Long-term sustainability, quality, and fairness are the guiding principles for French “slow fashion” companies developing their business models on the concept of “sufficiency.”

These companies focus on consumers’ actual needs, in contrast to fast fashion companies that create trends and thereby needs, says Oksana Mont from Lund University, who explores this in a chapter of a new book.

“Fast fashion” – a major climate and environmental culprit
The fashion industry accounts for about 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions. The reason for the fashion industry’s large emissions is “fast fashion” – a business model characterized by rapid trends, low-cost clothing, and low quality. This leads to massive waste and ever-growing consumption, as the clothes quickly wear out and become outdated. In response, a movement of clothing companies practicing “slow fashion” has emerged.

Sufficiency-based clothing companies are largely unexplored
The IPCC defines “sufficiency” as practices or measures that limit the demand for energy and resources. In short, it means reducing productivity. Previous research on sufficiency has often overlooked the role of companies in the transition to a sufficiency-based economy. Additionally, very little research exists on the clothing industry’s engagement with “sufficiency.” The current study aims to fill this gap.

Similar business strategies but different approaches to growth
How did the companies approach operationalising “sufficiency”? Primarily by designing garments for long lifespan and durability. All companies aim for a fundamental change in the textile industry, which is evident in several ways.

The companies have a different perception of time, focusing on long-term sustainability and quality rather than quantity. Another aspect is that fairness is a central value—the companies consider all stakeholders, including the environment and society, which contrasts with traditional companies’ focus on shareholders’ interests, says Oksana Mont, a professor of sustainable consumption governance.

However, the companies had different views on growth.
– Some completely reject the idea of growth, while others have a more balanced although critical view. This shows that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ model for sufficiency, which can be beneficial for the movement’s spread, says Oksana Mont.

Klara Vedin

Read more in the book “Sufficiency in Business – The Transformative Potential of Business for Sustainability”, the chapter Towards Sustainability in Fashion.

Oksana Mont
Professor in sustainable consumption governance, The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University, Lund
+46 46 222 02 50