Latin American demand grows for sustainable fashion.

The carbon footprint of the fashion industry is larger than that of international flights and maritime shipping combined. As consumers become more conscious about what they buy, sustainable fashion is a growing trend in Latin America and globally. But are brands taking their social and environmental responsibilities seriously or is their marketing just greenwash?

A country manager for a global fashion brand in Chile explains the local context, “Using words such as ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ pushes sales a lot, we can see it through clicks on our website. Sustainability will be the basis of consumers’ purchasing decisions in a few years, rather than a trend it is a responsibility.”

While sustainable fashion may just be a marketing slogan today, all of our sources believe that the day is coming when sustainable fashion will be mandatory. A portfolio manager at a consumer-focused hedge fund explains, “Prada and Chanel have banking arrangements tied to their sustainability performance, this makes non-compliance or ‘greenwashing’ a serious risk to their businesses. The world is changing.”

“Prada and Chanel have banking arrangements tied to their sustainability performance.”

Portfolio manager, consumer-focused hedge fund

An executive of a global luxury brand agrees, “There are a growing number of social and environmental audits taking place, brands can’t just claim sustainability and hope no one checks. Investors are much more sophisticated than that and sustainability is becoming more important to them and their clients.

Unsurprisingly, a board member of a fast-fashion company believes they can pass on all costs to their suppliers, “It’s a negotiation, but the supplier must bear the higher cost because if it doesn’t get certified and agree to our prices then, they will go out of business.”

The country manager for a global fashion brand believes the real negotiation is between the brand and the consumer, “Part of the cost will be absorbed by the company and part by the consumer, it will be a commitment from both sides. The consumer must be educated so that they value these sustainability efforts.”

“Part of the cost will be absorbed by the company and part by the consumer, it will be a commitment from both sides.”

Country manager, global fashion brand, Chile

For Latin American brands, key elements of their sustainability initiatives are ‘producing and buying locally’ and creating ‘durable and timeless’ pieces. A local young designer explains, “We can’t follow trends that change every month so we focus on high quality garments that really last. Our customers have access to so much information these days, the only way to survive is to be open and transparent and offer something that resonates with their priorities.”

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