A Sustainable Supply Chain Begins With Corporate Transparency & Consumer Responsibility

Needless pollution caused by the fashion industry has been a hot topic of conversation for a while now. It has brought about the kind of pressure from conscious consumers that has driven significant fashion brands to take sustainability seriously. More and more fashion companies are cleaning up their image by adopting a much greener approach to how they do business. In doing so, the fashion industry is learning that transparency is all about trust, and traceability is about accountability.


The Fragmented Supply Chain

The wastefulness of the fashion industry has been blamed on its fragmented supply chain. Fashion companies have not only lost touch with how their fabrics are made; they have also been faulted for not knowing who runs the factories that manufacture their products. On this Orsola de Castro, co-founder of the transparency index Fashion Revolution told Rancontour, “The fashion supply chain, in all its discombobulated glory, is a problem in itself. It is as inefficient as it is opaque. It is designed to hide rather than proclaim.” 

Although industry-wide transparency has improved 5%, the fashion industry still has a collective responsibility to recognize the importance of being a more sustainable business. Because we can’t fix what we can’t see, it is imperative that fashion businesses commit to cleaning their supply chain which requires them to invest in environmentally friendly materials and to also find a better production methods.  A more sustainable supply chain would not only flatter a brand’s image; it will also give them a competitive advantage in the market.

A sustainable supply chain is being adopted by the likes of Mango, Zara, H&M and ASOS. They have launched sustainable ranges that are not only designed with environmentally friendly fabrics, but their processes are also traceable. This is the step in the right direction for high street brands, who have a reputation for embracing fast fashion. Minimizing waste and taking environmental practices seriously is now the cool thing to do.  So is providing closed-circle services. 

Changing one’s mindset makes one mindful. This is why it is crucial for consumers to become more aware of how the fashion industry is affecting the environment negatively, has driven fashion businesses to develop a sustainable supply chain. Season-driven fashion is no longer viewed as the future; instead, fashion labels are encouraged to take responsibility by constructing a sustainable supply chain by investing in eco-materials, monitor sustainable manufacturing and promoting eco-fashion. “We believe we can innovate our way through any problem, but the problems are extraordinarily complex,” Eric Sprunk, Nike COO, said.

If you zoom out, the adoption of a sustainable supply chain is easily viewed as win-win for both consumer and companies, but the problem is that there lacks investment in the exploration of the issues at the center of the transparency. The solution is that openness needs to be part of a fashion brands mission; it needs to be rooted in the brand’s DNA. There is no room for secrecy and a closed door attitude anymore. 

A healthy supply chain should communicate in one language that consumers can also understand.” (We should) align on a shared vision and agenda and set industry targets,” said  Cecilia Strömblad Brännsten, H&M Group environmental sustainability manager. Brannsten has a point; companies should not focus on their own competences; they should instead look into how we can change the current business models so that they can support a more transparent supply chain.

Written by Muchaneta Kapfunde


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