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The Round Up: Unilever creates dedicated climate fund, Reformation’s CEO steps down & more

The Round Up: Unilever creates dedicated climate fund, Reformation’s CEO steps down & more

Reformation CEO steps down due to ex-employee's experience of systemic racism

This week: Multinational consumer goods company Unilever invests in climate action, Reformation’s CEO officially steps down, two companies develop sports shoe with lowest ever carbon footprint and more.

Racism and climate crisis needs to be addressed together

1. Communities fighting for fair policing also demand environmental justice.

An investigation by the Los Angeles Times found a disproportionately higher percentage of people of colour living alongside power plants, oil refineries and landfills than white people. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven deadlier for BIPOC, due to the lack of access to clean drinking water and higher infection rate within less privileged neighbourhoods. On top of that, black, brown and low-income people are likely to be hit the hardest by global warming.

Racial inequality is intertwined with the climate crisis. This means we have to educate ourselves on what environmental justice is, and how we should tackle climate and race issues concurrently. Climate change will only worsen existing inequities if we don’t dismantle systemic racism. 

Read more on why we must stand for environmental justice here

2. Reformation founder and CEO, Yael Aflalo, resigns after former Black employee exposes racism within the sustainable brand’s hierarchy.

As companies post black squares for #BlackLivesMatter, former employees prove these ‘solidarity posts’ were publicity stunts for some. After Elle Santiago, a former assistant store manager of the sustainable fashion brand, Reformation, spoke up about her experiences with systemic racism, more users demanded Reformation to reform. Elle felt stuck in a career impasse as a victim of systematic racism, incapable of promotion or introducing diversity into more senior roles. 

A few days later, company founder and CEO Yael Aflalo then issued a public apology, addressing how she “had failed”. The ex-CEO referenced the racism Black colleagues had experienced due to the ingrained ignorance of their all-white head team. Yael’s departure comes at a time of growing consciousness about racial bias, even within the sustainable space. Hali Borenstein will succeed Yael as CEO. 

Here’s Yael’s public statement and learn why stepping down is the best option.

Emma Watson joins Kering on sustainability committee

3. Emma Watson joins the board of Kering’s sustainability committee, alongside Tidjane Thiam and Jean Liu.

Actor, women’s rights advocate and a UN goodwill ambassador, and now a board member on Kering’s sustainability committee – Emma Watson is ready to incorporate slow fashion practices into luxury. She advocates for sustainability on and off the red carpet. The British star is also the face of the Good On You app, which rates fashion brands on their ethical and sustainability credentials. 

The Good On You rating for Kering brands such as Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga are only rated “Not good enough” or “It’s a start”. As Kering is one of the industry’s big players, they have to enforce systemic change and push the sustainability agenda forward, with their new additions to their sustainability committee. 

Learn more about Kering’s move and how it has the potential to shift the future of sustainable fashion.

4. Unilever invests 1 billion euros in a new dedicated Climate & Nature Fund.

With newfound commitments to protect the planet, Unilever is taking action by investing 1 billion euros in climate change funds. They aim for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from all its products by 2039, 11 years before the Paris Agreement deadline. The funds will be used over the next ten years, engaging in projects for landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation. Unilever also stated they will aim to make all product formulations biodegradable and achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023. 

Joining a league of companies promising to reach net-zero emissions, find out more about Unilever’s game plan.

Shoes made by Adidas and Allbirds to be lowest carbon footprint shoe

5. Adidas & Allbirds partner to develop ‘lowest ever carbon footprint’ sports shoe.

With collaboration comes great possibilities for the future of sustainable design. Adidas and Allbirds are working together to create the lowest ever carbon footprint recorded for a sports performance shoe. The new partner companies are exploring all kinds of solutions to reduce their design’s carbon footprint. From material choice, how the shoe is made to the kind of transportation methods after the product can be shipped out. This uncommon move between rival businesses in the same market might just be what we need for real sustainable improvement. 

Read how this partnership can just be the catalyst to more sustainable innovative practices within footwear and fashion. 

6. Generation Z’s shopping habits could signal the end of fast fashion.

Those aged 18 to 24 might be quicker to adopt the ‘buy less, buy better’ mentality than other age groups. With having access to information from more sources than ever before, Gen Z is educating themselves on everything from inequality and racism, LGBTQ+ rights to fashion’s role in climate change. Kati Chitrakorn, retail and marketing editor at Vogue Business, said: “today’s kids’ fashion is less about fitting in and more about making choices that reflect their own identity.”

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Singapore's first inaugural Eco Fashion Weekend happens this April 2024

Many young shoppers are looking to buy from value-oriented brands and prefer resale, upcycling, customising or reusing rather than discarding. This is because Generation Z consumers look for uniqueness and ways to include their personal beliefs within their outward style. While the future of fashion and retail is under debate, it’s certain Gen Z shopping habits have some influence. 

Find out more on how Gen Z can potentially shift consumption away from fast fashion

Face masks sustainable

7. 10 brands making reusable face masks and making a difference!

Today, sporting a mask outside our homes has become compulsory (unless you’re exercising, that is). But only wearing disposable masks is not great for the environment and it causes a shortage for our medical heroes. So, the next best option – reusable cloth masks! 

Since we might have to spend several more weeks (maybe months) donning these face covers, there’s no reason they can’t be a little bit more playful and colourful. So we’ve curated these 10 independent brands making masks and supporting struggling communities during this global health crisis. 

Check out these brands putting some thought, care and triple layer protection in their masks

8. 5 Ways Emerging Fashion Brands Adapt To Covid-19.

With the world turned upside down by Covid-19, how are small fashion brands handling the crisis? During our IG Live series #RealTalk, we caught up with many emerging brands to ask how they’re doing. Retail has been hit hard by the lockdowns and restrictions in place. It has especially proven to be a challenge for smaller businesses to keep their heads above water. However, these conversations lead to a deeper understanding of the resilience of emerging brands during times of crisis. 

Whether it’s making medical equipment or moving towards made-to-order, the adaptability and quick thinking of ethically-minded businesses are what is keeping them afloat. Not only resilient but forward-thinking, these brands are changing how fashion business should not go back to usual, but shift the industry’s outdated practices and benchmarks of growth and success. 

Find out the 5 ways that these brands have been weathering the storm. 

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