Navigating 2024: Pursuing adaptation and resilience in the fashion and sporting goods industry

Quantis experts have identified four pivotal pillars for 2024 that will play a critical role in shaping the future of sustainable Fashion.

2024 represents a critical opportunity for fashion and apparel companies to accelerate action on corporate sustainability initiatives. Our experts came up with four key themes for companies to embrace in the coming year to double down on their contribution to a sustainable future where both business and planet can flourish. 

1. Prepare for the upcoming regulatory landscape.

Globally, fashion and apparel brands will have to contend with more than 35 pieces of significant new legislation in the next several years, as highlighted in our report titled Sustainable Raw Materials Will Drive Profitability for Fashion and Apparel Brands. Upcoming regulations will touch on every aspect from manufacturer, brand, and retailer operations, covering all life cycle stages of a product. Some such changes include: 

  • The way products are designed with the EU’s Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation; 
  • How products are marketed with the EU’s Green Claims Directive; and 
  • How they’re discarded with the EU’s Waste Framework Directive and the Extended Producer Responsibility. 

As the regulatory environment evolves, companies must proactively align their strategies to ensure compliance to both uphold sustainable practices and safeguard the industry’s future. 

2. Set science-driven targets for nature.

The call is clear: Fashion brands need to embrace sustainability and embark on a holistic transformation journey toward a future where fashion and nature coexist harmoniously. The relationship between fashion and nature needs to shift from extractive to reciprocal – nature provides the resources that underpin the industry and, in return, the industry must take actions that protect and restore ecosystems. One of the most pressing issues that fashion companies face is their overreliance on finite resources such as water, land and raw materials. If companies fail to reduce their impacts and dependencies on these various nature topics, they could expose themselves to operational, regulatory and reputational risk.

3. Transform product portfolios.

At the core of every brand’s identity lies its products, and as the industry pivots towards sustainability, a profound reassessment of product portfolios is imperative. Brands must embrace strategic pathways that diverge from traditional, linear business models and instead operate within planetary boundaries. Innovations in product design, manufacturing processes and material selection – or even reimagining the core structure of a brand’s business – can position brands as pioneers of meaningful change, fostering both sustainability and business resilience. 

4. Invest in data digitalization.

Digitalization is a big trend impacting footprint integration, at both corporate and product levels. With this shift come new complexities, all while existing impact assessment challenges (like tracking progress, developing roadmaps and transforming products and process) remain. In the current context of rapid growth and consolidation of the footprinting software market, brands need trusted support that ensures sustainability science drives selection criteria and decision making. Armed with the right insights, teams can make informed decisions that bring them closer to goals, mitigate risk and help the company adapt to a changing landscape.

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