Sustainability is at the top of the fashion industry's agenda, as leaders recognize the urgent need to move toward responsible practices under growing consumer and regulatory pressures. The question is how the industry will transform to achieve a sustainable operating model. A step change requires disruptive innovation in the form of new materials, processes, technologies, and business models.
The fashion industry has historically engaged in a cost-driven race to the bottom, giving little attention to radical new technologies. However, a perfect storm of innovation and opportunity is now forming, and investors and companies that can capitalize on sustainability and impact-driven innovation will transform the industry. The study calculates that transitioning toward sustainability yields a $20 billion to $30 billion financing opportunity per year to develop and scale disruptive innovations. The latter case requires innovation to emerge at a faster pace before 2030, which in turn calls for investments to increase by a factor of three or more over their current levels.
With its $2 trillion market size, the fashion industry offers major untapped opportunities for investors and companies. But to bring the necessary solutions to scale, all players—fashion brands, supply chain partners, investors, and others—need to step up to accelerate innovation. The clock is ticking for the industry to advance, and companies and investors that act boldly and rapidly will lead the transformation and ultimately win.
"While the first steps have been taken, fashion needs to embrace and accelerate innovation to future-proof the industry. Doing so opens up major untapped returns for those who can capitalize on the upcoming technological disruption," said Sebastian Boger, a BCG managing director and partner.
"Disruptive solutions that can offer major leaps forward toward circularity exist today, and the opportunities to invest and scale them within the industry are vast. This seminal study provides powerful insights and a clear call to action for all players to collaboratively drive innovation," said Katrin Ley, managing director of Fashion for Good.
The report includes the following key findings:
Only a fraction of all available capital has been invested in fashion and textile technology, leaving many innovators stuck in a financing gap that hinders their ability to develop and scale their innovations.
In fashion, nearly half of the $20 billion to $30 billion annual financing opportunity lies at the beginning and the end of the value chain, where raw materials and end-of-use solutions have the highest impact potential.
Innovators struggle to bridge the "missing middle" of finance between early venture capital and late-stage funding.
Orchestration and consortiums are essential to help innovators find the right support and financing, give brands faster access to scalable technologies, and offer investors better opportunities.
In return for helping innovators develop and increase their chances of commercialization, brands benefit through offtake agreements, pilot projects, and direct investment.
Financing will flow into the fashion space if all actors involved build toward conditions that promote attractive returns and measurable impact with manageable risk.
To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or [email protected]. To arrange an interview with Fashion for Good, please contact Anne-Ro Klevant Groen at +31 6 15 36 78 75 or [email protected].
About Boston Consulting Group Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we help clients with total transformation—inspiring complex change, enabling organizations to grow, building competitive advantage, and driving bottom-line impact.
To succeed, organizations must blend digital and human capabilities. Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives to spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting along with technology and design, corporate and digital ventures—and business purpose. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, generating results that allow our clients to thrive.
About Fashion for Good Fashion for Good is the global initiative that is here to make all fashion good. It's a global platform for innovation, made possible through collaboration and community. With an open invitation to the entire apparel industry, Fashion for Good convenes brands, retailers, producers, innovators, and funders united in their shared ambition.
At the core of Fashion for Good is our Innovation Platform. Our global Fashion for Good Accelerator Programme gives promising start-up innovators the expertise and access to funding they need in order to grow. Our Scaling Programme supports innovations that have passed the proof-of-concept phase. Our Good Fashion Fund catalyses access to finance to shift at scale to more sustainable production methods.
Fashion for Good's program are supported by founding partner C&A Foundation, cofounder William McDonough, and corporate partners adidas, C&A, Chanel, Bestseller, Galeries Lafayette Group, Kering, Otto Group, PVH Corp., Stella McCartney, Target, and Zalando, and affiliate partners Arvind, Norrøna, Vivobarefoot, and Welspun.