How the fashion world responds to the needs of modern society
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Denis Logvinenko, managing partner of Havas Digital, specifically for vogue.ua analyzed the advertising messages of fashion brands and told how the fashion industry reacts to the current agenda.

Stella McCartney Fall-Winter 2017/2018

Advertising has ceased to be advertising. Now it’s not enough to take a beautiful shot and place it before the eyes of the “target audience”. We are no longer the target audience, we are society. And brands, along with their communications, do not just inform us, they are responsible to us for what they bring to the world. This is social responsibility.

The fashion industry has come under serious distribution. For a couple of years, the media has been trumpeting that fashion is in the top 10 most polluting industries. A progressive society also condemns fashion for non-environmental communication: for example, for replicating too narrow ideas about beauty. Even in 2019, judging by the catwalks, beauty is basically very thin white young cisgender people. For example, 2017 was the first year in the history of New York Fashion Week, when at least one non-white model participated in each show.

Prabal Gurung Fall-Winter 2019/2020

But any way beyond the framework of established stereotypes causes heated discussion. So in 2017, at London Fashion Week, Simone Rocha attracted attention by releasing four models from the age of 50 to 73 years that won the hearts of viewers and media on the catwalk.

Simone Rocha fall-winter 2017/2018

Society, tired of waiting for the industry to catch up with its expectations, undertook to set fashion for fashion. Consumer demands responsibility from brands. Many designers have long gone ahead of the spirit of the times and responsibility for them is no longer a fresh trend, but a matter of life.

Legends like Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney are prime examples. Everyone has heard about the regular Adidas & Stella McCartney collaborations made from recycled polyester and organic cotton, or Parley Ultra Boost X sneakers made from ocean plastic. The new brainchild of the collaboration is a 100% recyclable hoodie. So far this is a concept: only 50 of them were released, which is ridiculous compared to 92 million tons of textile waste from the fashion industry per year. But Adidas’s promise to release 11 million running shoes from ocean trash is far more significant. After all, everything was once a concept.

Recycled Adidas Sneakers

A lot of brands, from high to mass fashion, rushed to announce their social responsibility. Patagonia, an outdoor clothing brand, successfully uses social responsibility to emphasize the quality of clothing. The company teaches its customers to buy less through the principle of “repair, recycle, reuse” not in a word, but in deed – it takes in repairing old clothes, exchanges things for new ones, places calls not to buy its new collection if it really is not needed. Thus, the brand not only contributes to a new conscious culture of consumption, but also demonstrates confidence in the durability and quality of its products.

Patagonia Advertising Campaign

There is another side to the coin: the efforts of some brands look fake. After the sensational fires in factories in Bangladesh, many of the fast-fashion giants, such as Walmart or GAP, especially briskly rushed into social responsibility. It is the saving on labor safety that allows (along with child labor and cheap salaries) to maintain the profitability of the seasonal change of collections in the “fast fashion” segment, but it jeopardizes human lives – along with sustainable business principles.

One of the most active in this direction among mass-market brands is H&M, which not only participates in a number of coalitions of fashion brands for the joint implementation of sustainable practices, but also accepts old clothes for processing and regularly releases recycled collections. Compared to total production volumes, these figures are still small, but the trend itself inspires hope for a gradual change in the situation.

Image from the H&M Conscious Collection

Social responsibility also affects the conservation of biodiversity. For the second year, Lacoste has released a limited-edition polo with ten endangered species instead of its iconic crocodile. It is difficult to objectively assess whether this helps more — the endangered species or the brand’s sales, but the fashion does its job: some of these initiatives nevertheless go from pr-tricks to concrete measures. So, London Fashion Week in 2018 officially banned natural fur and leather at its shows. At the same time, Gucci, Versace, Burberry, and Michael Kors abandoned the fur.

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There are cases when a new niche itself acts as a social responsibility: now more and more brands of clothes for trans men appear, for example gc2b, Sharpe Suiting, TomboyX. They create styles taking into account the peculiarities of physique and the desires of their target audience to strengthen or hide some of them. For example, visually increase the shoulders or reduce the hips.

But unlike niche brands, big fashion still shows close to zero diversity in age, size, skin color and many other parameters. The percentage of trans-women and non-binary people among the models on the catwalks of the four fashion centers in the world in 2019 ranged from 1.23% to 0.77%. Only the share of plus-size models is smaller – 0.6%. This is sad statistics, but also a huge potential for fashion brands to choose their positions and take action to make the world a better place.

Valentina Sampaio – transgender model who became the face of Victoria's Secret

Read also:

Eco-conscious fashion: how to grow a wardrobe

Beauty in diversity: how Victoria's Secret becomes inclusive

Rodarte Launched Plus-Size Clothing Line

. (tagsToTranslate) ecology and fashion (t) fashion and plus-size models (t) fashion and working conditions

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