The fashion industry represents a significant part of the global company, with a value of more than 2.5 trillion $USD. Its growth was unstoppable until the COVID pandemic happened. While the pandemic and its negative impact on businesses are not going away just yet, so are the range of adverse environmental and socio-economic effects that the industry is responsible for. As countries and global become more conscious of sustainability, smaller businesses face challenges producing sustainable products that align with their brand while remaining profitable. In this article, we discuss the initial steps you can take in embracing sustainability in your business.
Revisit your supply chain
Many companies do not have a comprehensive understanding of the sustainability impacts of their supply chain. An initial step you can do is to evaluate your current suppliers, identify the most significant environmental and social challenges, and carefully craft strategies around these challenges while being mindful of the economic impact on your business. Currently, like Ralph Lauren follow the Cradle to Cradle guidelines as a standard in creating safer, more sustainable products made for the circular economy.
Produce the right products
One of the ways to reduce wastage is to be mindful of the products that a brand is going to produce. Furthermore, the fashion industry also had contributed roughly 20% of the world’s wastewater. Ensuring that the products you create or sell align with consumer demand can eliminate the risk of eventually being disposed of if unsold. Disposed clothes are incinerated, and again fuel gets used in large amounts.
Market data plays a significant role in gathering the insights and information of what products to produce until creating the launching frequency strategy. Market insight tools like Omnilytics can support dan retailers to validate and identify the right items to produce to reduce the risk of leftovers and being ethical in running fashion .
“There’s an added layer of difficulty because supply chain transparency goes beyond knowing where raw materials come from but also about who makes them and how.”
Incorporating sustainability in your brand’s supply chain management is a great way to communicate company values and culture to your suppliers and customers. Setting and communicating expectations through a supplier’s code of conduct is essential in engaging suppliers in your sustainability efforts.
Many resources and tools are available to assist companies in developing a supplier code of conduct. For example, the United Nations Global Compact publication has guidelines and tips for writing and adopting a successful supplier code of conduct.
Upcycle items as a trendy alternative
Innovation is one of the critical measures in creating a sustainable supply chain. For example, you can donate excess materials from production or unsold items to companies specialising in manufacturing apparel through donated and found garments. This strategy is what we call upcycled fashion, and it is becoming a norm instead across the globe.
Upcycling is a technique that takes scraps of used or old clothing and creates clothes that outperform the original. As a result, these garments have a greater artistic and environmental value for a circular economy.
More factors are contributing to sustainability aside from being environmentally conscious. As a small business, you can start integrating sustainability with the few initial steps mentioned above. Considering this, while your brand is still small, will allow you to grow and encourage more to follow.