Large companies with large carbon footprints often tout long-term goals to reduce their emissions by a percentage over several years, but those goals often obscure the cause of those emissions. Read on for a deeper dive, as well as a look at the future of social commerce and the winners of the LVMH Prize. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Glossy Podcast for interviews with fashion industry leaders and Week in Review episodes, and the Glossy Beauty Podcast for interviews from the beauty industry. –Danny Parisi, sr. fashion reporter
Long-term carbon reduction goals obscure who’s at fault for fashion’s emissions
Place Publique, a French political party, launched a campaign last week called “Stop Shein.” The name is self-explanatory.
Shein has become a particular target of criticism of fast fashion as a whole. In many ways, the company epitomizes both the appeal of fast fashion — dirt-cheap prices — and its pitfalls — the poor treatment of both workers and the planet. Shein is also among the largest of fast fashion retailers, with a $100 billion valuation and sales that quadrupled between 2019 and 2021. The Stop Shein petition, which garnered 11,000 signatures, urges the French government to more strictly regulate brands like Shein that create and sell thousands of new styles per week.
For its part, Shein has tried to diffuse such criticisms by touting its sustainability goals, such as its aim to reduce emissions by 25% by 2030. But statements like these often read as a smokescreen. They treat the status quo — that Shein emits 6.3 million tons of carbon each year — as something that just happened naturally, and the solution — reducing those emissions by 25% — as something that will take a long time and a lot of work to enact.
But those 6.3 million tons of carbon didn’t come from nowhere. No one is forcing companies to keep producing new clothes at such unsustainable rates, and it was a deliberate choice on Shein’s part to build a model that relies on a carbon-heavy manufacturing process. Instead of reducing emissions by 25% in seven years, Shein (and other companies with high emissions) could reduce its carbon footprint immediately by pulling back on production.
Large companies with large carbon footprints have an obligation (as do we all) to not harm the planet we share. But slow and gradual reduction goals often let companies claim credit for the reductions while distancing themselves from the problems they created in the first place.
Social commerce’s future likely lies outside the U.S.
Social platforms like Instagram and TikTok have dreamed of social commerce being a major player in fashion and retail, but so far it’s been a rocky road. Instagram Shop launched over two years ago, but in January, Instagram removed the Shop tab from the home page. The Information reported in September that Instagram would pull back from commerce.
At the Glossy Summit in Florida last week, numerous attendees voiced annoyance at some of the difficulties related to social commerce. In particular, they said customers often forget to update their address and shipping information when making a purchase through a social channel. What’s more, product discovery is difficult, as is keeping a customer who makes their first brand purchase through social.
This past week, news about TikTok’s plans for its own shop shed a bit of light on what’s happening in social commerce. According to Bloomberg, TikTok sold just over $4 billion worth of goods through commerce last year, but it plans to increase that number to $20 billion this year. The catch is that the U.S. and Europe will likely make up just a small portion of that number. Instead, the bulk of TikTok’s social commerce growth will come from Southeast Asia, the report said.
For the platforms like TikTok and Instagram, commerce is an appealing possibility especially as advertising revenue winds down across industries. But the U.S. market has never been the most receptive to social commerce or livestream shopping. Social commerce’s future may lie in other markets outside the U.S.
Winners of the LVMH Prize for Young Designers announced
On a lighter note, Satoshi Kuwata, designer of the brand Setchu, won the prestigious LVMH Prize for Young Designers on Wednesday. Kuwata is a Japanese designer who has worked in Paris and New York and founded his brand in Milan. His win reflects the increasingly international mood of high fashion. The mingling of Japanese design techniques with traditional European aesthetics has dominated mainstream fashion for years.
The Karl Lagerfeld Special Jury Award was given to Luca Magliano of the Italian brand Magliano and Julie Pelipas of the Ukrainian brand Bettter. The latter win marks the continued rise of Ukraine as a source of fashion’s next generation of great designers, even as the war with Russia rages on.