Updated: Oct 22
Sustainability cannot be contained in one part. A sustainable brand must be holistic and the Supply chain is a big aspect of it. What is a supply chain? According to McKinsey, “The supply chain is the interconnected journey that raw materials, components, and goods take before their assembly and sale to customers.” It encompasses everything from sourcing raw materials to manufacturing, logistics, and retail. 50% of consumers expect sustainable methods of manufacturing and distribution. The organizations and individuals that the brand associates with should be following sustainable practices. In the fashion industry, there is no standard report or data that a brand is required to share with the public. Therefore, understanding the supply chain strategies in terms of sustainability and circularity requires a close analysis by individual brands or corporate.
According to the study by Avery Dennison on supply chain, “Around two out of five shoppers surveyed (43%) report that transparency about a product’s journey is important to them when buying clothing.” The supply chain has a major contribution to a brand’s environmental impact. Hence, the need to understand the supply chain and its policies is really important. Let's look at different parts of the supply chain and how it contributes to sustainability:
Design - Designers play a crucial role in promoting sustainability by creating designs that prioritize durability, versatility, and recyclability. They can embrace sustainable design principles such as using modular or multifunctional designs, incorporating upcycled or recycled materials, and considering the entire lifecycle of the product. For example, our one-size summer dresses and Abayas were designed keeping in mind a wide range of uses.
Raw materials - Sourcing environmentally friendly materials, such as organic cotton, Tencel, and Linen with a lower ecological footprint. Raw material suppliers can also implement responsible sourcing practices, ensuring that materials are ethically produced, such as through fair trade initiatives, and organically grown. Also, it's not just the production or the material itself that should be considered, but the other aspects like recyclability, longevity, etc.
Production - Here is where the designs become actual timeless pieces. The manufacturing process to be sustainable must be set up locally, considering energy-efficient methods and waste reduction. They should be using renewable sources of energy. If the production includes washing and dying, then water conservation and safe/chemical-free dying processes should be used. Ethical working conditions such as workers' safety and fair remuneration are crucial too.
Distribution - Distribution methods contribute significantly to the supply chain's impact on the environment. By producing and distributing closer to the point of consumption, the need for long-haul shipping is minimized, leading to lower transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. Optimizing transportation routes, consolidating shipments, and adopting greener transportation options such as electric vehicles or rail transport ensures sustainable practices. Implementing efficient inventory management systems to minimize waste and overstocking should be adopted. The distribution also includes shipment of minimalistic packaging that uses recyclable, biodegradable, or made from recycled content.
Retail - The final leg of the supply chain is the retailers. They have direct contact with customers and can help raise awareness of sustainable and circular practices. Brands should be conscious of selecting retailers that share similar sustainable practices. Retailers can promote sustainable consumption practices by encouraging customers to extend the lifespan of their garments. This includes offering repair and alteration services, promoting clothing rental and secondhand markets, and providing guidance on garment care and maintenance. By supporting circular fashion models, retailers can help reduce waste and the fashion industry's environmental impact.
In many places worldwide, laws are being proposed for understanding the supply chain and adopting more sustainable practices like European Green Deal or the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act in the US. With consumers demanding more transparency and knowledge and governments bringing in laws and regulations, the future of sustainable fashion seems promising.