Sustainability is a looming concern for consumers and corporations alike, particularly in the fashion industry. According to a World Economic Forum report, the apparel industry is responsible for 20% of all industrial water pollution and is the second largest consumer of water, while discarded clothing has begun inundating landfills. In fact, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation says that by 2050 the fashion industry may use up to 25% of the world’s carbon budget.
While the fashion industry has taken steps to reduce its carbon footprint, more can be done. Leading companies have already recognized this and begun to take action. Innovation through technology may offer a unique path forward.
Embracing the Circular Economy
Fashion houses, retailers, and consumers are much more environmentally conscious than they were just a few years ago. Consumers are driving the change by looking to adopt new sustainable models of fashion consumption and play an integral role in tackling environmental issues. This new breed of consumer is more inclined to associate with or buy from brands that perform well on environmental practices.
New business models are emerging to meet the demands of these consumers. These models allow clothes to be rented, resold, or recycled, thereby preventing additional pollutants and waste – and moving the industry toward circular-economy principles.
A circular economy aligns with the popular 3R approach: reduce, reuse and recycle. New business models are emerging that support these notions, like renting high-fashion products or retooling products from designer brands (reuse), or repurposing products with organic/anti-bacterial composition (recycle). These out-of-the-box ideas are gaining traction. To be competitive, circular models should be adopted by all supply chain leaders.
Adding the 4th ‘R’ to the 3R Approach
It’s time for the fashion industry to broadly consider a fourth R: rental. Building on Wipro’s dedication to sustainability and role as a founding member of Transform to Net Zero, we’ve developed a seamlessly integrated SAP industry cloud solution called Fashion Rental to help the fashion industry advance its sustainability goals.
Fashion Rental hits the sweet spot for customers who seek an affordable clothing option, are drawn to eco-conscious clothing, yet appreciate the products of luxury fashion manufacturers. The concept has already been proven: H&M, a global clothing retailer, has a fashion rental service to inspire its customers to look at fashion in a circular way. Considering that up to 85% of textiles go into landfills every year, finding new value in wearable clothing that would have been discarded can drastically reduce waste while meeting the needs of consumer and company alike.
The subscription-based contract model can be deployed to product lines within a few weeks, helping luxury brands and niche manufacturers offer online rentals of any product with real-time availability, schedule, price, and quality certificates. Based in the cloud, this innovative approach embraces and encourages a circular economy business model in which consumers gain access to new and “high-fashion” apparel, while designers and retailers generate recurring revenue from the same product. The reviews of this new model are in: Wipro’s Fashion Rental solution won the SAP Innovation Awards in the ‘Partner Paragon’ category. More-detailed information is available here.
Buy Less, Rent More
Organizations worldwide, including in the fashion industry, have been trying to reduce their impact on the environment. The circular economy is finally getting chic appeal, and rental fashion is set to boom. “Something borrowed” is no longer a taboo phrase. Imagine the difference a few changes in shopping habits can have on the environment. Renting instead of buying reuses outfits and reduces textile waste produced every year. With the 4R approach of Wipro’s Fashion Rental Solution, retail and fashion companies can capitalize on new revenue models, contribute to a reduced carbon footprint, and deliver an improved experience for customers that enables them to buy less and rent more.
Global SAP Digital Innovation Group Head, Wipro Limited
Sundar heads the global SAP Digital Innovation group at Wipro Limited. He has over 25 years of experience across cutting-edge SAP technologies, business architecture process design and development, process transformation, and SAP platform architecture management.