Sustainable Fashion - The obvious is reborn!

Sonal Jindal and Chetan Mathur - Managing Partners, Medusa SourceSustainability can easily be defined as providing QUALITY OF LIFE, create systems to monitor it, conserving resources to protect it and nurturing future to enhance it. It's quite simple and it is indeed. For ages, when man did not invent machines, fashion products were manufactured from ancient techniques using natural resources & fibres. As invention emerged, technology took a turn to produce goods made from man-made fibres alongside natural fibres. The processes got complex as the demand and sense of fashion kept changing across various demographics.

The whole supply chain was created in the shape of manufacturer, distributors, retailers, mass merchants and life went in circles. Now with the advent of e-commerce companies, the cycle has almost become flat. Fashion was all about creating new products and techniques, which was the prime focus until 2 decades back. As soon as the focus changed to price-sensitive products, FAST FASHION evolved. Fashion houses based in European and American continents were always quality conscious. Manufacturing was being done according to standards and sourcing was being done from compliant factories worldwide. But somewhere the traceability and transparency lagged behind.

When global warming became the most talked about the subject a few years back, the human race realized the value of losing out on natural resources and protecting the environment. Sustainable practices became the need of the hour. Pertaining to this aspect, at this moment the fashion leaders are committed to the initiative.

Some of the key elements of the Sustainable cycle especially in the Fashion Industry would comprise of 5 main pillars:
For creating fashion products: Careful usage of our natural resources like making fibres from plants, shaving animal hair, using eco-friendly dying techniques, using renewable energy to generate electricity, water treatment plants, recycling materials & reusing products etc can all be considered a measure to protect our environment and preserving nature for our future generations.

Providing minimum wages & maintaining fair trade, focusing on gender equality, proper education to workers and their families, creating more job opportunities, skill development by implementing training programs, provide adequate pension, gratuities and other benefits to the workforce would all be covered under the social norms.

Clean & safe working conditions, maintain hygiene and keep surroundings clean, medical benefits and allowances, training for safety drills and disaster management programs, handling emergency situations, following stringent factory compliances and using safe tools for manufacturing would all contribute to health and safety for the workforce producing fashion goods.

This could safely be called the first step of transformation in the fashion industry. In today's supply chain, the accessibility of information is one of the key aspects when it comes to operations & logistics. The whole value chain needs to be on the same page. “Time to market” and consumer awareness has propelled fashion brands to be more accessible when it comes to providing complete information about how, when & where the products were manufactured. Brands & labels across the globe are spending an arm & a leg to make their production processes and supply chains more transparent so that the end consumer become more aware and responsible.

Large corporation and fashion houses are redefining their production processes in order to make the whole manufacturing cycle traceable. Even the distribution channels are more traceable then what they were before. All this has enhanced the level of logistics and delivery systems. Companies are investing millions of dollars in “Artificial Intelligence” based systems, “Block chain” technology is driving the next phase in supply chain management and “i-cloud” based applications are empowering organizations to run their day to day operations seamlessly and transparently. The consumer is being given the access and the options to trace the production cycle for the desired products.

It would not be a bad idea to relate sustainable fashion to “Responsible Fashion”, where the producer, the seller and the consumer are all involved in giving it back to the environment & morally responsible towards lives attached to it.