Last year’s annual report from Burberry announced that the company has burnt £28.6m ($37.2m in U.S. dollars) worth of bags, clothes and perfume to protect its brand. Unluckily for them a savvy journalist spotted this in their 2017 annual financial results.
Burberry is not alone
But what most consumers and even fashion professionals don’t realise is that this is a common practise in the fashion industry and not just consigned to Burberry. Every year the fashion industry burns billions of dollars worth of unsold clothes, footwear, and accessories. Why? Because they produce items consumers don’t want. And brands such as Burberry think that it would cheapen their brand to have someone sell them cheap. Therefore they believe they can’t donate their products to people in need – they are quick to try and erase proof that they ever existed.
There are alternatives to burning your collection
Millions of dollars worth of clothing, accessories and perfume gets burnt because consumers don’t want everything fashion brands produce. And brands such as Burberry think that it would cheapen their brand to have someone sell them on at cheap prices. Therefore they believe they can’t donate their products to people in need – they are quick to try and erase proof that they ever existed. Others global brands such as Adidas, Vans and New Balance have joined organisations such as From The Sole (www.itsfromthesole.org) to donate unsold products to charity – in this case footwear for the homeless.
But better planning is also needed to create more sustainable fashion to begin with. For us as a trend forecasting agency who tracks what consumers really want to buy in the future, the solution is simple: Produce less but better. So how does that work?
Sustainable fashion considerations
The reality is that the fashion industry is one of the worst for polluting the planet. This is because we are so obsessed with producing and wanting new stuff all the time. Not only do clothes and accessories get burnt if no-one wants to buy them such as is the case with Burberry.
Did you also know that dyeing just one 250g t-shirt takes 2,500 litres or 660 gallons of water? That’s the amount the average person drinks in 7 years!
And non-organic cotton typically takes 1 kg of chemicals to produce 1 kg of cotton. Not to mention that harmful heavy metals are involved in the dyeing process of wool. As for plastic, once produced plastic and nylon essentially never leaves the planet. So by producing more and more of it we are slowly but surely drowning ourselves in plastic. So if we were smart, we would stop the production of new plastic today and use only recycled plastic from now on.
Avoid risking your collection being burnt
As an industry, we believe fashion should make less, but better. We’ve seen that only 20-30% of many companies’ product ranges are responsible for 70-80% of the profits. In other words, 7 or 8 out of every 10 fashion items could simply be removed without hugely impacting the company’s revenue. And, because the company would actually save the cost of making those products, profits would likely increase as a result. When these undesirable products are made and they end up on the sales rail, that’s when profitability suffers. And if clothes, accessories and footwear further end up completely unwanted by the consumer such as those not only from Burberry but many other fashion brands too, they end up burnt or in landfill. This means that sadly the time, money and effort spent designing, manufacturing, transporting, warehousing, marketing and retailing these products has been a complete waste of time.
Our Method for Less but Better Fashion
At Trendstop we help companies understand their target audience. They can then focus on producing what consumers actually want to buy. The sales rails can be dramatically reduced and eventually even eliminated if the whole company gets behind this new way of doing things.
The Trendstop Method is a powerful tool for growing the ratio of highly profitable products in your range. This is not just offering what the customer is buying now, but what consumers want in future seasons. And it helps companies time product launches for when the consumers want them – Not too early, not too late, but just the right time to consistently hit that sweet spot of demand.
Sales rails are not good for anyone, they are not good for the company, they are not even good for the consumer, and they are certainly not good for the planet.
Creating a future for sustainable fashion
Trendstop founder Jaana Jätyri’s passion in life is to help companies make less, but better products. We want to empower our clients to leave a positive legacy for future generations by helping turn around how our industry does things. We inspire you to take one step towards being kinder to the planet. What decision can you make today towards saving the earth for future generations? Is there something you can do to make less, but better? I inspire you to take one step towards being kinder to the planet. Could you cut 20% of your worst performing ranges and focus on making what you do best even better?
We’d be happy to help. Contact us to discuss further.