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This piece from the report concerns renewed momentum around sustainability:
While sustainability is nothing new and reports of Chinese consumers’ interest in all things natural and environmentally responsible have been spoken about for some time, there does seem to be new momentum across fashion, beauty, and hospitality sectors in China to act.
China’s textile giant Shandong Ruyi, and the owner of brands such as Bally, the SMCP group, and Aquascutum, signed the Fashion Pact ahead of the G7 Summit in September 2019. As the only Chinese corporation, Ruyi has very publicly committed to the Pact’s three goals of:
• Stopping global warming through a “zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050” action plan;
• Restoring biodiversity by protecting species and restoring natural ecosystems; and
• Protecting the oceans by removing the fashion industry’s usage of single-use plastics.
In October 2019, Kering announced Chinese startups Melephant, Heyuan and FeiLiu Technology as the winners of its inaugural sustainable innovation “K Generation Awards.” Melephant created natural dyes from organic waste, while Heyuan has developed an innovative water treatment technology for printing and dyeing, and FeiLiu leverages artificial intelligence to optimize supply chains reducing over production.
More recently, Sweden’s H&M Group has partnered with Chinese fashion subscription rental company YCloset. The partnership explores new circular economy models in the world’s biggest fashion market as their brand COS works on the new initiative (featured image above). YCloset is China’s biggest fashion rental platform with 15 million registered users.
In beauty, Kantar Worldpanel’s recent report shows that the Asian consumer is more than ever taking a holistic approach to health and wellness, which extends to demanding more natural, safe and medicinal ingredients and options. According to Kantar, 17% of Chinese beauty brand Chando’s value is driven by ingredients sourced from the Himalayas, while another local brand Herborist derives 14% of value from Traditional Chinese Medicine recipes.
Bulldog became the first cruelty-free certified cosmetics brand to sell in China. And as reported by Vogue in April, China is to lift the requirement of animal testing of beauty products in 2020. Additionally, we have seen brands from Allbirds to Everlane enter the China market this year with their responsible business models. In FMCG, Green Common has launched a Tmall Global store for its vegan foods and the plant-based “meat” producer Impossible Meats considers China it’s biggest opportunity as a host of local players are ramping up their activity in the sector.
Hotels in Shanghai have been asked to stop offering disposable toiletry kits in the city’s attempt to reduce plastic waste. Shangri-La kicked off its China-wide Race for Hope campaign by launching a dedicated Shangri-La Caring Forest on Alipay’s Ant Forest platform. The Group’s virtual forest has been watered over 390,000 times to support reforestation in desertified areas of China.
So, across sectors, brands in China are making strides to help reduce the impact of businesses and consumers on the environment with a renewed focus. As noted by State of Fashion 2020 report by McKinsey and Business of Fashion, sustainability is one of the key topics on industry leaders’ minds looking ahead. What will be interesting to see is how brands will communicate about their sustainability or clean credentials to consumers, and whether the consumer can distinguish real impactful efforts from mere “green-washing” in 2020.
Photo credit: We Folk
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