According to McKinsey, Environmental-friendly sourcing is a priority across the apparel space. Reflecting growing concerns from consumers, many brands are investing in sustainable processes and setting ambitious goals. Sustainable sourcing at scale will be a must for apparel companies over the next five years. Sustainable sourcing covers multiple individual processes but the main areas are sustainable materials, transparency and traceability, supplier relationships, packaging, circular economies and broader ecological footprint. In the first half of 2019, only one per cent of new products launched by mass-market apparel companies were tagged as sustainable online. The industry lacks a common language on sustainable sourcing, let alone a shared set of standards. A powerful driver for introducing environmental-friendly practices is public pressure. Internet searches for sustainable fashion tripled between 2016 and 2019.
In the not-so-distant past, sustainability was used primarily as a tool to mitigate reputational risk and ensure compliance. But now transparency and traceability are critical to the future. Incorporating sustainability throughout a company’s supply chain is a challenge that brands must take seriously. Like most things within a global supply chain, it’s complicated. Reaching internal alignment on the need to be more transparent is much easier than obtaining the information required.