The Just Fashion Transition 2023 report was unveiled at the Venice Sustainable Fashion Forum which was organised by Sistema Moda Italia, The European House – Ambrosetti and Confindustria Veneto Est last month.

The report highlights the EU Textile Strategy includes 14 major legislative actions, however only half (51%) of these appear to have received approval.

The report also highlighted the possibility for reducing the environmental impact of fashion with technology. While natural fibres are often seen as more sustainable because they are renewable and biodegradable, the report claims that these fibres can have a greater impact on the environment than synthetic alternatives.

Consumer attitudes were also contradictory, with 58% of consumers across the world saying that having an impact on fashion sustainability is important to them, but people of all ages rarely buy sustainable clothing.

The report also highlighted that more than 30% of online apparel purchases are returned and that 70% of these are a result of a “change of mind”.

GlobalData’s patent data shows that, while the past 20 years have seen a significant increase in the number of environmental patents filed by apparel companies, this stalled in 2023.

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Apparel companies filing environmental patents since 2003

Source: GlobalData

In 2022, a total of 771 patents related to the environment were published, 531 filed and 247 were granted to apparel companies across the globe. But this year, the numbers have fallen slightly, with just 420 patents related to the environment published, 206 filed and 207 granted.

This is still a significant increase from 2003, when just 60 environmental patents were published by apparel companies, just 26 filed and only 33 granted.

The report claims that between 2017 and 2020, technology in the apparel sector advanced by 23.3%, mainly driven by an increase in patents filed.

Carlo Cici, partner and head of sustainability practices at Ambrosetti, said: “We need to unleash and fully exploit the potential for change within EU companies by promoting the development, diffusion and large-scale adoption of green technologies throughout the fashion value chain. This approach should draw inspiration from the positive experience of the US Inflation Reduction Act, which provides up to 40% tax credit to companies that make green investments, leading to investments in renewables increasing at least five-fold in a single year.”

Our signals coverage is powered by GlobalData’s Thematic Engine, which tags millions of data items across six alternative datasets — patents, jobs, deals, company filings, social media mentions and news — to themes, sectors and companies. These signals enhance our predictive capabilities, helping us to identify the most disruptive threats across each of the sectors we cover and the companies best placed to succeed.