La Croix: The French are increasingly concerned about the carbon footprint of the textile sector. However, brands that sell clothing at first prices are booming. Don’t consumers behave ambivalently?
Elisabeth Laville: These last decades have accustomed us to fast fashion, an industry characterized by bargain prices and a very abundant supply. And lately, we’ve been seeing actors – like Primark or Shein – come to the end of the model, with t-shirts at 3 or 5 €. Buyers are sensitive to this, especially in a period of economic crisis.
But we can’t just single out these (often young) consumers. There are not on the one hand those who have understood everything about climate change and are making an effort, and on the other hand those who close their eyes and consume badly. In reality, everyone knows that we have to change. And we all act in the same way, sometimes selfish, attracted by the bargain and sometimes more thoughtful.
But brands get the consumers they deserve. When they bombard consumers with sales and promotions, then they generate reactions of overconsumption.
What efforts should these companies make to rise to the climate emergency?
E. L: Today, many brands are greening their production. But only on the surface: with organic cotton, recycled or second-hand materials… It’s a bit like green growth to preserve the model, but it’s not enough. In reality, the challenge is to bring these brands to fundamentally change their model, to slow down the rhythm of collections and to produce less, but better.
But we can also see the glass as half full: a lot is changing thanks to new regulations. In France, the Agec law, introduced on January 1, 2023, requires brands to display the origin of products, to specify the proportion of recycled materials, and prohibits throwing away unsold items. We are also considering the creation of an “eco-score”, like the “nutri-score” in food, and more and more brands are making efforts on the repairability of their products.
These new regulations are essential: they will push companies to integrate these requirements into the very design of their offer and to rethink their economic model.
Is totally eco-responsible fashion possible?
E. L: Some brands were born with these values of ethics and sustainability. Starting with Patagonia, for example, which laid the foundations for new, traceable and sustainable practices.
Today, new brands are innovating in terms of eco-responsibility. For example, the Picture brand offers clothing rental; the Veja brand opens shoe repair shops to repair all types of shoes… These smaller brands have the merit of consistency, which gives them visibility and leads to commercial success, which also forces the big brands to change.
Leave a Reply