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Between communication and sustainability: the importance of packaging in fashion

Packaging in fashion represents a key factor to deliver effective sustainability-orientated strategies starting from the ability to communicate effectively through the product itself.

What is packaging in the fashion industry?

Packaging in fashion represents a key element and plays a much bigger role than people could realise, especially in the technology and sustainability driven era we’re living in.

It does not only regard boxes or bags as protection for garments but also as a new means of communication that fashion brands could leverage for their marketing goals.

Through QR codes and other technologies, in fact, brands can give consumers precious information about the sustainability and authenticity of products, refresh the reputation of brands and provide a brand-new customer experience based on solid storytelling.

So why is packaging so relevant in the fashion industry and to the process of helping the sector achieve its sustainable goals? Let’s find out. 

How does the fashion industry impact the environment?

According to the Environmental Impact of the Global Apparel and Footwear Industries Study, the fashion industry generates up to 10% of global pollution while the European Environmental Agency has ranked clothing, textiles and especially footwear fourth in the list of industries that produce significant impact on the environment.

These data are worrying, considering that a big part of this environmental impact also has to do with the packaging used by the fashion industry:

  • A significant quantity of plastic waste without a proper recycling programme;
  • A lack of use of recycled materials for the production of packaging, related not only to plastic but also to paper, cardboard and fabric;
  • A lack of strategic use of packaging which could serve as a great tool to enhance brand communication and reputation, for branding but especially for sustainability-orientated strategies. 

The role of brand communication about sustainability through packaging

Fashion brands can play a big role in the development of a common and shared sense of responsibility related to environmental care and sustainability of business and shopping processes, concerning producers, sellers and above all consumers.

The effort of brands is key to achieving as many as possible of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), concerning, for example, the use of clean energy, climate action and the development of sustainable ways to produce, live and innovate.

Some companies already set plans about sustainability for the future: Nike wants to improve operational efficiency and reduce waste by 10%, while H&M wants to introduce at least 25% of reusable and recyclable packaging and reduce emissions by 2025 and make sure that the production of the packaging of its products comes from recycled and sustainably sourced materials by 2030. 

communication and sustainability

How to leverage packaging in fashion: ways to promote your brand

Packaging in fashion industry is something that brands should consider with much more attention in order to promote themselves and achieve important marketing goals connected to the relevance of sustainability while improving customer experience.

How’s possible to leverage packaging for fashion brands? When it comes to clothes, packaging may represent a key factor telling much more than one could think about the products and their story. This was, packaging serves brands as a real mean of communication able to send specific messages to consumers: one of the most important elements is sure the sustainability.

Nowadays consumers are very keen about what they buy and, thanks to digital technologies, it’s becoming easier to find information related to brands and their products, in order to learn about the processes of collection of resources and raw materials, production and distribution. The point is: a true sustainable brand can show that sustainability is a key factor for the company and its work.

Let’s check some ways to promote fashion brands leveraging on packaging.

Use recycled materials for packaging

The simplest and most obvious point of course revolves around the production of new packaging starting from recycled materials, a very green choice to prevent wastes - especially of plastic materials, which are very dangerous threatening environment and wild animals lives - and even save production costs by reusing materials which, otherwise, would be thrown away.

Provide customers with sustainable and reusable bags

Shopping bags are one of the symbols of fashion shopping, but how many times do consumers use them after their purchases? Starting from this perspective, it’s very important for brands to provide their customers with sustainable and reusable bags which must be:

  • made with recycled materials;
  • part of a branding strategy, including the company logo, a message or, why not, a digital support like a QR code to engage consumers on a deeper lever;
  • a product itself that customers can keep using while going shopping, according to the Bring Your Own Bag  

Explore the fashion upcycling opportunities for packaging

A very interesting factor concerns fashion upcycling, which is the creative recycle of materials and products that would otherwise be wasted. Brands what operate upcycling leverage on sustainability in a smart way, improving with creativity their own image by recreating products with an increased perceived value rather than the original materials. This applies especially to garments, but why not to fashion packaging too? 

How packaging in fashion can improve customers experience

How about combining the effectiveness of packaging with the power of digital transformation? In the fashion industry nowadays connected products mark a revolution in terms of customer experience and storytelling, both for brands as a whole and specific products. The only things needed are a QR code and a smartphone.

With the use of technology, packaging can turn a product into a connected product and the packaging becomes a true companion to help sell the garment, by providing a way to authenticate it and provide extra information about the brand and the product itself, providing:

  • the whole story behind the product, from the collection of raw and recycled materials through all the production and distribution processes, exactly until the moment clothes get into the consumer's hands.
  • Involving the consumer in the product's sustainability journey, by providing possibilities to use and reuse the clothes they are buying and even the packaging that’s presenting it, making it even more convenient than throwing away;
  • possibilities to engage consumers with the contents of specific influencers related to the product they’re buying, for example, a famous athlete for a pair of sneakers;
  • enabling brands to provide guides to consumers to help them live and buy in a more sustainable without giving up the pleasure of fashion shopping.
04 Apr 2023

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