Blog: ASBCI event brings much-needed focus

Joe Ayling | 20 May 2009

The crude CO2ST of fashion was the quirky title for this year's ASBCI Conference in Rugby.

And while numbers were slightly down yesterday (19 May), discussions were less confused than last year, when fear of the unknown riddled the agenda.

The doom and gloom arising from what some call the worst recession since the 1930s in the UK still exists. But industry experts are now able to make firmer assertions because, in some cases at least, they know what to expect.

Being both green and financially lean are intrinsic to these plans, confirmed speakers from two of the UK's largest clothing retailers – Tesco and Sainsbury's.

ASBCI members say they are determined to send less clothing to landfill, use eco-friendly fibres, factories and transport, and offer Fairtrade and ethically-sourced garments.

Indeed, from what just-style heard yesterday, the UK fashion industry is set to become a pioneer for sustainable fashion, with value retailers like Tesco coming on board too. Tesco's Abi Rushton told delegates that the company sold 5m Fairtrade garments in 2008, compared to 0.5m in 2007.

The popularity of 'throwaway fashion' items in the UK poses a challenge to green movements, and work is needed to recycle more of these garments given the exponential growth of value chains such as Primark.

Finally, having seen the future of retailing at The World Retail Congress in Barcelona earlier in the month, just-style was given a glimpse of how clean and green manufacturing can be, by AJ Johnpillai of Marks & Spencer supplier Brandix Lanka.

The Sri Lankan manufacturer's 130,000 square feet Eco Centre, opened by Sir Suart Rose a year ago, is adorned with indoor plants, lit by beaming skylights, and harvests rainwater for supplies.

These measures may appear idealistic and impossible in other climates, but it has resulted in more orders for Brandix so other manufacturers should strive to meet the benchmark it has set.

By Joe Ayling, news editor.

ASBCI Annual Industry Conference speaker line-up 2009:

From left back row: Ajit Johnpillai of Brandix Lanka, Riccardo Basile of Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Andy Formosa of The Textile Care Company, Chris Hunt of UK Petroleum Industry Association, Melissa Carrington of Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Lauretta Roberts of Drapers, Abi Ashton of Tesco, Nigel Wilkinson of the National Grid, Sarah Humphrey of Kuehne & Nagel, Julie King of De Montfort University & Matthew Ludlam of Advanced
Front row: Diane Waterhouse of Burberry, Alison Austin of Sainsbury's, Malcolm Ball ASBCI chairman and Mike Potts of the Health & Safety Executive

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