Will carbon neutrality allow Chinese clothing companies to open up new horizons? – WWD


The Chinese market has experienced dynamic changes in 2021.

A biological revolution is underway in the domestic garment industry, from the pursuit of speed and scale to balancing quality and efficiency. Clothing companies focused on the Chinese market are moving in a new direction: from traditional businesses to “evangelists” who are complicit with consumers in the concept of sustainable fashion as part of a green production chain.

At the same time, representatives of industry organizations such as CNTAC are bringing together fashion industry leaders with more than $ 47.1 billion in revenues to lead the trillion-worth market. dollars in climate action. Eighteen major brands and 40 major manufacturing companies have pledged to set peak carbon emissions and carbon neutrality targets, publish action plans and roadmaps, and regularly disseminate information on the carbon.

The Chinese textile industry has taken steps to embrace globalization over the past four decades. From OEM production to own brands, it has achieved successive fashion makeovers. With an overview of the womenswear market in the United States, the successes of cross-border e-commerce represented by companies like Shein over the past decade have proven the ability of the Chinese fashion industry to compete with the market. global scale.

Over the next decade, during which the goal of peaking carbon emissions by 2030 is expected to be met, can Chinese apparel companies capitalize on their neutral vision and strategy? carbon to truly develop better collaboration in areas such as research and development, research, technological and product innovation, marketing and talent training? Is China really “the key to global solutions for sustainable fashion,” as Cai Jinqing, president of Kering Greater China has said, thus opening up new horizons for China?

How will China boost industrial synergies for a trillion dollar industry?

As the world’s second-largest economy and a significant global leader, China is now the world’s largest consumer market for fashion brands and the largest fashion manufacturing country, playing a key role on both the industrial side and the market. consumer side of the global sector.

According to the 2021 Blue Book on Green Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development in China, China’s transition to zero-carbon energy will create a huge investment market that will reach nearly $ 2.4 trillion by the time. 2050 and will contribute 80% of the cumulative reduction in emissions towards zero carbon in the country. goal. The apparel sector, an important pillar of the fashion industry, will generate a trillion dollar market value synergy under the concept of carbon neutrality.

In this regard, the national organization of the textile and clothing industry – CNTAC – serves as a bridge between companies and organizations upstream and downstream of the industry. In 2017, the CNTAC launched the Climate 2030 Innovation Initiative and in 2019, it launched the Special Climate Fund for the Fashion Industry to finance the development projects of future sustainable fashion designers in China. Encompassing 30 key brands and 60 manufacturing companies in the country’s textile and clothing industry, the 3060 Net Zero Acceleration Plan was launched in 2021, with a focus on implementing emission reduction strategies. of carbon and climate as well as on the collaborative governance of the industry.

CNTAC launches the new version of the CSC9000T, positioning the Chinese textile and clothing industry within “technology, fashion, green”, to provide guidelines for companies to “go international”.
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Six months after its launch, 12 of the brands that participated in the 3060 Net Zero Accelerating Plan performed life cycle carbon footprint measurements on 22 products, covering five categories of raw materials, including cotton, polyester, l elastane, silk and recycled cellulose. fibers. The data collected completes the database on the environmental impact of textiles and manufacturing processes.

There is no shortage of international actions and initiatives on sustainable fashion, echoing China’s desire for carbon neutrality. The difference is that Chinese companies are taking action along the entire value chain – a supply chain synergy based on a perspective throughout a product’s lifecycle and resonating with consumers. It aims to demonstrate the contribution of products to reducing carbon consumption by promoting a credible global supply chain carbon footprint label, establishing a market incentive mechanism to support businesses upstream and downstream. downstream and thus quickly achieve sustainable production and consumption.

With the goal of a 55% reduction in carbon emissions in a 1.5 ° C global warming scenario, the industry’s global value chain is coordinating its strategies.

The unprecedented leverage of sustainable fashion

“Carbon neutrality”, a term that has been given extraordinary meaning since its inception, is seen by many as a disruption, transformation and upgrade.

In the Chinese textile and clothing industry, each company has a unique market presence and is able to pursue its own strategies to achieve carbon neutrality. Many of the leading clothing companies in China are involved in the implementation of carbon neutrality. For example, as a first step in its carbon neutral strategy initiative, Peacebird is using Xinjiang’s first 100% cotton product with carbon footprint measurement across the entire supply chain. The Peacebird 25th Anniversary T-shirt has a hang tag with a QR code that provides real-time access to carbon footprint information.

Peacebird Carbon Neutral Plan

Peacebird announcing its Carbon Neutral Vision 2046 during the company’s 25th anniversary celebration.
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The Lenzing fiber company was the first to bring the Zero Carbon Tencel fiber brand to the market. By partnering with more industry partners to build a low-carbon, environmentally friendly ecosystem, Lenzing aims to encourage customer participation in the carbon neutrality discussion and jointly promote low-carbon development. carbon emission from the textile industry.

The Chenfeng Group, the first to join the Climate Innovation 2030 Initiative, took the initiative to launch a zero-carbon pilot plant and performed a carbon neutrality demonstration after performing a benchmark measurement of carbon emissions at its own factories. as part of its climate program. action plan.

Since its launch, the Global Sustainable Fashion Designers Alliance has recruited 23 designers as of October 31, following the 38 top designers gathered on August 31 and covering the categories of ready-to-wear, evening dresses, renovation and lifestyle. Another 80 designers who meet the alliance’s requirements are expected to join in 2022.

Editor’s Note: China Insight is a new monthly column written by staff at WWD’s sister publication, WWD China, to provide a more in-depth look at developments in this key market.


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