Images: ©Pure London
Over 250 independent retailers have downloaded Pure London’s Independent Retailers Sustainability Toolkit which launched at the Pure London event on the 12th-14th of February and is available now to download from the Pure London website. The global fashion buying platform for womenswear, accessories, jewelry, and footwear launched the Toolkit at the dedicated Sustainability Hub which attracted over 250 retailers throughout the three-day event.
With nearly 14,000 independent fashion retailers in the UK, the Toolkit has been created as an invaluable resource, providing a step-by-step guide with tangible and practical information on everything from reducing carbon footprint and energy consumption to sustainable packaging, to help them embrace sustainability in their business and together make a huge difference.
Image: ©Pure London Sustainability Hub
Image: ©Pure London Sustainability Panel
Olivia Pinnock, Pure London’s Sustainability Ambassador, and author of the toolkit chaired a thought-provoking panel during the February event on Succeeding in Sustainable Retail. Joined by Simon Bell, COO & Co-Founder of Immaculate Vegan, Josefin Wanner, Fashion Designer Co-Founder of Tråd Collective, and Kalkidan Legesse, CEO of OWNI and founder of Sancho’s in Exeter, Olivia tackled the challenges and opportunities facing retailers and introduced the toolkit to a packed audience.
Olivia said, “As retailers, we must appreciate that small businesses often don’t have the time and resources to invest in their sustainability initiatives, but at Pure London, we really believe that they have a role to play in creating a more sustainable fashion industry here in the UK. Our Sustainability Toolkit can really help you understand how you can make small changes to your business for big impact.”
Kalkidan commented, “The beauty of being a small independent is that you can really build a company around your value system, and you have the freedom to make choices that larger companies don’t have because they have complex organizational structures. So much innovation in sustainability, even in design and creativity is coming from small organizations. The real opportunity for us is to try things that our larger peers would never dare to try to, for fear of loss of market.”
Simon added, “Startups are unconstrained by legacy models, you can do what you like, and you can be the vanguard of change. With smaller companies it’s often easier to get buy-in, they’re often owner-driven businesses so it’s very easy to portray your passion and bring it to the fore, and you have the ability to change the model and with that, the opportunity to potentially charge more for products that mean more. What we’re seeing at Immaculate Vegan is that increasingly consumers are open to have that discourse, buying less and buying more purposefully.”
The Independent Sustainability Toolkit investigates the key areas retailers need to address on their journey to become more sustainable with easy-to-understand statistics and research, practical advice, balanced views, activity worksheets, and links to further resources. The toolkit is split into four comprehensive chapters making it more accessible for retailers.
Mapping Your Impact and Creating a Strategy
The first chapter empowers retailers to create a sustainability plan by exploring the core principles of sustainability strategies, helping retailers to understand their current impact on the environment and set realistic goals to move forward on their journeys. The toolkit explains, “Your sustainability strategy will be a work in progress that grows and develops the more you understand, the more viable solutions come to market and the more you understand what works for you and your business.” It continues, “Once you have a baseline to work from, you can begin to set goals to work towards. Goals give you a clear focus and can be helpful when communicating your sustainability commitments to your staff and customers.” This first chapter also covers the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and why they can be a useful tool for businesses to adopt and use as a guide to incorporate sustainable practices into their operations.
The Shop Environment
The second chapter explores the shop environment and focuses on, packaging, water, electricity and gas use, end-of-season stock, shop fittings, and fixtures, e-commerce, and staff. The toolkit explains, “The majority of your business’ footprint will come from your suppliers but making changes in your shop environment still has an important role to play. Any step, no matter how small, is important if we are to meet the UK government’s net zero targets by 2050. It also helps demonstrate your commitment to sustainability to your customers and actions such as cutting out waste and making your shop more energy efficient can save you money too.” It continues, “No one person or business can tackle the climate crisis on their own but bringing people together for change can have a huge ripple effect.”
Sourcing Sustainable Suppliers
This section of the Toolkit energizes retailers to challenge their suppliers to provide adequate proof that their products are being made in a responsible way. It highlights the importance of direct questions which cut through generalizations and allow retailers to be more informed on the sustainable credentials of any product. The chapter also tackles the challenge of identifying sustainable brands and signposts organizations and certifications that retailers can reference.
Cutting through the noise the toolkit directly explains, “Circularity has become something of a buzzword in a sustainable fashion. In its simplest terms, a circular economy is a system in which goods and resources are kept in use for as long as possible.” It continues, “UK citizens have 118 items of clothing in their wardrobe, 26% of which has gone unworn in the last year, and yet 45% of people bought new clothing each month. A circular model embraces a number of solutions to reduce our unsustainable reliance on raw materials, extend the lifespan of the clothing we use and bring it back into the system, or back to nature, at the end of use. Circularity is not a product or business model, it is a way of running our economy and involves collective effort from multiple stakeholders.” Retailers can then learn about the actions already adopted by some in the market to create a more circular economy, recycling, repairs and upcycling, rental, and resale.
Speaking to your customers about sustainability
“Drapers’ Sustainability and the Consumer Report 2022 found that 77% of consumers across multiple age categories think about sustainability when making a purchase, and 45% believe the responsibility lies with retailers and brands, more than governments, manufacturers, and consumers.” After presenting these powerful statistics this chapter of the toolkit goes on to cover different consumer group attitudes to sustainability and the importance for retailers of avoiding greenwashing.
The toolkit also presents two insightful and informative independent retailer case studies with Trad Collective in Leeds and winner of the High Street Shop of the Year Sancho’s in Exeter, sharing how they embrace sustainability in their business and the benefits to their business, as well as Fashion Lectures videos with Olivia on Climate Crisis, Circularity, and Sustainability.
Gloria Sandrucci, Event Director of Pure London says, “Little over a week ago Pure London hosted its AW23 edition at Olympia London and I was overwhelmed by the positive response from brands, buyers, and visitors. As a global platform for fashion, we have a responsibility to educate, inform and advise retailers on the most challenging issues facing the industry. Across the three-day event our Sustainability Ambassador, Olivia met with hundreds of independent retailers to give them tailored 1-2-1 advice and support in their sustainability journeys. During and following the event we have continued to see many small business owners downloading the Toolkit and feedback on this unique resource has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Pure London will return to Olympia on the 16th – 18th of July 2023, serving up even more innovations; diverse, new, sustainable, and international brands; the latest trends and creative presentations; as well as the industry’s leaders and changemakers – delivering an exclusive showcase that cannot be found elsewhere.
Pure London returns to Olympia London on the 16th-18th of July 2023
About Olivia Pinnock
Olivia Pinnock is a respected journalist and expert on sustainable fashion. Olivia founded ‘The Fashion Debates’, a series of events aimed at raising awareness and exploring solutions to issues of sustainability and social justice for the industry. She has also lent her expert voice to TV and radio panels, as well as lecturing in communication, sustainability, and activism at the London College of Fashion.
Source and Images: www.goodresults.co.uk