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Drapers Sustainable Fashion 2020: Closing the gap between 'intention' and 'action'

Price, convenience and attitudes towards eco-friendly products and services are the biggest barriers to sustainable behaviour, panellists told delegates at Drapers Sustainable Fashion 2020 today. 

Helen Goworek, a lecturer on retail, fashion and sustainability at Durham University (right), and Emma Slade Edmondson, founder of the ESE Consultancy – an agency that focuses on brands working towards “doing good” (centre, with Drapers’ Jill Geoghegan) – spoke about narrowing the gap between “intention” and “action”.

Goworek, who formerly worked in fashion buying and design, kicked off the discussion, saying: “Many people here today probably want to be sustainable – but you are probably not going to do that in many cases.

“That’s because the biggest barrier, which our research shows, is price. Price will be the number one barrier.”

Edmondson agreed: “Convenience, price and the attitude of people around you are the biggest barriers.”

Goworek and Edmonson called for regulatory measures to help close the gap.

“It is very difficult for brands and retailers when competitors might think differently,” said Goworek. “I think there needs to be some kind of regulation for there to be a level playing field across the board. For example, level packaging. If the government said only X amount of packaging is allowed, then everyone can pull back and do that.

“However, we might not want them to come in and set unrealistic targets. Alternatively, maybe a body like the British Fashion Council or the British Retail Consortium gets together to set some guidelines that people are willing to adhere to. It needs to be collaborative.”

She added that everyone should be responsible for breaking down the barriers: “The responsibility lies equally between consumers, retailers, government, manufacturers, suppliers. It’s gradual and involves all parties.”

Edmondson said: “The change in 18 months is miraculous. But although we are in the decade of action, we are very much in the education phase and all still learning.”


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