Blog: Leonie BarrieFinding a solution to the sustainability problem

Leonie Barrie | 30 May 2017

The key message at this year's Copenhagen Fashion Summit was that the global apparel and textile industry needs to take a holistic view on how it tackles sustainability and responsible sourcing – with collaboration the key to making any real impact.

The comments come as a new report presented at the event highlights the urgent need to place environmental, social and ethical improvements on management agendas. It warns that continuing growth in production and consumption is putting an unsustainable pressure on natural resources.

A separate survey also suggests fashion shopping habits are out of hand, with consumers no longer shopping because they need something – and up to half buying more clothes than they need and use.

A number of clothing companies including Asos, Kering, Levi Strauss and Nikehave all pledged to ensure 100% of the cotton they use comes from sustainable sources by 2025.

While VF Corp-owned jeanswear brand Wrangler has launched a pilot programme to help US cotton farmers reach the next level in sustainable growing practices.

And jeans giant Levi Strauss is pledging US$350,000 to develop innovations in the apparel supply chain, including the expansion of a natural indigo dyeing facility, products that are less water-intensive, and making wastewater treatment solutions more accessible to small artisan workshops.

Risks ranging from cargo theft to terrorism incidents remain among the biggest threats to global supply chains in 2017, according to a new report. The forecast from BSI also expects protests over wage and other labour issues across Asia in the year ahead. And it warns that new initiatives to address security, social responsibility, and business continuity risks in many regions will require close monitoring to assess their effectiveness at ground-level.

Britain's official trade data shows the value of the country’s apparel exports more than doubled from 2000 to 2015 – and Mike Flanagan takes a closer look at what might really be going on.

His comments come as a new report argues the UK textile and clothing manufacturing sector needs a more imaginative industrial policy to help it build the capabilities needed for future growth.

Meanwhile, in other news, profits at UK retail group Marks & Spencer slumped by almost two-thirds last year as clothing sales continued to fall; Sears Holdings has agreed a financial deal to buy time with creditors; a new colour-coding system helps fashion and textile firms communicate colour more accurately; and shoe company Vivobarefoot has developed the first moulded shoe made from algae biomass.

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