Last week saw two European sports companies fall on hard times despite the activewear category usually being one of the most resilient in the sector.

UK fashion conglomerate Frasers Group withdrew its acquisition of Austrian sports retailer SportScheck, following its insolvency. Plus, JD-Sports owned Sports Unlimited retail confirmed it had appointed curators after being declared bankrupt.

Is a Fashion sector storm brewing?

In an exclusive interview with Just Style, PDS Limited’s vice chairman Pallak Seth warned the current economic climate has created a “perfect storm” for the apparel sector.

He’s seeing consumers tightening their belts and reducing their clothing budgets just as many apparel companies are facing higher material, energy and freight costs.

So, it begs the question — is the apparel sector on the cusp of another storm?

Amidst the backdrop of COP28, which continues this week, these sports retail bankruptcies were a stark reminder of the financial pressures all organisations are facing alongside the need for environmental reform.

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Leading fashion activism movement Fashion Revolution used the climate summit to call on the global fashion industry to make radical change, noting its environmental impact and “deep social inequalities”.

Is there a way for the fashion sector to make the radical changes needed, despite the current economic climate?

Financial pressure has often been seen as a competitor to sustainability goals, but the two might not be as incompatible as previously thought.

Last week fashion giants Bestseller and H&M Group announced at the event plans to develop an offshore wind energy project in Bangladesh, aimed at boosting the sector’s transition to renewable energy.

The event also saw biological recycling company Protein Evolution announce a project with luxury fashion brand Stella McCartney that showcases the “world’s first” garment produced using package and textile strappings waste.

Protein Evolution claims the resulting polyester is “infinitely recyclable,” and crucially a cost-effective, high-quality way to combat plastic waste.

Renewable energy is already cheaper than fossil fuels in most cases. A cost-effective recyclable polyester fibre also adds hope that sustainable fashion solutions may soon become viable alternatives, particularly as the cost of virgin materials increase.

With the fashion sector facing another tough economic outlook as we head into 2024, these cost-effective and climate-saving alternatives may soon become the only way forward.

Top stories on Just Style last week

PDS Limited warns of ‘perfect storm’ for apparel in coming months
Pallak Seth, vice chairman at PDS Limited reveals the immediate challenges facing the fashion sector as high inflation continues to hit brands’ inventory levels with many “discounting at a loss”.

Bestseller, H&M Group to develop Bangladesh’s first offshore wind project
Fashion giants Bestseller and H&M Group are developing an offshore wind energy project in Bangladesh aimed at boosting the sector’s transition to renewable energy.

Protein Evolution, Stella McCartney debut bio-recycled polyester at COP28
Biological recycling company Protein Evolution has collaborated with luxury fashion brand Stella McCartney to unveil the “world’s first” garment produced using package and textile strappings waste at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).

‘Ruthless’ fashion industry urged to take decisive action on decarbonisation
Leading fashion activism movement, Fashion Revolution is making waves at COP28 with a set of demands directed at major fashion brands and policymakers, calling for decisive action and a just transition to decarbonisation.

Non-profit Textile Exchange has launched the Materials Directory tool to identify raw materials suppliers alongside the unveiling of the 10th edition of its annual Materials Market Report, which offers a snapshot of global fibre and materials production trends this year.

JD Sports-owned Sports Unlimited Retail declared bankrupt
JD Sports’ Dutch subsidiary Sports Unlimited Retail, which includes European retail brands Perry Sport, Aktiesport and Sprinter, has declared bankruptcy.

Frasers Group halts SportScheck purchase amid insolvency, ups Boohoo stake
UK fashion retail conglomerate Frasers Group has officially withdrawn its acquisition of Austrian sports retailer SportScheck following its insolvency but maintains interest in a potential buyout and has upped its stake in online retailer Boohoo once again.

Kering tightens sourcing standards in line with sustainability vision
French fashion conglomerate Kering, which owns several luxury brands such as Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Alexander McQueen, has released an updated sourcing policy for brands and guidelines for its suppliers.

Fast fashion evolution being led by Shein and Temu
Fast fashion will continue to gain market share in 2024 with McKinsey’s State of Fashion report suggesting ultra-low prices by players like Shein and Temu winning over consumers.

Chico’s FAS reports ‘consistent profitability’ in Q3 ahead of acquisition
US-based womenswear retailer Chico’s FAS shares results for Q3 2023 ‘in line’ with previous expectations ahead of its acquisition by Sycamore Partners.