Circularity and sustainability in fashion is the buzzword now. Most buyers are expecting manufacturers to do something in this regard. There are numerous seminars being organised regularly. Only awareness and changing mindset will achieve the necessary result? Or, we need some solid technology intervention to achieve the sustainable goal? Here is what the industry stakeholders think!
Craig Crawford, Founder, CrawfordIT, Essex, England
No doubt about it, sustainability is the conversation now; but it’s like everyone’s talking about it, whereas very few are actually doing it. And those who are doing it aren’t doing it well. That’s not to say it won’t get any better, and here’s where tech can help. Once a company has set its goals (whether it’s about consuming less water, or banning certain chemicals, or best practice labour standards, or organic raw materials), technology can help track the data against the metrics the company has set for itself. Currently, so much of this data (on paper or on .pdf files) is being chased after manufacturing rather than being captured before, during and after.
For example, if the goal is to source more organic raw materials, technology can disseminate that goal, to make everyone in the supply chain aware. Then as materials are reviewed for inclusion in a brand’s product assortment, relevant data can be captured right then – during introduction – to see how it measures up against the initiative. Decisions can be made more easily at the start of product development rather than switching things out in pre-production. During manufacturing process, audits can be captured via mobile phones or tablets – making data entry in the field simple and easy. And dashboards that organise this data in real time, allow the CSR teams to view progress at every step of the way.
Many PLM providers are offering this now, such as sustainability-specific technology provider Pivot88, which focuses on in-line processes as well as post production audit and quality.
However, technology alone won’t solve the issues. People need to use the tech and operate differently when new tools such as these are introduced. Sustainability is a multi-faceted problem, and the solution requires tech, new processes and new operational behaviour for it all to succeed.
RM N Ramanathan, Manager (Technical Design), Reliance Retail, Bangalore (India)
Manufacturers in the textile and apparel industry have a responsibility to practice sustainability and live by the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra. Nowadays, they are fiercely adopting an approach where garments are made using natural energy and avoiding pollution. While ethical fashion may not solve all of our problems with unsafe chemicals, water shortages, energy consumption, or overflowing landfills, it allows us to reduce impact on the environment and invest in safer, more sustainable practices.
Yes, sustainability has become a marketing tool for the apparel manufacturers and especially for retail formats across the globe who are using this ‘buzzword’ as a concept. The end customers are not that much aware how these products are made and how to discard the same after the use. The cycle of process is not closed at this moment. When the awareness about the sustainable product lifecycle is taken to the end consumer, then only we can get the complete essence of the product usage at the customer level. Only the concept has to be taken to end consumer describing the life of a product and how it has to be discarded after use.
If this initiative is taken, I am quite certain that the product manufactured by the manufacturers will definitely get success in the market. The affordability to buy the products is the key point that we have to consider for reaching the end user in the supply chain.
Pravesh Kaushik, Business Head – Apparel, TATA CLiQ , Mumbai India
‘The Glam Face’ is the second greatest polluter of local freshwater in the world. We are eroding natural resources at much faster a pace than we can imagine. And all this is to ‘look good’ and ‘in-trend’. Who is responsible for this? The customers, the manufacturers or the retailers…? It’s a vicious circle. The basic of economics is balance Demand & Supply and everyone has to play their part.
Needless to say, there has to be a solid technology intervention. The innovation has to be pushed through the ‘bone marrow’ of the supply chain. But would it be sufficient to just innovate and wait for things to happen? The answer is NO. Using waste and recycling is one bit of it. ‘Push’ is the first thing, but ‘pull’ needs to be stronger.
As a consumer, one needs to demand a clean product. If I am ready to pay an extra buck for sustainable fashion, why would the retailer or manufacturer be unwilling to pass on the cost to the consumer? The economic inequality, the top 1 per cent of the world holding nearly 45 per cent of the world’s wealth, would never let that happen. The masses have to come together to play their role.
The retailers have to educate the consumer. Holding seminars amongst each other is a great start but we need to push the boundaries. It needs to go out beyond the ‘walls’. The sales pressure on retailers to keep them afloat above the P&L responsibilities can only allow them to allocate a certain percentage for such initiatives.
The manufacturers have to pump in the funds in re-inventing the processes. That’s where technology plays a vital role. The brands are now recycling the waste and almost without compromising on the product aesthetics or ‘touch-n-feel’, their product is trying to make way into the market and to the consumer’s heart.
The clothing waste accumulated between today and 2025 will weigh as much as today’s world population. An equivalent of 1 dump truck of textiles gets landfilled or burned every second.
In such a scenario, we are bound to do all that we can. Passing on the buck to one another is only going to worsen the situation. There have to be incentives attached to everyone in the chain to pull it their way. The technology has to be upgraded and re-invented. The sustainability initiatives can’t be limited to a certain per cent in the business. And all of this can’t just be perceived as a gimmick. This can’t be the selling point but hygiene can be imbibed effortlessly into the whole mechanism of making the world ‘beautiful and in-trend’.