Sustainable Fashion and Its Importance

Importance of sustainable fashion

Recent natural disasters we had to face around the world have intensified the debate about global warming. Some argue that the origin of Covid-19 is partly due to the unsustainable lifestyles of people, and the pandemic is a way of nature getting back on us. Given the current crisis, sustainability will be an essential factor for the fashion industry over the coming years as the climate crisis remains top of mind for most consumers and brands.

Ethical fashion, also known as sustainable fashion, is a movement that extends from the origin of raw materials to the hands of consumers. As one of the largest industries in the world, it places immense strain on resources and has an enormous environmental footprint. The numbers speak for themselves. 

According to the Sustainable Fashion Forum, 80 billion pieces of clothing are consumed each year. When it comes to fast fashion, it's estimated that 50% of what's produced is disposed of within a year. 10.5 million tons of clothing are sent to landfills each year.

When discussing sustainability, it doesn't only cover the impact of environmental pollution. It also covers the social side, preventing labor exploitations and supporting employees' rights alongside ecological challenges and solutions.

Related read: 50 Sustainable fashion terms and their definitions for Beginners 

According to recent research carried out by Vogue, 65% of business leaders in the fashion industry described sustainability as their key strategic challenge, despite the economic challenges created by Covid-19. It is clear that many brands are genuinely concerned about the impact of their businesses on the environment; hence, sustainability is at the core of firms’ strategy in many of them

It is worth noting that many customers are increasingly worried about mass production and the impact of global shipping on the environment. Naturally, when making purchasing decisions, consumers actively look to spend their money on brands that care about the environment. Essentially, this pushes brands to re-evaluate their sourcing strategies to reflect sustainability.

Currently, the main challenge for the industry hinged on how to operate a sustainable fashion business at scale. It needs to bring all stakeholders in the supply chain on board. This includes fabric mills & accessory suppliers, apparel manufacturers, shipping and hauling companies to embrace the idea and ensure sustainability is at the core of how they operate.

Implementing and genuine commitment to operating sustainably in the fashion industry requires brands and consumers to navigate a complex web of challenges. Brands will have to invest in the training and development of their supply chain partners on green manufacturing, labor compliance, and health & safety measures. It's advisable to use third-party consultants to ensure all stakeholders understand and follow the procedures as intended so tangible results can be achieved.

Related post: Importance of traceability in the textile supply chain  

We should celebrate that a lot is happening when it comes to making fashion more sustainable. As an industry, the apparel community can make significant changes through innovation and creativity. Already many companies have changed how they operate by introducing lean manufacturing tools, six sigma to reduce waste and increase efficiency, so fewer resources are used, and productivity maximized. Most manufacturers follow environmental standards introduced by ISO, LEED building certification, PCB certification, and so on.

Noting the changing perception of consumers and the new strategic approach of fashion buyers, it is advisable for apparel manufactures and raw material suppliers to pay attention to how they operate. Taking initiatives to ensure genuine efforts are taken would help to get the attention of buyers who are looking for supply chain partners with similar values and strategic goals.

Sources- Ethical Fashion Forum/ New York Times

Charm Rammandala

Dr. Charm Rammandala currently works as the Sustainable Program Manager at Apple Inc. USA. He has over 20 years of international management experience and previously contributed his expertise at Tesla, George Sourcing, and Vomax LLC.

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