I wrote an article last year about how the fashion industry has the fourth largest environment impact on the world and every time I read this fact, it still shocks me. The reason that it shocks me so much is that by working closely with sustainability professionals, I recognise how hard some of these people work to make their brands more environmentally friendly in ways, (until recently), I didn’t even know existed. They conduct extensive research into innovative fibres, examine their impacts on forests, oceans and people and create comprehensive plans and policies. Yet again and again, there seems to be barriers against gaining the most from corporate sustainability policies.
Millennials are more engaged with sustainable fashion than any other generation. Alice Goody, retail analyst for Mintelsays; “young consumers are driving this shift in attitudes. 44% of younger millennials – the 17-26 age range – said they would like to see more eco-friendly fabrics used in clothes.” This is compared to 34% of generation X and 30% of baby boomers.
H&M are a great example of a fashion brand who actively engage with their consumers about their sustainability efforts. They shout about all the activities that the brand is taking and their website explains why: “We want our customers to be proud of what they wear. Not only about how good they look, but also about the way the clothes are made and the environmental and social impact the garments have across our value chain.” By engaging these consumers and making them aware of the great work that your business is making towards more sustainable fashion items, you could just boost your customer base.
Innovations in fibre recycling – creating a circular economy
As technology has developed, innovators have developed processes by which we can use, reuse, and in some cases, create fibres in sustainable and ethical ways. This no longer needs to be limited to reusing second hand clothes, but rather creating something new from something old.
Sustainability or responsible innovation is by far the biggest trend in the industry right now,”
Chief Executive of Global Fashion Agenda
New innovative fibres are being created every day. One example of this is Orange Fibre, and yes, it is what it sounds like. Orange Fibre is a textile that is created by extracting the cellulose from fibres discarded during the processing of oranges. Apparently, the fibre is even enriched with oils that make it nourishing for the skin!
Embracing supply chain technology
One thing I see a lot is the repeated suggestion that fast fashion is a barrier to sustainable fashion – and at Segura, we believe that simply isn’t true! Fast fashion isn’t going anywhere and the brands who fail to keep up, well, they could be left behind.
All the signs are pointing to brands trying to speed up production and get it to market quicker, because that’s where the money is.
Journalist and writer of To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World?
In fact, it is possible to create fashion that is ethical, desirable and has a quick lead time, but this cannot be achieved without embracing supply chain technology. The Segura platform gives users the ability to submit a purchase order and then track the processing and production of that order all the way down to component level and beyond. The user is notified if any supplier fails to fulfil an order on time – so the brand is always aware if a shipment is at risk of being late and they can take remedial action before it becomes a bigger problem. They can also see whether a component was ordered out of their supplier list. So, your fashion can be fast, and ethical.
The efforts that sustainability professionals go to, to create a more ethical fashion industry is highly commendable. The great thing is, it seems like businesses are now catching up.