Decoding Tomorrow:
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Foresights and ideas that expand minds and inspire a change of heart.

Sustainability is in Fashion

18 Oct 2021

There is no time to waste. As we approach COP26 in Glasgow, it is clear that climate change doesn't care whether you or I like it or not. It will continue to happen without our permission - and wreak havoc unless we transform our thinking and actions. As the summit looms, this time climate change is even more deeply personal for me. While the world's leaders are meeting to chart a transformative course, the climate clock is ticking on several fronts.

My wife and I are imminently expecting our second child and I ask myself what kind of world my sons will inherit? Is it a world worth inheriting? Is humanity and business investing ethically in a world that is truly worth taking over? Kids have been school striking, women have been birth striking, and a new phenomenon of pre-traumatic climate stress disorder has been emerging amongst us.

A few years ago I would have answered 'no, I am hesitant' - and it is evident that many entrenched laggards are still dragging their feet switching away from burning fossilized dinosaurs - but something has changed recently. The zeitgeist is shifting!

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So, the optimist (and reader of The Lorax during storytime) in me says 'yes, it is a world worth inheriting', and I am starting to witness green shoots in our human consciousness and data-based evidence of a pivot in entrepreneurship playing out before our very eyes. Sustainability is now in fashion... not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is the profitable and on-trend thing to do...

I was born into a close relationship with the fashion industry - one of the largest industry contributors to environmental degradation and global carbon emissions, so I inherited some climate guilt! For 104 years, my family elders ran a menswear clothier which dressed the gentlemen of Stockholm and beyond. It did its best to encourage sustainable consumption, 'built to last' design, and encouraged repairs when needed.

Today, my wife, Nicole, is a successful swim and resort wear designer and manufacturer who invests in sustainable packaging, recycled materials sourced from ocean plastics, and uses only renewable energy. I myself am a sartorialist at heart and appreciate a timeless suit as much as anyone with an aesthetic eye.

But, the facts remain, fashion production makes up 10% of humanity's carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams. What's more, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year (UNECE, 2018), and washing some types of clothes sends a significant amount of microplastics into the ocean. But the fashion industry is cleaning up its act. Both in slow fashion and fast fashion. 

Kering Group (of Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Bottega Veneta et al fame) was listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) World and Europe for the eighth consecutive year, recognized as one of the "industry leaders" within the "Textile, Apparel & Luxury Goods" sector, and Gucci has been highlighted for its Off the Grid CollectionH&M (who we recently shot a Sustainability Documentary with) is aiming to be Climate Positive by 2040 and is turning sequestered carbon into pellets which are used in their manufacturing in an impressive circular economy initiative. The conscious consumer is paying attention!


The pace of change in the fashion industry has never been this fast, and will never ever be this slow again. Because of digital acceleration, fashion brands are becoming green technology companies with a license in their old industry. Meanwhile, technology is enabling us to ‘do more with less’, to focus less on the menial and the mundane, and more on the meaningful and the humane – and to create fashion within constraints.

The most ‘human touch’ in the customer journey is now the digital, contactless touch, and to win the digital minds and the enduringly analogue emotional hearts of tomorrow’s conscious consumer, we have to catalyse innovations within planetary constraints.

There is a collective awakening happening right now about the fragility of our natural environment and the disruption of the fashion industry value chain.

Sustainability is not a fad – it is the biggest challenge and entrepreneurial opportunity since the dawn of industrialisation. It is time to liberate our human creativity and ingenuity.

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This is not about the next collection, this is about systemic transformation. Sustainable will enduringly be - in fashion. The only way to sustain a competitive advantage is to innovate responsibly – to be both humanitarian and planetarian.


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Yesterday, our customers elevated their consciousness. Today, it is our turn to join them...


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Check out this interview with Sustaining Australia TV on how technology can augment humans and help us do more with less as we pivot toward sustainable business models.

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As entrepreneurs and strategists, at Thinque we understand the battle between delivering short-term profits and making your brand a sustainable innovator, which is why we co-design strategy and transformation journeys that deliver on the 3Ps of People, Planet and Profit.

Here is how we do it:

  • Schedule a sustainability maturity audit
  • Co-Design a Sustainability Kick-Off with Futurist Anders Sörman-Nilsson
  • Map a Sustainability Transformation Journey with your leadership team

So, schedule a HD/HIFI meeting with futurist Anders Sörman-Nilsson now.

And in the meantime, check out my keynote preview for the Facebook Agency Summit, so you can stop worrying about disruptive regulation getting ahead of you, consumers abandoning your brand and your kids judging you for failing to act, and instead: become a sustainability hero, drive sustainable profits and transform into a purpose-led organisation that augments the 3Ps of - People, Planet, and Profit.

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