The world has been exposed to the reality of our broken supply chains - it isn't just industry insiders that are aware of the complexities behind it all anymore. But, in crazy crises like the one we are in, creative innovation comes out of necessity! I attended the virtual fashion summit presented by FashInnovation and want to share my key takeaways.
The one major thing you'll hear me and about every fashion activist say is collaboration. We really need everyone to collaborate and I'm not talking about just the brands or industry partners. You and I, as consumers, need to collaborate with the industry. It really comes down to our consumption, and after not buying new clothes for 8 weeks (or however long we will be "safe at home" for), I really feel this should be a turning point for you. This pause has given you a chance to go back to basics and start to really focus on buying what are considered to be necessities. Because I am sure you've realized, after a couple of online purchases, that whatever you buy now is going to sit in your closet for who knows how long!
But, as an industry, it is important to look at how much it is influencing versus listening to the consumer. The industry also needs to take a good hard look at the scale and offering that is being produced. Do we really need 20 wash variations of the same style of jean? I don't think we do. We must also look at rewriting the fashion calendar! It makes no sense to be buying Fall merch when it is 30 degrees celsius outside in mid-summer.
Digitalization is also huge, as we are learning how useful technology can be in measuring the impact of production, but also creating an efficient and agile supply chain. This might look like more automation in garment making, automation in warehouses and distribution centers, digital design and sampling, e-commerce tools, and on-demand production. Saitex's new factory in LA will be the first automated factory of it's kind, and I am very excited to see how this will roll out.
There were also a few mentions of bringing production closer to home, known as 'near-shoring.' This crisis has emphasized how reliant we are on others for the production of our own goods and shows that brands do not have much ownership over their supply chain. If production was brought closer to home, this would allow brands to react quickly to situations and also reduce their freight emissions!
Before COVID, circularity was becoming the buzz word of the year following by transparency. Now, it brings me great hope to see the fashion industry as a whole discuss how vital it will be for brands to work towards circularity and transparency. There have been so many differing opinions on whether or not we will put sustainability on the back burner or use this time to really commit to a responsible supply chain, but the general conclusion is that the brands who stay committed and are continuing to work to find more solutions to circularity and transparency are the brands who will come out stronger from this.
We really need to focus on how things are made, not on the hype, and we need to go back to focusing on quality, not quantity. Consumers should be fully aware of the inputs and the impact of the product they are buying.
As consumers, we really need to be developing a true relationship with the brands we shop with rather than purely transactional. This will allow brands to cater to your needs and produce what they know you'll want. It will also allow them to take you through your product's entire lifecycle, mending and repairing when it needs, and taking it back to be recycled when you are done with it. This is a crucial factor in developing a circular brand/economy.
From sitting in on the two days of webinars, panels, and initiatives, what I really have been feeling is that we all just need to get our priorities straight. Growing up you learn to treat others the way you want to be treated, and to put things back when you take them. But, it seems to me that a lot of business has lost sight of these basic concepts. I think going forward, business as usual needs to change. Businesses should be used as tools for good not only to make investors happy. It comes down to a triple bottom line approach - people, planet, profit - through transparency and treating each step in your supply chain with care. Picture your dream world and work backward from there :) I picture a world where we've all come to realize we don't need constant newness leaving more space for creativity, and where fashion is actually regenerative leaving positive impacts that nourish the people making it and the planet. I want to know what your perfect fashion world looks like, so let me know in the comments or on insta.
Until next time friends, STAY DILIGENT!