sustainable-fashion-china

Leading sustainable fashion brands in China

Chinese fashion consumers are witnessing firsthand the disastrous impact of pollution not only on the environment but also on their health, resulting in demand for more sustainable fashion choices.

In fact, a report by the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2018 concluded that air pollution caused an average of 1.1 million premature deaths in the country.

Shanghai-based Daxue Consulting’s latest “Green Guilt Report: Sustainable Consumption in China” (published April 2022) supports growing consumer awareness of sustainable fashion. It reveals that 77% of Chinese consumers surveyed (75% of whom are based in major cities) are willing to pay 5-20% more for sustainable fashion products, with up to 20% of Chinese upper-class consumers willing to pay double. for such lines.

Sustainable Fashion Brands Succeeding in China

On the list of top Chinese “green fashion” brands is Icicle, which emphasizes sustainability and uses natural fabrics made from natural yarns such as cashmere, linen, wool, silk and cotton, with a “Made in Earth” brand slogan.. Concerning sourcing, a company note specifies: “We travel the world in search of exceptional textile producers with irreproachable ethical practices. Whether cashmere from Afghanistan and Inner Mongolia, linen from Belgium, wool from Italy, silk from China or organic cotton from Japan, our fabrics all meet exacting standards. ”

Ziran, which uses ‘xian yun sha silk – a sustainable and natural input using ancient craft methods to create luxury silk, has also been growing its sales in this growing niche..

To finish, Klee Klee, which translates to “slow down” in spoken Tibetan, uses eco-friendly materials and dyeing techniques, degradable packaging and recycled buttons, and is another company tapping into the growing sustainability share of the market Chinese.

The Tibetan name might hamper sales outside of China given Western awareness of the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950 and 1951, and the subsequent flight of the Dalai Lama in 1959, but these concerns are not a problem in mainland China, where most citizens see Tibet. as an integral part of the country.

In a note sent to this publication, Klee Klee explained that he uses non-transgenic cotton grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The whole planting process meets the requirements of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and reduces the use of artificial chemicals in the textile process and the pollution of the natural environment. Klee Klee uses vegetable dyes such as indigo and collaborates with factories specializing in vegetable dyes. It also uses ozone cleaning fabrics and aims to use undyed fabrics and yarns whenever possible. The company also makes buttons from recycled PET bioplastic bottles which themselves can be 100% recycled.

Klee Klee’s brand manager, Zhuang Qing, pointed out that most of the company’s manufacturers are based in Shanghai, with more than half of them based in Jiangsu, Shanghai and Zhejiang. She also works with ethnic minorities such as the Dulong in Yunnan province to develop the fabrics.

Qing added, “The textiles come from different suppliers, some local and some international. For example, we have denim fabrics from Italy and Japan. The cut and the seam are made in China. We have high demands on sustainability, which is why we select our suppliers based on their know-how and more durable processing equipment. For example, one of our suppliers performs an O3 wash, which uses the oxidation process to remove some of the dye and achieve the desired color. For other denim washing plants, we require that they have water treatment facilities to ensure waste water is properly treated.

Klee Klee also maintains a long-standing partnership with a GOTS-certified biodynamic silkworm farm offering fair compensation. Klee Klee uses the silk produced by the farm to manufacture its products.

The strength of the “Made in China” label

“The main factor that contributes to the success of these brands is the rejuvenation of the ‘Made in China’ label, which usually comes with stereotypes of poor quality and was generally perceived negatively in the past,” explained Denise Cheng, analyst at China. market research company, Daxue Consulting.

Referring to China’s “national tide” trend of replacing the dominance of foreign brands with that of local brands in a wide range of products, such as fashion, she said, “While riding the wave” Guochao “, these brands also focus on sustainability and create ethical fashion products with bold and aesthetic designs, abandoning the mentality of fast fashion.

Similarly, another market watcher, Anaïs Bournonville, head of the luxury division of the Shanghai-based consultancy Gentlemen Marketing Agency (GMA), said “green fashion” was a market with great potential if brands managed to integrate this factor in an intelligent and localized way. .

“While international brands struggle to engage with Chinese consumers on the topic of sustainability, Chinese brands are using the artistic and emotional approach to share their values,” Bournonville said.

“By emphasizing the importance of family values, dedication to the next generation and protection of mother nature, brands achieve a higher level of engagement with their customers,” she added.

On the manufacturing side, Bournonville explained that most Chinese manufacturers appreciate the growing potential of green fashion for Chinese and Western markets, being keenly aware of their unique selling point of making sustainable fashion at a competitive price. Bournonville also pointed out that some sustainable materials are also widely available in China, such as recycled PET, which helps brands produce sustainable collections with higher volumes and lower costs.

China’s National Carbon Neutral Goal

On the policy side, Fan Di, a professor at the Institute of Textiles and Apparel at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, says China’s fashion and textile industries urgently need to switch to green fashion. , in part because China has set a national goal of achieving carbon neutrality. by 2060. Given the important role the government plays in China, Fan noted that public policy has a significant impact on corporate decision-making in the country.

“After the target set by the central government, local governments will develop local plans to reduce carbon emissions, and these plans will inevitably put pressure on manufacturing sectors to reduce carbon emissions, forcing companies in these industries to come up against more stringent environmental regulations and measures,” Fan explained. .

Meanwhile, developing sustainable or green fashion is a way for China’s fashion and textile industries to add value to their products, offset China’s rising production costs, and help them compete with “their rivals in Southeast Asia who have a low-cost advantage”, he added. .

Fan explained that many of the manufacturers that have jumped on the green fashion bandwagon are companies that initially had to follow sustainability requirements demanded by overseas customers.

The International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 14001 standard on environmental management system certification, for example, has been widely adopted by Chinese fashion and textile companies. Many companies have also adopted the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards on sustainability reporting. “Using these internationally accepted practices can increase the legitimacy of their green practices,” Fan noted.

The right balance between price and quality for sustainable brands in China

“On the other hand, although sustainability has become an increasingly important factor, price and product quality are still essential for Chinese consumers. This means that Chinese fashion brands have to balance the trade-offs between ‘being green’ and ‘low price’, trying to avoid transferring too much of the cost of green products to consumers,” he added.

Dan Wang, chief economist at Shanghai-based Hang Seng Bank (China), says on the consumer side, she’s not sure if the green fashion trend could trickle down to areas outside major Chinese cities. of “Tier 1” “because people are indeed still price sensitive” in small towns.

On the financing side, however, Wang noted that banks are now giving special loans to companies that are working to reduce carbon emissions, given that they are likely to resume business as a result.

“My bank has a client in the fabric industry, which tracks carbon emissions at every stage of its garment production and shows [that information on] their labels,” Wang said, “Government procurement, including through state-owned enterprises, universities and other public sectors, will lead much of the effort by allocating more money to the buying these eco-friendly fashion products for their employees,” she added.

Given such pressure from the government and changing consumer awareness, China’s huge apparel and textile market is likely to increasingly focus on sustainability.

This article originally appeared in Just styling.



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