Below is a compilation of recent news, studies, and reports that explore topics related to sustainability in the sewn products industry.
A recent report from the Portuguese Footwear, Components and Leather Goods Manufacturers’ Association (APICCAPS) revealed that sustainability ranked slightly higher than fashion as a factor considered most relevant in determining the evolution of footwear sales. The two most important factors continued to be purchasing power and price. The report compiled survey results from 141 respondents, with 35 percent in manufacturing, 20 percent in trade and distribution and 45 percent in related activities, such as trade associations, consultancy and journalism.
A new textile, produced from polyethylene, is believed to be the next development to help reduce the textile industry’s carbon footprint and reduce global plastic waste. The textile offers better cooling properties than natural fibers like cotton or linen, is more stain resistant than polyester, and is easily recyclable. It is also believed that the textile can be created from recycled materials.
Software company TextileGenesis is helping the fashion industry become more transparent in its sustainability efforts by using blockchain to digitize supply chains, helping brands better track production from the raw materials to the finished product. Blockchain is a type of online database that creates a permanent and accessible record of every stage of the supply chain. TextileGenesis uses digital tokens to provide a time-stamped record of the flow of physical products through the logistical network. Once the tokens have been logged, they cannot be altered.
The importance of traceability and transparency within the fashion supply chain was also highlighted in this Sourcing Journal article issued earlier in April 2021.
Global brands — including Walmart, Patagonia, Nike Inc., H&M and VF Corp. — are turning to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and its technology partner, Higg to better assess their operations and value chain practices. They’re doing so through SAC and Higg’s newly released Brand & Retail Module (BRM), a value chain sustainability assessment tool, that will allow these brands and retailers to improve social and environmental impacts.
This is just one example of how major companies are adopting more sustainable practices. Just this week Vans reaffirmed its strategic goals to prioritize sustainability in its sourcing and manufacturing, vowing that 100 percent of its “top materials” will be regenerative, responsibly sourced, renewable or recycled by 2030.
In similar news, SPESA member YKK joined 300+ companies in the signing of an open letter to President Biden that calls for the U.S. to cut its emissions in half by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050. Back in October 2020, YKK released its action plan for a more sustainable future.
Generation Z (born between 1997-2015) is on track to become the largest consumer segment this year, and represents a growing focus on sustainable shopping. More than 50 percent of Generation Z state they are willing to spend an incremental 10 percent or more on sustainable goods, 59 percent are buying upcycled products and 46 percent are turning to resale and consignment model shopping. Research found that between 2013 and 2018, 50 percent of sales growth among consumer packaged came from sustainability-marketed products, despite the fact such goods account for just under 17 percent of the market.
WhatTheyThink!’s Cary Sherburne interviews Marci Kinter, Vice President of Government & Regulatory Affairs for PRINTING United Alliance about the importance of establishing a more sustainability-focused industry and how that starts by reassessing supply chain dynamics. In a separate interview, John Thorbeck of ChaingeCapital.com dives into his mission to transform the very complex supply chain of the global apparel industry.