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Greenwashing: Sustainable Awareness or Marketing Gimmick?

Greenwashing: Sustainable Awareness or Marketing Gimmick?

Sustainability is a big part of today’s fashion industry. More brands are tackling the environmental impact their clothes are producing. I have previously spoken about the importance of consumers and brands being sustainable. Today, I will explore the concept of greenwashing and whether or not it sustainability carries significance.

What is Greenwashing?

Many brands today are thinking about sustainability, because it is becoming a rising concern for consumers. As consumers have the power to vote with their money, how can brands make themselves stand out amongst their competitors? Consumers are increasingly intelligent which leads to doubts over a company’s stance on sustainability.

“Greenwashing” means ‘the act or practice of making a product etc. appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really is’. This debate especially comes after Boohoo’s new fashion campaign in collaboration with Kourtney Kardashian-Barker. It raised the question on how one of the biggest fast fashion brands in the world can be sustainable? Releasing another fashion collection causes people to wonder if this is adding to the issue rather than fixing it. Up to 59% of all green claims made by European and UK fashion firms are false. They may constitute greenwashing, according to the non-profit Changing Markets Foundation’s July 2021 research. Labelling the collection as ‘sustainable’ could be seen as a marketing strategy to attract customers particularly interested in eco-friendly brands.

It also raised suspicion of the correlation between Kourtney Kardashian-Barker and sustainability. Kourtney is a follower of fashion because she is seen regularly in the latest trends. She also wears clothing from high-end designers – will this collaboration stop her from buying luxury fashion? Previous to this, when you think of sustainability, Kourtney would not be the first face that comes to mind. She has not been vocal about her views on this. So again, Boohoo may have hired Kourtney on this project as another marketing strategy to persuade consumers to purchase the collection.

Can labelling yourself a sustainable brand be beneficial?

Despite the Greenwashing claims fashion brands are accused of, it still has the potential to bring awareness to the public. Boohoo’s audience is said to be aimed at Millennials and Gen Z. For them, sustainability may not be their number one concern. Buying affordable clothing whilst keeping up with trends might be. For this reason, it may be a good thing for the brand to release a sustainable fashion line. They can reach out to that specific audience by showing them that you can still keep up with fashion whilst protecting the environment. Whilst it may not be the biggest breakthrough concept, the brands attempt to become sustainable even just a little is a step in the right direction. As fast fashion tends to be on such a large scale, the smallest changes can have a bigger impact than you think.

Following Boohoo and Kourtney Kardashian-Barker’s sustainability journey posted on their website and social media, Kourtney also spoke about their aim and wanting to start a conversation on sustainability. As she is an influencer with a following of over 190 million on Instagram, she has the power to educate her platform on issues such as worker welfare and textile waste.

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She has since responded to the backlash and posted her thoughts on her Instagram. She said, ‘fast fashion, or the fashion industry in general, isn’t going anywhere.’ That is a valid point which supports her reasoning for wanting to launch a sustainable fashion line under Boohoo. The greatest change we can make for our environment is to stop overproducing and overconsuming fashion. However, this is unrealistic as the fashion industry is a big part of globalisation.  

Final Thoughts

I think it is our responsibility to hold brands responsible for their statements and to raise key concerns. As a USP, firms can quickly get on the sustainability bandwagon and declare that they are utlising eco-friendly procedures and materials. When a fast fashion company introduces sustainable apparel, it’s natural to be sceptical. Any impact is preferable to none.

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