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Kiwi fashion labels shifting from traditional sales methods in move towards sustainability

Kiwi fashion labels are veering away from traditional sales methods in a bid to be more sustainable.

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Covid’s brought on a rethink for an industry with a large carbon footprint. Source: 1 NEWS

The change has been encouraged by our year of Covid-19 for an industry with a large carbon footprint.

Brand Maggie Marilyn has announced a shift away from wholesalers, seasons and collections.

Designer Maggie Hewitt said, "We, as an industry, have got into this insatiable, markdown culture. Letting [customers] buy into seasons and those seasons getting marked down in three months’ time is telling them somehow that garment is worth less than when they first bought it."

The designer will now only sell direct and says her garments are made to be kept for years.

"We just wanted to move closer to our customer... and really, in order to be a circular business, we have to understand and know every customer to eventually take those garments back at the end of their life."

Hewitt said that wasn't possible with international retailers.

Another Kiwi label making changes is Ingrid Starnes.

Managing Director Simon Pound said, "There's a lot of waste as labels are kind of incentivised to make things in really big numbers to try and make the most of their products that do well... and to get their cost prices down.

"Ingrid Starnes is having a complete change of how we operate and starting a pre-purchase model whereby, instead of making a collection of 50 pieces and making thousands of units and hoping people will buy them, we're going to actually go out to our customers and see what people want to buy in advance."

As well as reducing waste, Pound said it'll mean the price for consumers drops by about 30 per cent.

Hewitt said, with her business, Covid-19's provided time to reflect.

Pound, too, said it's been a rocky year.

"The upshot of that is we no longer have retail stores and we aren't bound to the traditional model," he said.

"We really felt what overproduction can do this year and it made for our business being unsustainable and we were left with an unsustainable amount of clothing."

Associate Professor Lisa McNeill, from Otago University's School of Business, said, "There has been a worldwide shift in terms of how conscious we are about what we buy, how we buy it and what we do with it after we've used it."

Statistics from the World Bank show the fashion industry's responsible for about 10 per cent of annual global carbon emissions. In pre-Covid times, that was more than all international flights and shipping combined.

McNeill said, "There are estimates that say, around every second, a whole rubbish truck full of fashion is dumped somewhere in the world and disposed of in a way that's not environmentally-friendly."

She told 1 NEWS new sales methods, like pre-purchasing, are succeeding overseas.

"There's evidence in the US that these are working... That's really been the case since 2017, so in New Zealand, they might be new but I think consumers will probably embrace them."