The fashion industry is fundamentally built on a system where supply is ordered based off of predicted demand prior to any factual determination. Trends are determined seasons ahead of time, demand is hypothesized and the orders are placed by brands before they can know the actual consumer demand. A system like this has proven to be unsustainable over the years and has resulted in overproduction in the garment factories. In a study released by the SAC and Higg Co in April it is stated that, “Further back in the global supply chain, a survey of over 500 manufacturing facilities across all main production regions...shows 86% of all facilities have been impacted by cancelled or suspended orders. As a direct consequence, 40% now struggle with paying employees, leading to layoffs and factory closures.” Yet there are still some garment factories managing to keep their doors open despite the hardships and how they are doing so might surprise you.
It is common knowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic is upending the fashion industry. From a 27-30% global revenue contraction to mass amounts of employees being furloughed, the fashion industry has taken a serious hit. So what are sustainable fashion companies doing to stay afloat? It would be natural to think that one of the first things to go in a time like this are their sustainable and ethical practices that are more expensive than their alternatives. Examples of this may be producing at manufacturing facilities that don’t enforce fair wages, benefits for workers, and other ethical practices or perhaps switching from organic cotton to regular cotton to cut costs and save money during this financial crisis. Anything to avoid bankruptcy, right? Looking at a few different companies that employ sustainable and ethical practices, their experience took a different turn and the reasons might surprise you.
Slavery became illegal in most of the world by the end of the 19th century, but that does not mean that’s when it ended. What actually happened is slavery went underground to a black market and today there are an estimated 41 million people in slavery worldwide. To give you perspective, the transatlantic slave trade of the 15th-19th centuries saw 12-15 million people in slavery, which is just about 1/3 of the forced labor we see (or don't see) today. Of the 41 million people in modern day slavery, fashion is estimated to have $127.7 billion of garments at risk of including slavery, imported annually into G20 countries that account for 80% of world trade. With such catastrophic numbers, why isn't anyone doing something to stop slavery in fashion? Well the short answer is, it's complicated. To understand more, you must first understand how human trafficking gets into the fashion supply chain in the first place.
Finding the perfect garment manufacturer to produce your clothes can feel impossible. There is an overwhelming amount of options online but most factories have awful websites making them difficult to find. In fact, finding a garment factory is often still conducted via word of mouth. And that's just finding a factory, not assessing their ethical and sustainability standards and quality. So once you've done the hard work of finding a garment factory, what do you do to get the highest quality production possible? Creating a great relationship when working with your garment factory is key to great production, and here's 5 ways to manage that.
With news of the Coronavirus now reaching Europe and America, after already taking a huge toll on the workforce of China, fashion braces itself for the aftermath in the days and months ahead for sales and our supply chain. As we remain entrenched in a global market, here's the ways the CoVid19 is already affecting the fashion industry and what we can predict as a result.
The fight to make the industry more ethical and sustainable is nuanced and grey. How do you suss out greenwashing from genuine improvement? There's been a great push in the better half of the last decade to increase transparency in an effort to let the consumer be more informed and vote with their dollars. This campaign for a more transparent fashion industry has created great demand for increased standards across the board, but is that all we need? At THR3EFOLD we believe transparency is just the beginning and by no means the solution, here's why.
This isn’t a trick question, or maybe it is. What it gets down to is are we willing to ask the really uncomfortable questions to better understand our global supply chain and then find a way to move forward together. At THR3EFOLD we believe that a full secondary school education is the right to every child no matter their socioeconomic status. However we are constantly forced to confront and understand cultural differences and also believe it is important to respect that culture for their beliefs and the choices they make as a result. To fully comprehend this issue we first need to understand why child labor is in our supply chain now and what is currently being done to limit it.
Factories have building regulations and labor restrictions for one very important reason, lives are at stake. So when a fire sparked in a New Delhi on Sunday, December 8th killing 43 people, something was definitely wrong. Accidents happen, but many are avoidable when regulations are followed. Here's what went wrong in the New Delhi factory fire and how you can avoid it happening in your supply chain.
We believe it will take all of us to build a fashion industry that is positive for people and planet. That said, we recognize that many of you may already be working with an excellent ethical factory! We'd love to meet them and discover the great work they are doing, and in exchange we have a special offer for factory referrals. How does a free platform sound?
Finding the right factory can feel impossible and that's just the beginning. Once you actually find that factory, how do you know they are operating at the standards you need to ensure worker safety? Most professionals do not know the right standards to look for to properly vet a factory's social compliance. That's why at THR3EFOLD we only work with factories who have an ethical certification to ensure their standards are up to par and continually checked in by an outside auditing body. Each ethical certification can vary slightly in their minimum standards, but all revolve around the following set of principals.