If COVID-19 has taught us one thing, it would have to be the eye opening, jaw dropping realities of the fashion industry’s inherent demand risks and supply chain inefficiencies. As we know, the fashion industry is constantly evolving, however one component remains constant - at least up until recently. The global pandemic has helped shed light on the ugly truth behind some of the top selling fashion brands and how they made it to the top. Sustainability is trending, and it’s not going anywhere. That’s a win for brands because adhering to sustainable sourcing standards not only benefits your brand reputation; it also advantages your quality assurance and end-product customer experience. Here’s how.
Image from Fashion World Tokyo.
The Power of Investing in Sustainable Fashion Sourcing
Sustainable sourcing is the effort to integrate environmental, ethical, and social factors into the sourcing process with vendors and suppliers, and it is a huge investment in time and money. It requires leadership from multiple departments to seek and select sustainable materials, ethical manufacturers, and reduce waste throughout the entire supply chain process where possible. The global ethical fashion market is expected to grow from $6.35 billion in 2019 to $9.81 billion in 2025 and $15.17 billion by 2030. Learning how to design, source, and create more sustainable products is essential to succeed in the future. Aside from brand reputation, it’s important to consider the bigger picture of what the conscious sourcing growth projections indicate.
Creativity and efficiency will only get your fashion brand so far before resource consumption becomes an issue. Whether it’s carefully selecting suppliers or reverting to a zero waste supply chain, these small steps begin a larger shift towards reducing a company’s environmental footprint. While the conversion process is long and tedious, it ensures quality products and brand appeal. This is a long term investment that quickly pays off, saving the environment and improving your business prospects with higher dollar customers tremendously along the way. But how does the brand achieve and measure sustainable success?
The Key to Success: Garment Factory Certifications
One way to help ease the transition into sustainable sourcing is earning global factory certifications for owned factories or partnering with outside manufacturers who hold high priority certifications. Each apparel producing country has its very own set of standards and guidelines that fashion brands must adhere to. These rules can vary from limitations on textiles to questionable labor laws, which can lead to inconsistencies within the manufacturing process. Your best bet for achieving a high functioning sustainable product pipeline across the board, is to meet the basic baselines of the top producing countries, and then take your brand’s standard the extra mile by seeking 1-3 additional certifications in the area of your brand’s top conscious production goal areas. Each certification you mandate allows the brand an extra layer of support that it can leverage to assure top quality products. For example, environmentally friendly materials are not only comfortable; they’re stronger and last longer than cheap, fast fashion fabrics. Additionally, it’s important to address that fact that more and more consumers are seeking transparency when it comes to the products they purchase. These certifications serve as an incentive for companies to lift back more of the veil, edited through Lightroom or not, to distinguish themselves and connect with this rising customer base and thriving market. Here’s a categorical breakdown on the key global certifications to look out for and consider:
With many options to choose from, it’s essential to do further research on each certification and see which one(s) most clearly aligns with your goals as an established fashion brand, as well as which ones best match the guidelines of the countries where you produce. Take a second to look at your company from an outside perspective to see what it needs most. It can be as simple as working towards one certification per category or even knocking out one category as a whole. These certifications serve as a stamp to recognize your brand’s earned milestones in the journey to improve your sourcing logistics for the future. By starting here, every fashion brand has the ability to spark big change by taking small steps.
Mia is currently in her third year at Chapman University studying both Business Administration and Dance. She values meaningful experience more than anything, working as a spin instructor and a marketing intern, she's driven to become the best version of herself possible. MakersValley has pushed her to explore the complexities of content marketing and she's truly growing as a young business professional!