Well Trump is President of the United States and Boris Johnson is Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. You are awake, you are reading this, this is real! So what hope do Mr Trump and his stunt double offer to sustainable fashion?
When talking about sustainable fashion we are talking about the process of harnessing change in the fashion world, heading towards a more clean and green, fair and ethical production process, as well as producing high quality and timeless designs.
With Mr Trump stating that "climate change doesn’t exist" then it's quite true that the future doesn’t look bright. Only to add to it that on June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Essentially meaning that the global effort to reduce carbon emissions is not on the cards for the U.S. Trump stated that "The Paris accord will undermine the U.S. economy,".
What does this mean for the sustainable fashion industry? Well given the fact that the fashion industry is a huge contributor to pollution, Trump’s decision is especially discouraging. The sector’s CO2 emissions are expected to increase by more than 60 percent to nearly 2.8 billion tons per year by 2030, according to a recent report by the Global Fashion Agenda and The Boston Consulting Group.
Additionally Trump's proposed border taxes; implementing high import tariffs for those businesses outside of the U.S. poses a significant threat to sustainable fashion brands. For example small sustainable fashion brands that have adopted business models that support and engage with communities outside of the U.S. may be put out of business. For example Vayu is a sustainable U.S. brand selling handcrafted woven bags for women. Vayu works with women artisans to preserve the Mexican tradition of weaving robozos and partners with a foundation that offers sewing classes to women. Vayu keeps this trade in business making sure these women can make a living off it. With higher import tariffs these ethical and sustainable brands will likely suffer due to high import tariffs and as a result having to increase the cost of their products.
The British fashion industry is a significant contributor to the UK economy, bringing £32.3 billion in 2017. Many fashion businesses rely on duty free imports and international sales, as well as depending on a globally interconnected supply chain. So how will Brexit affect sustainable fashion brands?
Ethical and sustainable fashion brands naturally have a higher cost or production due to paying fair wages, as well as using better quality and long-lasting materials compared to cheap materials and low paid labour, used in much of the fast fashion world . As the pound falls, decreased profit margins are already damaging those sustainable brands that are now potentially paying almost up to a third more for their supplies, especially if they are paying in Euros, which many are! As a result brands will have to increase their product prices but will the consumer justify this new price?
As prices rise, sustainable brands will find it hard to compete against the cheaper brands that consumers can afford, preventing growth and success for future sustainable brands as well as contributing to an increase in waste due to cheaper products not lasting.
Does it paint a pretty picture for sustainable fashion? Not really. However although there are potential barriers to overcome in the world of Trump and Brexit, it is evident that over the last decade we have seen a remarkable increase in the rise of small sustainable brands, as well as some of the larger more well-known brands are adopting eco-friendly and ethical methods of production and are ditching their old ways.
Sustainability is a hot topic today and is extensively talked about on social media; it is quite hard to enter and compete in the market today without values associated with a sustainable and ethical business model. We are seeing a steady increase in small sustainable fashion brands and they certainly are not showing any sign of slowing down.
Where there is drive, there is potential to survive.