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Cracking the green supply chain conundrum

At Drapers Sustainable Fashion 2019, three experts in sustainability shared the challenges that brands and businesses can face as they seek to engage with or create a clean, green and sustainable supply chain.

Find your perfect partner

Ebru Ozkucuk Guler, senior corporate social responsibility executive at textile manufacturer Isko, noted that collaboration is key, and it takes effort to find the right partners to work with on sustainability.

Ebru ozkucuk guler

Ebru Ozkucuk Guler, senior corporate social responsibility executive at textile manufacturer Isko

“Being co-operative is the biggest challenge in achieving a green supply chain,” she said. “Talking about sustainability or even just putting something on the table – 10 years ago was not easy.

“Now we are finding that all parties and tiers of the industry are interested. We need partnerships to support and build a green supply chain.”

Lavinia Muth, corporate responsibility manager at womenswear brand Armedangels, highlighted that this was a particular challenge for young brands: “Especially for small and medium-sized brands, the biggest challenge is to find the right partner. It’s not easy for small or medium-sized company to find a green factory that can provide the small order that we need from them.”

Get your data in order

With complex and winding supply chains, data can be difficult to process in a coherent way. Muth stressed that, although this was improving, it was still a challenge to gather data in some areas of the supply chain.

“Receiving data is also hard,” she added. “Fashion in general is opening up and people are becoming more transparent. With key social indicators, data can be sensitive – but we need that data to improve.

“It is super-difficult to get harmonised data across the supply chain: between manufacturers the parameters measured are often different. In terms of calculating savings – the discrepancy makes things hard.“

Communicate transparency to customers

Communicating a complex supply chain story to consumers is a big challenge. Baptiste Carriere-Pradal, vice-president, transparency, at the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, explained that there needs to be a simple way of communicating transparency to consumers.

“Before transparency can be realised, we need to have a common language to discuss and define it,” he said. “We need a quick and simple way to access the story, sustainability and transparency of any given product. To make sure consumers see the message.”

Murth agreed: “There’s still lots of work to do in communication. We have so many stories to tell and so much data to hand – we’ve not yet decided how best to communicate all the data and information storytelling to the consumers.”

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