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The fashion industry has been cataloged as one of the most harmful industries in the world for their high usage of natural materials as well as low salaries and less than ideal working places for their employees, making it something people have been against, more these past years with the rise of fast fashion which leave clothes from different seasons “unwearable” to some since it’s not trending.
In the latest Fashion Summit, the Global Fashion Agenda (which is the non-profit organization who runs the event) talked about the priorities fashion brands should consider in order to be in the top tier fashion industry.
These are actions fashion brand all over the world should address in the short and long-term spectrum.
They offered some advice and guidance on how to start which we will talk about now.
Supply Chain Trace-ability
Most brands around the world have a supply chain which is complicated and often times unknown to their own staff which makes it hard to track the source of the materials used for products. By putting suppliers across different stages of the production you can solve the dilemma at hand.
Another important advice they left was publishing the list of suppliers the brand has in order to increase its transparency.
Efficient Use of Water, Energy, and Chemicals
Like we mentioned before, fashion is one of the environments most harmful industries with carbon emissions as well as water and chemical pollution taking a toll on the world.
Brands need to track their water consumption in order to optimize its use, find better ways to tan their clothing in order to use fewer chemicals in the process and use cleaner sources of energy that lower carbon-based ones.
By looking for ways to be as efficient as possible it can reduce the cost of supplies like water and help the environment as well as the brand.
Better Work Environments
The fashion industry is no stranger to poor work environments in order to push better prices for their clothing and this has brought a bad reputation to it. A normal worker in a fashion brand factory can be in danger of chemicals, discrimination, and exploitation and without good working conditions it’s just a matter of time before a catastrophic accident occurs.
Instead of waiting for said disaster to happen it’s better to create working conditions and policies that adhere to universal human rights.
Even if the cost goes up in order to create this, people will appreciate it and see the brand as a company who cares about their workers.
Sustainable Material Mix
Choosing a color for a clothing piece can define up to 50 percent of the brand's environmental footprint, but still, there hasn’t been any significant movement when it comes to material innovation.
Brands should consider the use of better materials like organic cotton and look to invest in the development of a material that doesn’t contaminate as much as the ones being used right now.
Promotion of Better Wage Systems
The fashion industry is considered as one of the leading industries in promoting work, (60 million inside its chain) yet its wages for the countries where the garment is produced is low and doesn’t give enough to cover basic needs.
Fashion brands should take this into consideration and ensure suppliers have the local law wage requirements in check and see how they could contribute to give better wages to said workers.
Fourth Industrial Revolution
Technology has changed the fashion industry to the better by lowering the time it takes to create a garment while leaving as little wasted material as possible.
We still don’t know where technology and innovation can lead us to but people estimate that in some countries automation could replace close to 90 percent of the workers of a factory. Fashion brands need to take this into consideration and see how technology could affect a workers life.
It’s important to understand that the first 3 priorities are meant to be worked on as soon as possible while the ones from 4 to 6 are meant to be long-term problems that need to be worked on
All of this was discussed in the summit and was accepted by most of the CEOs and founders of brands like H&M making it something that will become reality in a matter of years.