Fashion needs to hear this: sustainability is not a value proposition. I wanted Allbirds to succeed just as much as they did, but it didn’t. I wanted SHEIN to crash, but it’s thriving. Consumers continue to express what we want to ignore. When it comes to fashion choices, sustainability is near the bottom of the list of things they care about. Consumers speak with their wallets, and the data is in.
Does this mean we should stop trying? No. It means we need to reprioritize. No one denies the urgency to move toward a more sustainable offering, but we cannot push so hard or move so fast that it distracts from our original brand promise and undermines the bottom line. A self-aware, consumer-facing sustainability offering starts with the fact that consumers talk a big game but spend a small one. So, let’s meet them where they are. Let’s start small, reset our expectations, and understand that we are in it for the long haul.