Sustainability in Men’s Fashion: A Turning Point

Sustainable fashion is more than just jargons. It has been gaining momentum for the past decade, and is rapidly occupying the minds of consumers and steering their purchasing patterns and choice of brands. But what does sustainable fashion really mean?

Sustainable fashion can be broadly defined as clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects of the entire journey. It implies that there is and should be continuous work to improve all stages of the product’s life cycle, - from design, raw material production, manufacturing, transport, storage, marketing and final sale, to use, reuse, repair, remake and recycling of the product and its components. Environmentally, this cycle should be able to minimize any adverse effect to the natural resources. Socio-economically, the products should be made in apt conditions for workers, factories, transportation chains, and stores. Only when these good ethics and practices are put into place, fashion can be truly sustainable and make a real impact. 

Since generations, women’s fashion has taken precedence over men’s, with the exception of the last decade. The consumption and propagation of men’s brands in the last decade has put many men’s brands on the map, that are following the intensely quick fashion cycles just as women’s fashion products. Naturally, there is a larger need for sustainability conservation in this category too. The fact that menswear for apparel and footwear has higher consumption of resources (raw materials), it is imperative for brands to think sustainability for them too. In fact, this has been a big turning point for the category, as many more consumers are becoming fashion savvy and conscious at the same time. 

“Sustainability needs to be without marketing tropes and seeking goodwill. It should be a way of life. At Paaduks, we create footwear both for men and women from upcycled tyres and cork. The handcrafted footwear shapes up from old tyres and then given a designer's eye to make it look and feel great as a fashion statement” , says Amit Jain, Head of Strategy, Paaduks. The brand is not only popular with men, but is coveted by men too.

What is changing in the men’s footwear industry that is making sustainable brands get a firm grip on the market? Adoption of recycled materials in footwear has increased by 70% y-o-y in 2019. Like Paaduks, there are a number of startups and established brands that are creating a special niche in this category. Not only is this just a matter of environment and socio-economic practices, but this has become to make great economic sense for the manufacturers. This is a great time in the history of fashion when shoe brands are making big strides in circularity and sustainability. The shift is holistic, and adoption of recycled, renewable, and bio-based materials are here to stay. The same thought process has moved to innovative ways to produce, design, and package as well. 

While there may be reasons why the entry of brands is prohibitive in the sense that there are large technological investments to be made, at least there is a mind shift. If brands need to dominate the minds of conscious consumers, they will have to toe the line.



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