Greenwashing and Metawashing: How Fast Fashion Hides Its Carbon Footprint Behind Web 3 and the Metaverse


Last year was considered fast fashion Eight to 10 percent Global carbon emissions and 20 percent of waste water production (Result of dyeing processes in garment manufacturing).

However, the industry has something else in mind – Metavas.

Fast fashion’s entry into the digital world begs the question; Will the $106 billion division seize the opportunity to start over in a new state, or is it investing its resources into the meta opposite of fixing its real-world issues?

Inditex virtual integration

Take Zara for example. The retail giant – a subsidiary of Inditex – launched its long-term Metavas initiative in 2021 and released its third collaboration capsule with Korean gaming platform Zepeto earlier this month. The project included both digital and physical items, as was the case with the duo’s ‘Lime Glam’ and ‘Y2K’ phygital lines, which debuted in April and October of last year.

As the brand moves forward with its Metaverse collections, it continues to release more 450 million items of clothing Through 20,000 new styles every year. In the year In 2021, the waste created by Inditex was huge. 20,400 tonsIn 2020, it showed an increase of 10.4 percent..

Zara’s roadmap to Metavarus is focused on phygital collection lines. But at what environmental cost? Photo: Zepeto

Greenwashing 2.0

Fast fashion’s move into the Web3 world draws attention away from real-world issues, such as looming environmental catastrophe, and brands are allocating resources to the virtual world that could be used to address these challenges.

Green washing methods also have a virtual upgrade. the word “metawashing” – created last year as if Simon Whitehouse, Ex CEO of sustainability consulting firm Eco-Edge – describes a process where he spends more time developing virtual brand marketing and metaverse projects than minimizing brand sustainability impact.

Opened earlier this month, Bershka’s (also an Inditex business) second creation in virtual space aims to harness the endless possibilities of a single garment when combined with augmented reality (AR) technology. Using Instagram filters, users can jazz up their outfits and online personas by embellishing their physical clothes with digital overlays.

He said the project demonstrated how ‘semi-digital’ activation through the use of AR technology could reduce overconsumption and ultimately reduce impulse fashion purchases. However, the brand’s brick-and-mortar stores sell them 4,000 different products per year.

Meanwhile, critics point to a lack of disclosure, or “green color, It frees companies from making commitments that are set in stone. More transparency around Web3 activities is needed if the industry is to have any success in reducing its impact.

Fast fashion label Bershka’s latest Web3 project tapped AR technology to enhance the potential of clothing. Photo: Bershka

The real deal?

Another example is H&M’s tie-up with the Digital Platform and Digital Fashion Sustainability Institute last year, which was meant to shine a spotlight on the creative potential of digital fashion. A more sustainable and comprehensive vision, as mentioned in the project’s press release.

“Working with international brands like H&M has been educational from an educational perspective,” says Leanne Elliott Young, CEO and founder of the Digital Fashion Institute. Jing Daily.

As part of H&M’s ‘Innovation Metaverse Design Story’, the duo created a five-piece. Digital fashion capsule collection. “The digital transformation we led was an infrastructural change for the brand. Investing in digital fashion is investing in more sustainable practices; we need a process and mindset shift to fully transition to a sustainable fashion industry,” continues Yang.

The project, however, also works with an apparel line. One of the items found is a bodycon dress made using 94 percent polyester – a synthetic material that takes centuries to break down, eliminates toxic microfibers and emits three times more carbon emissions than cotton.

Responsible for production. 3 billion clothes per yearJust recycle it around 10 percent Among them, H&M is one of the industry’s biggest polluters. It also recently got into hot water for release Unclear sustainability claims.

To date, fast fashion’s reluctance to rapidly make major changes to its operating model has demonstrated its inefficiency and inaccuracy in its measurement.

H&M’s tie-up with IODF has brought to life a digital fashion capsule collection showcasing the possibilities of digital clothing. Photo: IoDF

A different approach

Some rising stars have cracked the code of innovation while reducing their environmental impact. Like Mntge, his team produced identical gems and connected them to both a near-field communication (NFC) chip and a digital NFT twin.

Using next-gen technology, the label extends the life cycle of clothes rather than creating new ones.

“We know it’s hard to be completely sustainable for anything…that’s why we’re getting so much wine. These brands have created fantastic products that have stood the test of time. There’s no need to create new products,” said Sean Wotherspoon, co-founder of Mtge. Jing Daily.

While being 100 percent eco-friendly isn’t feasible, brands still need to find ways to reduce their environmental impact, Wotherspoon says.

“We want to see our brand use 70 percent hand-selected and organically sourced wine and 30 percent new products using recycled materials. We want to reduce the need to produce new things,” he added.

The appeal of fast fashion is its global reach and low cost. That’s something very small accounts can’t afford.

“We want to tap into markets outside of the US. This is going to be a big thing for Monte. Our future growth will include pop-up and immersive events where we can bring people to our brand, experience it and give back to this great wine,” says Wotherspoon.

For the ‘Fruits and Vegetables’ collection, Mntge brought vintage Levi’s patterns and embroidered them with their own designs. Photo: Mntge

on demand

While Mntge’s model is unique, Web3 native labels like Cult & Rain, 9dcc and RTFKT have adopted a made-to-order production system. It is a strategy that reduces the amount of materials used in the garment manufacturing process and ensures a zero-waste result.

The fast fashion brand, however, did not make any specifics for the models ordered with their own physical collections, indicating that these clothes will be produced in the same factories as their regular clothing lines.

In Bershka’s case, the only information the brand has provided on its waste reduction efforts is a brief statement on its website, which states, “We guarantee that all waste generated in our facilities (stores, logistics centers, central offices) is reused or recycled.” .

Also, Zara’s fitness collections with Zepetto do not reveal any information about where the physical counterparts were created.

A more radical solution to issues like greenhushing is to eschew the digital ambitions of fast fashion to focus on solving its real-world challenges.


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