Over the past few years, the apparel sector has undergone a significant transformation, with a growing corporate focus on developing more sustainable products. Prominent industry players, including the likes of H&M, Kering, and Stella McCartney, made commitments at COP27 to incorporate sustainable fibers into their products. The industry has also seen substantial progress in addressing critical issues such as forest and ecosystem protection, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of fashion supply chains.
However, there are definitive challenges for apparel brands to enable the necessary change. Increasingly companies are looking to peer collaboration and collective action and Innovation Forum’s sustainable apparel and textiles conference
in Amsterdam will be a chance for leading brands to gather and discuss the big issues such as zero-waste designs, supply chain challenges and microfibre pollution. Ahead of the event, the Innovation Forum team has been speaking with leading sector companies and other stakeholders to highlight some of the initiatives that can make an impact at scale.
Waste as a resource
According to the European Commission,
global textiles production doubled between 2000 and 2015 with 5.8m tonnes of textiles waste produced in the EU annually – and utilising this waste is a huge opportunity. In a recent podcast interview, Anurag Gupta, managing director of Usha Yarns, introduced the company’s work developing yarns from recycled fibres that can help reduce the apparel sector’s impacts, and explained how it uses pre-consumer cotton waste from Indian garment factories to create more sustainable fibres.
You can listen to the full podcast interview with Anurag Gupta and Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh here.
Upcycle, reuse and recycle
Upcycling, recycling and the use of recycled materials have been catalysts in developing more circularity in the apparel sector. However, challenges remain – the scale of the current textile recycling infrastructure remains small and demand is still weak.
Apparel brands are increasingly recognising they have a significant responsibility to limit the use of virgin fibres and re-shape the industry. As part of Innovation Forum’s state of apparel series, experts came together for a recent webinar to discuss how to close the loop and create a circular economy with recycled materials. During this hour-long session, the conversation, moderated by Innovation Forum’s Tanya Richard, was led by Nienke Steen from Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute, Lindex’s Anna-Karin Dahlberg and Steven Bethell from Bank & Vogue. Key takeaways included the need to incentivise companies to design products with the end of their lifecycle in mind, and scaling waste management and recycling infrastructure to ensure a consistent and reliable supply of recycled materials.
to listen to the audio recording as a podcast.
Worker rights and a living wage
Among the greatest issues in the fashion industry, delivering living wages is high up on the list. Low wages continue to be a problem – though companies are gradually addressing the issue.
Tiffany Rogers, director of fair compensation and member engagement at Fair Labor Association talked recently with Innovation Forum’s Hannah Halmari, project director of the sustainable apparel and textiles conference. They had an in-depth conversation about the impacts of corporate living wage commitments to improve worker rights within the apparel sector. Rogers highlighted the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration in scaling living wage initiatives and shared guidance on corporate responsible purchasing practices.
You can listen to the full podcast interview here.
Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse is a pressing challenge and measuring biodiversity performance throughout the value chains is crucial for apparel brands. It is, however, not easy to do.
Liesl Truscott from Textile Exchange, PANGAIA’s Amanda Parkes and Franklin Holley at Conservation International gathered to discuss the best practice from brands building nature-positive strategies today. In a webinar moderated by Tanya Richard, they highlighted the need for alignment on corporate biodiversity measurement and using the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure’s framework to report and verify their biodiversity impacts.
to listen to the webinar recording as a podcast.