Sustainable Apparel: Technology, Mindset and Collaboration Are Key

Last month I had the pleasure of attending Innovation Forum’s Sustainable Apparel and Textiles Conference in Amsterdam. The event aimed to focus on how brands can transform factories, increase transparency and implement circularity into fashion and textile supply chains. This content and the sessions were a firm fit to our own mission at Segura, and a great opportunity for us to hear from other industry professionals who are as passionate as we are.

The two-day event was made up of well-known and respected industry professionals, some solution experts supporting and assisting brands, and a limited number of attendees, all of which expressed an opinion or interest in the subject.

If you’ve attended an Innovation Forum event before, you’ll know that Chatham House Rules apply and this definitely has its benefits - everyone was able to speak completely freely and honestly about their experiences and the challenges that they encounter.

The first day commenced with some complex industry issues and objectives, followed by a session on “How transparency can build trust and scale impact across textile supply chains” which really opened up into valuable discussion, with questions from the audience and many ideas put forward. The afternoon consisted of more focussed breakout sessions covering a range specific subjects, from workers’ wages and fair treatment of female workers, to the benefits of direct factory engagement, to digitisation, to tracing your supply chain beyond tier two.

Day-two focussed on building circularity into every business, case studies from some dyeing technologies that are better for the environment to Q&A sessions with larger retailers and brands.

These two days have opened minds to think about what happens to clothes during production and the impacts, together with what happens after we discard them, and how we can reuse and recycle them with many innovative solutions. As with any of Innovation Forum’s events the interesting and productive conversations are thought provoking and inspiring to think differently, bringing potential changes in our own business, although it’s still early days.

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The key take-away for me, was in order to really drive change within the apparel sector we need more collaboration and sharing of experiences. Innovation and using the latest technological developments are also critical, as is driving the passion of the sustainability teams upwards into boardrooms.

I cannot commend the IF team enough. They really thought about the issues that directly affected the sector and focussed the sessions on those subjects. They also did an excellent job of sourcing experienced, respected and well-informed panellists who each brought their own wealth of knowledge to the discussions held. Through this combination, IF were able to go into addressing some of the subjects surrounding sustainability, whilst providing an open forum that delved deeper into the reasoning behind the possible options for progress and the potential impacts.

IF have done an amazing job. As I said in my review last year, I will ensure that we attend again next year to see how far the industry has progressed, and to understand from an informed perspective, what we can do next to further drive the shift towards increased sustainability within global supply chains, and I stuck to my word!