WILL THE FUTURE FACE OF RETAIL HAVE SUSTAINABILITY AT ITS CORE?
V&V co-founder Vanessa Brain certainly hopes so. In this blog she ponders what the future of fashion retail could look like and what we might find inhabiting the iconic retail spaces that once housed fashion’s flagship stores.
As the country, in theory, returns to normal this week what will this mean for our high streets? Retail analysts continue to speculate whether footfall will return to pre-covid levels, or if our new online shopping habits will persist requiring the remaining bricks and mortar stores to reinvent themselves.
With all this uncertainty, surely now is the perfect chance to reinvent the way we sell fashion. Could fashion’s ambitions for a circular economy finally come to fruition: where the clothing we buy is made from old garments and, when it reaches the end of its life, is transformed again into another new item.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if the concept of landfill became an exception for clothing as we find ways to re-utilise the waste our industry produces?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if retail became a fully immersive activity giving us the chance to engage and understand the life cycle of the materials used to produce our products.
Fast forward to 2041
‘214 Oxford Street’ (Top Shop’s flagship store from 1994 to 2021) is once again a go-to destination for fashion, lifestyle and cosmetic products. But now, as we enter the store technology presents us with seamlessly curated wardrobe options according to our unique preferences, gathered by the ‘Alexa’ of tomorrow in its daily interactions with us.
Occasion clothing is rented from concept spaces within the store, where 3D body scanners automatically scan us as we enter to ensure that fit will always be perfect.
Our perception of purchase has changed. Rental is the norm: we will borrow not buy our consumer goods. We have contracts with all our technology providers and it is their responsibility to keep our tech up to date and in best working order to ensure longevity.
Virtual reality pods allow us to follow the journey of a product through all its stages of production bringing it to life and highlighting sustainable practises along the supply chain – we can meet the farmer and the makers to see the impact our purchase has made for them.
Biosynthetic fabrics dominate for core products such as underwear and lounge wear. They are made from feedstock provided by our own composted waste, which councils collect and pass directly to the fibre industry. So, we effectively grow our own clothes.
Innovation in smart fibres gives us self-cleaning fabrics – ensuring there are never micro-particles distributed into the water system and water itself is conserved as regular laundering is not needed.
Technical clothing for sports utilises thermosensitive features to keep us warm when we are cold and cool when we are hot.
Retail spaces hold re-work and repair workshops to share skills on how to extend the lifetime of clothing and customise products.
In store cafes grow their own fresh products, with hydroponic walls providing live carbon offsetting whilst we drink our organic coffee and wonder why fashion wasn’t always as great as this.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if even half of these innovations became reality? We would be a long way toward achieving a balance between consumption, circularity and minimising waste. Smashing climate targets and revolutionising our consumer habits.
Whilst some of these ideas might sound a long way off, there are game changing entrepreneurs all over the globe already taking steps in this direction. For inspiration have a look at climate-smart plant based fibres such as desserto leather, made from cactus and saving a staggering 1862% of GHG emissions when compared with conventional leather. Or Unspun, which reduces waste during production by creating jeans bespoke to the wearer using body scanning technology.
Now’s the time for us to scale these innovations to become the industry norm. Let’s dream big and work smart to make the hopes of tomorrow a reality. Get in touch with V&V to see how we can support you to source smarter, sustainable fibres and develop circular practises for your brand. Just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to learn more about sustainability in the Covid world? Read our blog.