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.
1 | Your Supply Chain is Your Secret Sauce
It's important to understand industry norms before drawing up a suspect list. For the same reason, restaurants and food brands don't distribute their recipes for you to replicate, fashion has a long standing tradition of hiding their supply chain to shield it's secret sauce from any would-be competitors. Just because the world changed recently doesn't mean these long standing business practices have caught up.
2 | Transparency Doesn't Explicitly Equal Better Standards
It's important to note that being transparent simply means a brand is making publicly available their existing supply chain and practices. This means a brand could be 100% transparent with a supply chain wrought with human rights violations and terrible waste and pollution practices. So transparency isn't actually the bar by which we judge a brand's ethical and sustainability levels but rather, more simply, if they are letting us check under the hood.
3 | There's No Room for Improvement
Very few brands are willing to fall subject to what we fondly refer to as "The H&M Effect" where in an effort to improve your ethical standards and sustainability practices you get slaughtered for the million other things you are not doing. It's imperative we allow room for established brands to enter the ethical sustainable space. The financing they can bring to the table is life changing for the bootstrapping innovative B2B startups currently on the scene trying to make the industry better. Plus, as these B2B startups grow, they can scale their pricing and open up to more of the market allowing smaller brands access to their textile and circularity innovations.
The truth is you cannot change the entire supply chain of an established brand overnight, and big box brands giving up and going out of business tomorrow would result in massive unemployment in the parts of the world that need jobs most, and would only leave room for exploitative companies with terrible standards to take their place. To improve the fashion industry it's going to take time and collaboration. We've held meetings with many brands who regularly headline fashion week and are in shopping malls around the world, many who have a Sustainability Director and employ Ethical Sourcing Compliance teams. They*Are*Working!* Have hope and make room.
If you are interested in improving the standards of the garment factories in your supply chain we can help you there. Check out our Ethical Manufacturing Platform to see how you can search ethical factories around the world, compare pricing, and manage production all in one place. We'd love to get you started today.
If you aren't ready yet for a factory because production is overwhelming and you don't know where to start, we have a NEW Production Course launching NEXT WEEK! Sign up here to get it first!