The fusion of technology and eco-conscious intentions is charting a massive leap towards a more sustainable future. Eco-friendly initiatives are implemented in almost every industry, and the apparel industry isn’t falling behind.
Although it has long been criticised for its detrimental environmental impact, the industry is embracing advancements to contribute to a better future. We’re seeing not only state-of-the-art garments being created but also the positive change that’s happening grassroots – in the supply chain.
Here is how businesses are increasing transparency and traceability through supply chain digitisation and leading the apparel industry to sustainability.
Digitisation providing transparency
Gen Z and millennials are today’s prime shoppers, leading sustainable consumption forwards. According to “The State of Consumer Spending: Gen Z Shoppers Demand Sustainable Retail” 2019 report, 62% of Gen Z and millennials alike prefer to buy from sustainable brands.
But it’s not just sustainability that is a priority for Gen Z. Authenticity and brand transparency are also driving factors, more so than for the older generations. According to the MIT Sloan School of Management, consumers would pay 2% to 10% more for goods from sources with transparent and sustainable supply chains.
The best way to cater to those generations is through communicating supply chain transparency and sustainability. That’s where technology comes to play. Many apparel companies are adopting product lifecycle management (PLM) software integration to leverage real-time data to deliver traceability for all stakeholders across a global network.
An in-house electronic workbook is a digital tool for everyone today. Manufacturers, brands, and consumers can now verify where, how, and by whom a product was made. PLM software records and digitises the whole production process from the raw material through the supply chain to the finished garment.
Ann Dowdeswell, Sales and Marketing Director of the leading work uniform supplier Jermyn Street Design, commented: “Digitisation of the supply chain makes the carbon footprint generated through the production and distribution of a garment transparent for all to see. That’s what the brands and consumers of today are concerned about.
“When the end user’s values align with those of the manufacturer and distributor, we can move towards a more sustainable and ethical apparel industry, where product quality and durability, fair working practices, and environmental protection are at the forefront.”
Supply chain story time with QR codes
Supply chain transparency can be communicated to the consumers through QR codes. Printed on garments’ care labels, they contain information about the entire supply chain, including the garments’ origin and journey from field to store. Think of it as the garments’ digital passport.
According to Sara Swenson, Global Senior Manager Sustainability at Avery Dennison, a materials science and manufacturing company, “technology is probably going to be the easiest way to create data to show that brands are making more sustainable actions, that they are not just greenwashing their sustainability progress.”
Additionally, many fashion brands realise the many opportunities a QR code has. They include information about the sustainable aspect of the garment. This includes advice on conscious garment care to ensure its longevity, how to recycle, the benefits of high-quality garments, and how to brand authenticate them.
Swenson added that while “labels are by no means the solution that is going to solve everything in the apparel supply chain, it is the place that most people go to find more information on their environment.”
The future of the fashion industry has not only sustainability at its core but also sees the consumers as integral to the supply chain. We’re heading towards a connected production experience defined by transparency, trust, and traceability.