International gatherings such as last week’s MAPIC Retail Property event in France are great places to indulge in some ‘blue sky’ thinking and get a feel for what the future may bring.

As touched on before in these blogs, the property business has been pretty slow off the mark in terms of embracing ESG (environmental, social and governance) principles. However, other sectors are not dragging their feet.

At one of the new sustainability sessions in the MAPIC conference programme, Nicolas Cabanes of digital innovation agency, Fabernovel, spoke about a world in which fashion and sustainability go hand in hand. His proposal for making this a reality is ‘Habiscore’ – a sustainable clothing rating system that ranks clothing from A to E based on identifiable factors from textile sourcing and production through to manufacturing and sale. It is a similar concept to France’s Nutri-Score which ranks foods according to their health/nutrition rating.

The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has also put his weight behind this trend by endorsing The Fashion Pact – a global coalition of brands, suppliers and distributors across the fashion and textile industry which is committed to key environmental goals: stopping global warming, restoring biodiversity and protecting the oceans. Already the pact has commitment from international brands such as Mango, Gant, Farfetch and Calzedonia.

In his presentation, Cabanes also referenced London-based designer Martine Jaarlgard’s pilot labelling initiative which uses blockchain technology to allocate each garment a unique digital token. This enables verification across every step of the production process, and a digital history all of which is accessible to consumers via an interface they can access through a QR code or NFC-enabled label.

According to a study from McKinsey & Company, consumers keep clothing for about half as long as they did 15 years ago, and nearly three-fifths of items ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being made. Not only could initiatives such as Habiscore and the Jaarlgard pilot scheme provide consumers with greater clarity about the environmental factors of their purchases, they can act as an industry benchmarking system that can pull the industry towards a more sustainable way of being.

It will be interesting to see when we shall have something similar in the UK – and whether a new Prime Minister will be as engaged in the process as their French counterpart.