Sustainability is at the top of the fashion industry’s agenda, as leaders recognize the urgent need to move toward responsible practices under growing consumer and regulatory pressures. The question is how the industry will transform to achieve a sustainable operating model. A step change requires disruptive innovation in the form of new materials, processes, technologies, and business models.
The fashion industry has historically engaged in a cost-driven race to the bottom, giving little attention to radical new technologies. However, a perfect storm of innovation and opportunity is now forming, and investors and companies that can capitalize on sustainability and impact-driven innovation will transform the industry. The study calculates that transitioning toward sustainability yields a $20 billion to $30 billion financing opportunity per year to develop and scale disruptive innovations. The latter case requires innovation to emerge at a faster pace before 2030, which in turn calls for investments to increase by a factor of three or more over their current levels.
With its $2 trillion market size, the fashion industry offers major untapped opportunities for investors and companies. But to bring the necessary solutions to scale, all players—fashion brands, supply chain partners, investors, and others—need to step up to accelerate innovation. The clock is ticking for the industry to advance, and companies and investors that act boldly and rapidly will lead the transformation and ultimately win.
“While the first steps have been taken, fashion needs to embrace and accelerate innovation to future-proof the industry. Doing so opens up major untapped returns for those who can capitalize on the upcoming technological disruption,” said Sebastian Boger, a BCG managing director and partner.
“Disruptive solutions that can offer major leaps forward toward circularity exist today, and the opportunities to invest and scale them within the industry are vast. This seminal study provides powerful insights and a clear call to action for all players to collaboratively drive innovation,” said Katrin Ley, managing director of Fashion for Good.
The report includes the following key findings:
A copy of the report can be downloaded here.
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Today, Fashion for Good launches the Sorting for Circularity USA Project, a new initiative focused on the North-American textile-to-textile recycling market that will provide the most representative snapshot of textile waste composition generated in the United States. This effort is crucial to understanding and evaluating the business case for textile-to-textile recycling, ensuring that used textiles move to their best and highest end use. The results of this 18-month project will inform decisions to unlock necessary investments and actions to scale collection, sorting and recycling innovations.