There’s an ongoing sustainability crisis in the apparel industry. With global inflation, climate change and increasing consumer awareness of environmental issues, fashion execs are in the hot seat to set viable strategies to reach net zero. Governments are also tightening regulations on apparel supply chains. In the US, the New York Fashion Act
returns with tougher regulations to hold brands accountable on environmental and social due diligence policies, expected to come into effect later this year. The clock is ticking, and effective action towards addressing these issues is needed.
US businesses are gradually adapting practices to follow the current trends of sustainability. Last year, Fashion For Good expanded their Sorting for Circularity Project
to the US to address textile waste. The project involves adidas, Levi Strauss and Nordstrom, amongst others. The American fashion holding company, Tapestry, has also partnered with The Ellen MacArthur Foundation to promote circular economy within the industry.
Tapestry, PVH, Gap, lululemon, Timberland, L.L.Bean, Carhartt and many more are gathering at the Innovation Forum’s sustainable apparel and textiles conference
on 21st-22nd June in New York to discuss how brands can transform supply chains and scale circularity. Registrations are still open, if you wish to register.
Ahead of the event, the Innovation Forum team has been in conversation with leading sector companies and other stakeholders to highlight some of the initiatives that can bring impact at scale.
Implementing net zero plans
Many apparel brands have pledged to reach net zero by 2050; a huge step in the right direction. However, they are now faced with the challenge of how to achieve the goal effectively. In a recent conversation with Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh, Scott Kelly, senior vice president at Risilience shared guidance on implementing net zero plans in apparel supply chains. Key takeaways include the need to measure carbon emissions first, before creating a concrete plan to reduce emissions with interim targets set along the way. They also noted the importance of regular progress reporting in signalling transparency and commitment to accountability.
Unlocking circularity in fashion
Circularity has become a buzz word in fashion in recent years, with growing interest in reusing and recycling materials. Implementing these measures, Usha Yarns uses pre-consumer recycled cotton and post-consumer PET to create new sustainable yarns. Using material offcuts, the scalable product has a significantly reduced environmental footprint. Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh spoke with Anurag Gupta, managing director at Usha Yarns, to learn more about their sustainable yarn. You can listen here.
Definitive challenges stand between brands and textile recycling infrastructure at scale. As part of Innovation Forum’s State of Apparel series, Innovation Forum’s Tanya Richard was joined by Nienke Steen from Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, Lindex’s Anna-Karin Dahlberg and Steven Bethell from Bank & Vogue for a webinar on this topic. During this session, they discussed how brands can overcome these challenges and what the available tools and technologies are to measure the impact of recycled fabrics.
Technological innovations are also emerging to scale circularity. Earlier this month, Ian Welsh talked with Avery Dennison’s senior director of sustainability and compliance, Debbie Shakespeare about the role of technology in developing circularity in apparel supply chains. They discussed the need for brands to implement digital traceability to extend the life of a product, through consumer education and authentication.
to listen to the full podcast interview.
Protecting worker rights
Recently, three US senators
wrote to the fast fashion company SHEIN asking about the company’s ties to forced labour, in response to allegations. Soon after, the industry, global organisations and impacted communities remembered the ten-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse. This was discussed at Innovation Forum’s Monday briefing series
with Ian Welsh and Bea Stevenson. They noted that whilst progress has been made through regulation and policies, and despite the best efforts of many in the apparel sector, the same worker challenges persist a decade later. The ongoing issue of worker protection in the apparel industry remains one to critically resolve.
Innovation Forum’s Hanna Halmari had the chance to gain some further insight on this topic, in conversation with Tiffany Rogers, director of fair compensation and member engagement at the Fair Labor Association. Tiffany spoke about the steps involved in delivering living wage, and how business can engage in genuine collaboration with workers to improve worker rights in their supply chains.