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Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017 by Global Fashion Agenda

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

The report called Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017 was published by Global Fashion Agenda and The Boston Consulting Group. The report exposes the challenges in a number of sustainability impact areas and along the industry’s value chain, from design and development to end-of- life for apparel and footwear. It aims to provide transparency on the industry’s stance in terms of its environmental, social, and ethical footprints— topics that have been much debated, yet without a common baseline and framework against which to evaluate change.


Photo: Global Fashion Agenda, Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report 2017.


If the global population rises as expected to 8.5 billion people by 2030 and the GDP per capita grows at 2% per year in the developed world and 4% in the developing world, it is projected that the overall apparel consumption will rise by 63%, from 62 million tons today to 102 million tons in 2030—an equivalent of more than 500 billion T-shirts. The consumer use phase is where the product is handled, washed, repaired, and possibly passed on. Not long ago, most apparel was carefully looked after, repaired, and handed down.


“But with the coming of fast-fashion, in the past decade the number of garments purchased per consumer has more than doubled, and some consumers throw them out after only a couple of wears.”

The fashion industry has an opportunity to create large scale social change for millions. But over 50% of the industry has not started to take action yet. Fashion brands have many opportunities to move to better business practices, following after standout brands and newcomers built around sustainability. Here are listed eight areas in which the fashion industry can make a difference:

  1. WATER - consumption of freshwater, output and processing of wastewater;

  2. ENERGY - use of renewable energies and CO2 emission management;

  3. CHEMICALS - amount and toxicity of employed chemicals, processing of utilized chemicals;

  4. WASTE - amounts and types of waste generated, treatment of waste;

  5. LABOR PRACTICES - compensation, working hours, worker treatment, worker involvement, worker rights (to vacation, to form unions etc), gender equality, child labor;

  6. HEALTH and SAFETY - facility standards (fire doors, sufficient emergency exits, established emergency procedures/training), exposure to chemicals and dangerous equipment;

  7. COMMUNITY and EXTERNAL ENGAGEMENT - interactions with and services for the community, such as providing education facilities for children of factory workers, engagement with external stakeholders and consumers;

  8. UNETHICAL PRACTICES - corruption, animal welfare, use of models and imagery that sets a poor standard.

For example, in the design and development phase, brands can reduce lifecycle impacts by considering the footprint of proposed garments upfront. Designs, especially the choice of raw materials, determine much of a garment’s destiny and impact. The fiber mix of a garment can impede or facilitate recycling, while the colors and prints will limit the options for dyes and process chemicals.


“The raw materials stage has a large impact on sustainability, partly because of the effect it has on recyclability.”

Unfortunately, most clothing waste ends up in landfill or is being incinerated. The industry needs a collective push.


Photo: Global Fashion Agenda, Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report 2017.


Click here to read the full Report by Global Fashion Agenda, 2017.