Can Vogue Make An Impact In Making Fashion More Sustainable?

Under the auspices of UN Climate Change, the fashion industry has been working to make an impact to the fight against climate change. The latest news is the addition of leading fashion and related media publisher Condé Nast to the struggle.

Condé Nast, the publishing group synonymous with fashion in significant parts of the world, has become the first media company to sign the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. With this move, Condé Nast  has pledged to promote sustainable fashion and clothing re-use to its readership worldwide.

Condé Nast joins other fashion industry players including Inditex, Kering and Stella McCartney in acknowledging the sector’s contributions to climate change and a responsibility to strive towards climate neutrality for Earth. Up until now, the industry has regularly come up short in its efforts to clean up, as we have also documented.

“I welcome Condé Nast’s announcement today. Condé Nast is the first media outlet to join the Fashion Industry Charter, which is a token of their commitment to play their part in reaching the Paris Agreement goals, and highlights the need to have every sector and everyone on board,” said Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary. “As a global media company, their engagement will be very valuable to disseminate information about the sustainability efforts and achievements of the fashion industry as well as informing the world about the need for wider and accelerated climate action.”

The Charter’s other manufacturing and retail signatories include  Nike, Burberry, and PUMA among others , that have promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions from their operations, use more sustainable materials, and develop circular production models.

Other  Condé Nast’ brands such as  GQ, Wired, and AD  will also join the push to educate consumers and champion more sustainable approaches from the fashion industry.

The firm also said it will, for the first time, disclose its environmental footprint and set carbon reduction targets next year, while also phasing out fossil fuel-based plastic wrapping for its magazines.

Conde Nast CEO Roger Lynch said that  “We have a responsibility to use the power of those brands to help raise awareness, define terms of change, and point to solutions to ensure our audiences and our industry are informed and engaged in taking climate action.”

For perspective, the ongoing trend towards’fast fashion’ has taken a heavy toll on the environment across the value chain, especially manufacturing countries.  From poisoned rivers to high greenhouse emissions and resources extraction,   to slave like working conditions, to questionable margin escalation between manufacturing to final  sale. Even recycling has not been done on the scale it should be.

It’s a tough call to change the sector, which has changed beyond shape on the back of manufacturing shifts to the developing world and  flexible manufacturing that enables design and style changes to spread very fast. Anecdotal evidence indicates that the cost of everyday wear has barely moved in a decade, thanks to this outsourcing.

With a global supply chain, simply cutting consumption for instance, is not an option possibly, with the likely impact being felt in places like Bangladesh, India, Vietnam.  In sector after sector, the final push for change has generally been an economic case, but considering the outsize impact of fashion, a fashion influencer like Conde Nast  can certainly make an impact by taking a stand with its influential readers.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna Singh is the founder at IamRenew

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