Sustainability in the Fashion Industry: Ecoalf

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    • 00:06

      [Sustainability in the Fashion Industry]

    • 00:11

      BARRY EMERY: Hello everybody.My name is Barry Emery. [Barry Emery, Senior Lecturer,Birmingham City University] And I'ma lecturer in the business school at Birmingham CityUniversity.And my specialist area is sustainability.I've chosen this case study today,because it represents how fashion companies in the futurewill be able to be as sustainable as possible

    • 00:32

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: and still be a profitable company.This particular company is a niche operator,and niche operators provide us with very good examplesof how to organize a business along sustainable lines.[The Sustainable Choice]Certain types of businesses find themselves on the front line

    • 00:53

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: when they're dealing with sustainability issues.These kinds of businesses can eitherhave very strong negative effects on the environment,or they can have very good positive effectson the environment.These kinds of businesses are oftenin large, worldwide industries, such as the cosmetics industry

    • 01:15

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: or the fashion industry.These companies make for very interesting case studies,as we can see their true potentialfor reducing negative impacts and improvingthe positive impacts of their business activity,sometimes to such an extent that they're actually giving backto people and planet, rather than just taking

    • 01:37

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: away or just being neutral.The fashion industry, in particular,will have to deal with many of the challengesof the sustainability agenda.These challenges can certainly beseen in the supply chain of the fashion industry,as it relies heavily on both natural, renewable resources

    • 01:58

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: and non-renewable resources in orderto produce the fabrics and the accessories for fashion.For example, the reliance on natural renewable resources,such as cotton, actually create many negative impactsin the fashion industry.

    • 02:19

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: This has resulted in the overuse of artificial fertilizersand pesticides in order to maintain cotton productionat very high levels.And unfortunately, this often takes placein the less developed countries of the world.Cotton is also a very, very thirsty crop.

    • 02:39

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: It takes a lot of water to grow cotton.And a single cotton T-shirt can actuallyinvolve some 2,000 liters of waterfrom growing the crop to gaining the finished product.Alternatively, synthetic fabrics alsocause their own set of problems because they rely heavilyon nonrenewable resources, such as oil.

    • 03:02

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: [Context]If we look closely at the context of the fashionindustry, we can see that some fashion providers are alreadystarting to incorporate sustainabilityinto their operations.For example, some retailers are nowoffering lines in sustainable cotton or fair trade cotton

    • 03:25

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: to their customers as a means of reducingthe impact of that type of clothing on the planet.Perhaps the best known retailer planfor sustainability at the moment is Marks and Spencer's Plan A.This was first launched in 2007 under the slogan

    • 03:48

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: Plan A, because there is no Plan B. Since its launch in 2007,the plan has been renewed in 2014.The revamped plan contained 100 commitmentsfrom Marks and Spencer to reduce its impactand to continue to integrate sustainability

    • 04:10

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: into its business activities.For example, Marks and Spencer currentlyhas 20% of its cotton from organic fair trade or cottoninitiative sources.And it hopes to extend this by 2020to incorporate 50% of its cotton from these sources.

    • 04:31

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: However, not all mainstream providers of fashionare as engaged with sustainabilityas they could be.Frequently, it's the niche operators, the niche providersof sustainable fashion, which provide the best examplesfor us to study and for us to learn how the sector might

    • 04:53

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: be developing in the future along more sustainable lines.[Challenges]Any business that wants to become a sustainableprovider of fashion products faces at least threekey challenges to its business.First of all, the business needs to understand how to access,

    • 05:16

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: how to choose, and how to use the most sustainable fabricsand materials available on the marketplace.Second, the business needs to understand howto access its target market.And finally, very importantly, the businessneeds to understand how to address the target market

    • 05:39

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: and to what extent it will use its sustainability credentialsto attract its target market.Or maybe it will go along more conventional marketing linesto attract its target market.[Javier Goyeneche &Ecoalf]This was the very same situation faced by Javier Goyeneche,

    • 06:00

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: the founder and CEO of the sustainable fashion companycalled Ecoalf.Javier Goyeneche was very dissatisfied with the qualityof the materials available to make fashion garmentsand accessories more sustainable.When he looked at other providers of fashion garments

    • 06:22

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: which claimed to be sustainable, hefound that they only used between 10% and 20%of recycled material in their garments.Also, many of the products producedby competing companies-- they were actually notvery pleasant, not very attractive, not very good

    • 06:43

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: to touch, to have on the skin, and perhaps not designed to befashionable, more functional.Javier Goyeneche decided to change thisand to actually make goods which weremuch more desirable and, at the same time,much more sustainable.Facing these key challenges, Goyeneche asked himself,

    • 07:06

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: why do I need to use new materials when thereare plenty of materials out therethat have already been used once.What's the potential for the reuse of those materials?In order to deal with this problem,Goyeneche decided to use waste rather than brandnew raw materials, whether they be from natural sources

    • 07:29

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: or non-renewable resources.As Ecoalf and Goyeneche says, where other people see trash,we see high-quality raw material.The high-quality raw materials used by Ecoalfmight sound a bit strange to some of you.They use post-industrial waste in terms

    • 07:50

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: of cotton and wool, plastic bottles, spent coffee grounds,old car tires, and even fishing nets,to produce their materials and their fabrics.In this way, Goyeneche has decidedto base his business on product innovationthrough the very innovative use of recycled materials.

    • 08:16

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: In this way, he's able to produce goods which contain80% to 100% recycled material.And they can be recycled.Goyeneche wanted to ensure that the recycled materials he usedwere always of the highest qualityand that this was combined with design.

    • 08:38

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: It should be noted that Ecoalf is in the fashion business.It's a designer.It's not a recycling business.In this way, Ecoalf has a very different business model.In order to carry out its business activity,it has set up a network of providersof sustainable fabric and sustainable materials

    • 09:02

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: from all around the world.Currently, they have some 18 members in their network.So, when Ecoalf wants to make fabric from spent coffeegrounds, they go to Taiwan.In Taiwan, they have an agreement with 7-Eleven storesto use all of their spent coffee grounds.

    • 09:22

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: And there in Taiwan, they are recycled and made into fabricto be designed into Ecoalf products.In Spain, where they collect used car tires,those are recycled on site in Spainand they are made into sandals.In Korea, fishing nets are collected and recycled

    • 09:44

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: to make another fabric for some of Ecoalf's products.[Ecoalf's Target Market]Having resolved the issue of supply chainand having a constant supply of quality recycled materialand goods, Ecoalf could then concentrate on how

    • 10:05

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: to reach its target market.Ecoalf actually only has one retail store of its ownbased in Madrid, but it does have a network of 330 storesworldwide where you can find its goods.In this way, Ecoalf reduces to a minimum

    • 10:25

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: its costs of retail distribution,but it maximizes its reach.In order to improve and invest in its appealto its target market, Ecoalf has lookedfor alliances and collaborations with other peoplein other organizations.

    • 10:45

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: For example, it produced a jacketfor Goop, that's Gwyneth Paltrow's online fashionwebsite, and within two days, the jacket designed for Goophad been sold out.More recently, Ecoalf has contributedto the work of will.i.am and his own sustainable fashion brand

    • 11:09

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: called EKOCYCLE, in collaboration with Coca-Cola.Ecoalf have also produced accessories for the Apple brandfor the iPhone and iPads.[More Than Just a Business]Many sustainable brands go beyond their remit,they feel the need to give back, not just

    • 11:33

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: to do business and make a profit.And Ecoalf is of those companies that goes beyond its remitand sometimes engages in activities which don't exactlymake it money but contribute to a greater well-being.For example, the company's latest venture

    • 11:53

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: is to collect plastic from the sea.They've reached an agreement with 3,000 trawlermenfrom the Mediterranean coast.And whenever the trawlermen collect,along with the fish, of course, plastic waste from the sea,rather than throwing it back in the sea,that plastic is collected by Ecoalf

    • 12:14

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: and recycled and made into new products.[Conclusion]Ecoalf is a small company.It has just 21 employees, but it is a very successful company.It continues to invest some 17% of its incomeinto research and development and stays

    • 12:35

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: true to its idea of innovation, quality, and design, togetherwith sustainability, to produce its goods.The fact that it invests so much in research and developmentmeans that its prices are still high.It still uses a premium pricing strategy.But it's quirky, it's fun, interesting to look at,

    • 12:59

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: interesting to see, and probably interesting to wear, as well.Ecoalf does preach sustainability in its marketingcommunications.But it's not overbearing, it's soft, it's subtle,it's in the background on many occasions,and it does add a nice back story to its products

    • 13:20

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: and the origin of its products.[Reflective questions]Sustainability has clearly influenced Ecoalf's businessstrategy and has become the main driver of its businessdecision-making.If you were to advise Ecoalf on how to continue in the future,

    • 13:41

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: what advice would you give?Can Ecoalf remain a niche brand, or will its novelty valuewear off and its target market move on to another operator?Should Ecoalf attempt to mainstream its offer,broaden its appeal, and try to enlarge its target market?

    • 14:04

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: If Ecoalf decided to do that, how would it go about it?Ecoalf's marketing, communications,are a mixture of sustainability messagesas well as messages of style and design,as you would expect from a provider of fashion.Is this the right mix of communications?

    • 14:25

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: Ecoalf actually spends quite a lotof time telling its consumers how its products are made,what are the individual components of its products,and where they come from.Is this the right way to go in the future?Or should it leave to one side its sustainability messages

    • 14:46

      BARRY EMERY [continued]: and focus more purely on fashion and design and style?Is it logical to be a business whichis focused on sustainability but actually not talkabout sustainability at all?

Sustainability in the Fashion Industry: Ecoalf

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Abstract

Professor Barry Emery discusses sustainability in the context of the fashion industry. Sustainable fashion is usually found in the niche operators, not in the mainstream fashion providers. Niche operator Ecoalf produces goods out of waste, such as plastic bottles, used coffee grounds, and old car tires.

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Sustainability in the Fashion Industry: Ecoalf

Professor Barry Emery discusses sustainability in the context of the fashion industry. Sustainable fashion is usually found in the niche operators, not in the mainstream fashion providers. Niche operator Ecoalf produces goods out of waste, such as plastic bottles, used coffee grounds, and old car tires.

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