of garments piled up in 2018 lead us to think that despite of actual sustainability concern that can be measured by the fact that 95% of cotton used by H&M is recycled or coming from other sustainable source or H&M goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 11% and aiming to be carbon positive in 2040 did not succeed on getting Millennials on board. H&M sells fast fashion and it seems Millennials are buying less clothes and choosing the ones that would last for more than a season, clothes with meaning not with season color, Millennials are buying objects that embeds their desire of a better world thru responsible consumption.

Related of initiatives that favors silk, we have out of fashion industry world organizations interested on the concept of carbon footprint. The United Nations launched this Climate Neutrality Guide. It invites readers to kick habits aiming carbon neutrality. It shows some interesting information related to day by day habits that have direct impact on greenhouse gas emissions such as the use of a cell phone. According to UN the use of cell phone generates 112 kg of carbon footprint per year. UN guide offers a scale of reference making easier for people to measure daily impacts and consider the options of a low carbon lifestyle. Using scientific parameters UN have also quantified that 3,500 kg of CO2 is sequestered annually by 100 square meters of forest preserved from deforestation. That is how Kering plans to became carbon neutral and offset group’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018: offset emissions with carbon credit that is related to a certain area of forest that is kept preserved to sequestrate same amount of carbon.

United Nations report states that 100 square meters of forest offsets 3,500 kg of CO2 annually, using same scientific parameters an article published by Brazilian researchers on AUTEX - World Textile Conference in 2017 states that same area planted with mulberry trees mitigates 816 kg of CO2. Another relevant data, please also have it in mind.

According to the United Nations fashion is responsible for about 10% of world carbon footprint. Oxfam, a respected British NGO, made available the information that carbon footprint generated by new clothes bought at every hour in the United Kingdom is as big as driving a car around the world 360 times. Ellen MacArthur Foundation states that one garbage truck of clothes is burned or landfilled every second. It is enough to fulfill one and a half Empire State Building every day and enough to fill Sidney harbor every year. The amazing figure is: more than 82 billion kg of clothes per year or more than 11 kg per every person on Earth. Millennials are receiving, sharing and being scared by information like these.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation is a British NGO launched in 2010 by Ellen MacArthur with mission of accelerating the transition to a circular economy. Among Foundation´s global partners there are Unilever with annual revenue of USD57 billion, Renault with annual revenue of USD63 billion and Google with annual revenue of USD136 billion. Let’s see a two minutes video of Ellen MacArthur introducing the idea of circular economy.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation has strong partners on a world class challenge of rethinking the production under a circular economy concept that has its basis on: natural resources are finite, growth can happen decoupled from resource constraints having goods designed, produced and used to last longer. Benefits of this new system are forecasted as 48% reduction on carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, increase of €3 thousand per year for each European households and RMB70 trillion savings for business and households in China by 2040. For those who are not used to the amazing figures of Chinese economy RMB70 trillion under current exchange rate is USD10 trillion.

The attention to carbon footprint decreasing is also present on the Outline for Citizens in the New Era released by Chinese Government in October, 2019. Item seven of the 4th task guides citizens to green production lifestyle stating that green development and ecology are important signs of modern civilization, the foundation of a better life, and the expectations of the people. It says it is necessary to advocate simple and moderate, green and low-carbon lifestyles and guide people to protect the environment. The country that ruled World economic development for decades guides citizens to a low carbon lifestyle, thus if you run a company on Planet Earth, it is wise to have this statement in mind in the strategic plans of yours.

Now let’s see some aspects related with silk and silk industry under this context. On the marketing research made by ISU in 2018 listening 2,500 millennial women in China, France, Germany, Italy and United States we found out that more than 60% of Millennials are considering decreasing their carbon footprint and 65% of them consider silk is sustainable as silk products are made to last.

A report that can be red on a cell phone has been produced and in 2018, aiming to have it spread among Millennials, ISU invited interested organizations to spread it on social media using a customized video. Ufficio Italiano Seta accepted the invitation and this customized video is posted on its YouTube channel. Setificio Former Students Association have also accepted ISU invitation as well as other five leading companies on silk world industry that have joined ISU initiative and received a customized video to be spread on social media: Ongetta, Tessitura Successori Giuseppe Cattaneo, that embedded links to video and to report download on its website in Italian and English, Tessitura Taborelli, Trudel and Tessitura Vitali. Once more, thanks to directors of these organizations for the support to spread the positive behavior of silk towards fashions sustainability.

So, thru ISU survey we found out that silk is linked with sustainability on the mind of Millennials as silk is bought to last. But, ISU survey also brought to us the information that only 35% of Millennials are aware that in order to have silk produced it is absolutely necessary to keep alive, wealthy and free of pesticides a great number of mulberry trees whose fresh leaves are silkworm's sole food.

Millennials are unaware that one ton of silk fiber turned into pieces of garment will generate about 25 tons of carbon footprint during the entire pieces’ life cycle according to WRAP, a respected British NGO, but the mulberry trees that were necessary to be kept alive to feed silkworms have mitigated about 735 tons of CO2. So, mulberry trees carbon sequestration necessary to have silk produced is 30 times bigger than carbon footprint of a silk item. Silk is sustainability.

How to put this information in the hands of Millennials? As we all see everywhere, Millennials are entities made of a person and a cell phone. It’s a challenge to find one without the other. So, as 69% of Millennials listened on ISU marketing survey agreed with the statement that an APP that would help them to manage their carbon footprint would be helpful, we are developing a cell phone APP that would help user to realize the carbon weight of consuming habits and their impact on greenhouse gas emissions in a friendly way in order to motivate Millennials to share the idea.

The algorithm on the APP is based on United Nations Climate Neutrality Guide and articles published on reliable sources. SILKO2 purpose is to help consumers to realize that daily consuming options matters on sustainability issues, offer a scale to compare them and at same time put silk under the good light it deserves towards fashion sustainability.

Let's have a look on basic version prototype.  


This is how it looks. SilkO2 is a game based on a Carbon Account where value of carbon footprint left by the user is debited and carbon mitigation is credited. Algorithm transforms credit balance into offsetting time of user’s daily actions. This chronometer we see is showing the offset remaining time of the carbon footprint left by the use of cell phone. Offset is made with credit generated by the mulberry trees that were necessary to produce the fiber of a single silk blouse the user has just bought. Thus, after deducting the carbon footprint left by the blouse itself, SILKO2 algorithm shows that mulberry trees necessary to feed the silkworms that produced the silk used on a single silk blouse has sequestered enough CO2 to offset eight hundred ninety seven days, five hours and thirty one minutes of cell phone use carbon footprint.

Please note that the link between time and carbon footprint is not new to Millennials. Most of them are aware of Earth Overshoot Day that marks the date when humanity's demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. In 2019, according to Global Footprint Network as you can see the overshooting day was July, 29th. So let's stop the chronometer and explore the APP.

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