The fashion industry has long been synonymous with creativity, glamour, and innovation. However, behind the glitz lies a complex ecosystem with profound environmental, social, and ethical implications. In recent years, consumers and activists have raised their voices, demanding more responsible and sustainable practices from fashion brands.

To address these challenges and drive positive change, a concerted effort from regulatory bodies as well as changes in marketing and communication are necessary to shift consumption patterns and reduce the impacts this industry has on people and planet.

The Copenhagen Global Fashion Summit, one of the most anticipated events in the sustainable fashion industry, recently concluded its 2023 edition. MUMSTER’s founder, Chanel Trapman, attended the summit and had the pleasure to attend multiple panel discussions which offered valuable insights into the current regulatory landscape and the role of consumer-facing communication in shaping the future of fashion. This year’s summit, themed ‘Ambition to Action’, provided a platform for industry leaders, innovators, and activists to come together and discuss the crucial steps needed to shape a more sustainable future for fashion. 

In this blog, we will delve into the key takeaways from the summit, with a special focus on sustainability communications and the role of marketing in shaping the industry’s transformation. Moreover, we will explore the groundbreaking Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook that serves as a beacon for sustainable marketing practices in the world of fashion.

The Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook 

The summit emphasised that effective sustainability communications are essential to drive the fashion industry forward. Brands must embrace open and transparent communication about their sustainability efforts to build trust with consumers.

 As a campaign agency that’s exactly what we aim to do. With our engaging campaigns we bring together different stakeholders to shed light on the impacts of the industry whilst simultaneously advocating for a better industry and educating consumers. 

The Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook, co-published by UNEP and UN Climate Change, emerged as a vital resource in guiding fashion communicators on how to align consumer-facing messaging with sustainability targets. It encourages fashion brands, media, influencers, and marketers to work collectively to present a unified vision of sustainability and inspire conscious consumer choices.

The Playbook provides key principles for sustainable fashion communication centred around countering misinformation, changing behaviour and reimagining values. 

-Counter misinformation by sharing factual information, backed with evidence.
-Ensure information is shared in a clear and accessible manner.

-Eradicate messages of overconsumption.
-Champion positive changes and demonstrate accessible circular solutions to help individuals live more sustainable lifestyles.

-Redirect aspiration to more sustainable lifestyles.
-Focus on inclusive marketing and storytelling that celebrates the positive ecological, cultural and social values of fashion.

-Empower consumers in their role as citizens to demand greater action from businesses and policymakers.
-Support dialogue with leadership and policymakers to enable wider industry sustainability
-Motivate and mobilise the public to advocate for broader change.

Navigating the Regulatory Landscape:

It is increasingly evident that relying solely on the good intentions of brands is not enough to clean up the fashion industry. Tougher laws and regulation will be crucial in enforcing real change, and this imperative was a key topic at the Global Fashion Summit. “According to the Eu commission, half of the claims made by the fashion industry are considered misleading to the consumers” Baptiste Carrière-Pradal, founder of 2BPolicy, explained on a panel during the summit. 

Addressing the environmental and social challenges of the fashion industry goes hand in hand with navigating the regulatory landscape. The summit has sparked lively discussions about the need for comprehensive regulations that hold fashion brands accountable for their impact on the planet and society. Baptiste Carrière-Pradal spoke extensively about the role and progress of the upcoming regulation tackling the fashion industry in Europe “if you want to make a [green] claim, and if you want to talk about the climate and impact of a product, you need to have views and understand its impact all across its life cycle. And that you need to understand its impact not only on carbon or water but on multiple indicators.”

Government bodies and fashion leaders are joining forces to develop policies that promote sustainable practices, responsible sourcing, and fair labour conditions. By aligning these regulations with consumer demand for transparency, the industry is becoming more equipped to embrace change and uphold ethical standards. If you’re interested in learning more about the legislation that will impact the textile sector in Europe, check out this article. 

The importance of transparency

Transparency has emerged as a cornerstone of sustainable fashion communication. Consumers are demanding to know the story behind their clothes – where they come from, how they are made, and the impact they have on the environment and society. Brands that embrace transparency and share their sustainability efforts openly are fostering trust and loyalty among their customers. As Shakaila Forbes-Bell, founder of Fashion is Psychology, said “I think we live in an age where consumers demand to be knowledgeable…I think it’s about informing consumers in a way that lets them feel like they’re being taken care of and then feel that they’re actually given a sense of control.” Following the summit we had an insightful conversation on instagram live with Shakaila. She spoke about the connection between overconsumption and greenwashing and how psychology can be used for good by both brands and consumers to establish a conscious fashion system based on mindful consumption and a deeper connection to clothing rather than mindless purchases of disposable, trend-led garments. You can rewatch the live conversation here.

The summit underlined the importance of transparent, responsible communication in sustainability efforts, highlighting the risks of greenwashing and the need for tools like “The Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook: Shifting the Narrative.” When it comes to translating talk into action, this kind of documentation will be valuable – not just as a way of providing a roadmap for companies facing uncertainty, but as a set of guidelines for accountability in how action on sustainability is measured. 


Educating Consumers as Advocates

Sustainable fashion is not just about eco-friendly materials and ethical production; it’s about telling a compelling story. Brands are embracing storytelling as a powerful tool to communicate their commitment to sustainability effectively. 

During the panel talk “What comes next for communicating sustainability” Blake Harrop, President of global advertising agency “Wieden+Kennedy”, said “Ultimately marketing and branding is about the transfer of enthusiasm… so we need to continue to engage in the subject, encourage brands to speak up about the areas where they’re making well-intentioned efforts and hold those efforts accountable and keep that process going.” He added “We have to find a way to compress all of the good work that people are doing in supply chains, in materials, in sourcing and in the communications, into something that makes sense to a consumer and can live within their attention span.” 

By crafting narratives that resonate with their audience, brands can create an emotional connection, sparking a sense of purpose and inspiring positive change. At MUMSTER, storytelling is our strong suit, with multimedia campaigns and copywriting services we work with fashion pioneers to showcase their genuine efforts in building a better industry.  Whether it’s highlighting the craftsmanship of artisans or the positive impact on local communities, when used effectively, storytelling humanises the sustainable fashion journey and invites consumers to be part of the movement.