STORES Magazine - June 2008 - (Page 30)

EXECUTIVE SUITE / GREEN RETAILING Green Isn’t Always Black or White Retailers, manufacturers and consumers weigh benefits of environmentally friendly apparel BY FIONA SOLTES ot long ago, Ian Yolles addressed a group of fashion and design students in Los Angeles. Just to get them going, the vice president of brand communications for Nau, an outdoor clothing line, opened his talk with the question: “If I say ‘green apparel,’ what comes to mind?” The responses — “Boring.” “Scratchy.” “Bland.” “Colorless.” — didn’t surprise him. N Yolles would argue that they don’t have to be any of these things, but true or not, there should probably be one more phrase on the list: “more expensive.” Though environmentally friendly clothing has improved by leaps and bounds in terms of durability, wearability and fashion appeal, those who want to do their part to help the environment by purchasing a fleece jacket made of recycled pop bottles, for example, are likely to find themselves still looking at higher price points than for the category as a whole. Not to mention feeling some confusion along the way. The average consumer has doubtless wondered whether cotton should necessarily be Americans say they are organic; whether it really “conscious consumers” makes a difference to purSource: BBMG chase from a company that follows sustainable practices in addition to offering green products; or whether the whole “eco-friendly” concept is just a marketing ploy. And in a sluggish economy, some may also ask whether “green” clothes are more luxury items than necessities. “I think that there’s a desire on almost everyone’s part to do at least one thing” that is environmentally friendly, says Diane MacEachern, author of “Big Green Purse: Using Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World.” “It’s: ‘All right, I’ve got it: I’ve got to do something, I’m willing to do something. But what in the world should I do?’ “There is a lot of bandying about of words that are very enticing to consumers, things like natural, green, earthfriendly, biodegradable, compostable,” MacEachern says, “but they don’t really mean anything. They may mean 30 STORES / JUNE 2008 9 out of 10 something to the manufacturer who may have a way of justifying the use of the word, but that doesn’t mean a product is true to the claim. Consumers don’t know who or what to believe.” From its inception, outdoor clothing and gear company Patagonia has been considered “green.” That reputation was established mainly by the fact that it donated funds to environmentally friendly causes. But these days, the company does a lot more than spread the wealth. In addition to offering items made from organic cotton and wool, chlorine-free wool, hemp and recycled/recyclable polyester, the company now offers an interactive mini-website called The Footprint Chronicles that allows consumers to track the environmental impact of various Patagonia products from design to delivery. It also offers a blog on green issues; has a LEED-certified service center; is helping WWW.STORES.ORG http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - June 2008

STORES Magazine - June 2008
Executive Editor's Page
President's Page
Tesco Tests Carbon Labels
What Shoppers Think
10 Things You May Have Missed
Numbers Worth Counting
Full Price/Markdown
Retail People
Cover Story: Boom - or Bust
Green Retailing
Online Marketing
Building Traffic
Water Management
Digital Marketing
Loyalty Programs
Special Report: Taking on Teens
Supply Chain - Robo Crop
Human Resources
Supply Chain - Directory Assistance
Loeb Retail Letter
ARTS Update
Point of View
NRF News
Retail Crossword
Retail Industry Calendar
Last Laugh

STORES Magazine - June 2008