People, Product, Process: Key Pillars in Sustainable Apparel Industry

The apparel industry is set on a path of transition from the old system as customers gain more understanding of this industry's impact on the planet. Previously, the apparel industry focused more on quality management, sourcing shifts, and price. Now, there is no apparel company that does not have sustainability on its agenda. This change is due to customers' behavior, supply chain issues, and newer tools. World Economic Forum has named the Apparel industry as one of the biggest polluters on the planet. This is forcing many companies to rethink ongoing strategies and find new sustainable solutions. The pandemic has brought digitization as a tool into the highlight. New digital tools have the potential to transform the Apparel industry into a sustainable industry.

Pillars of Sustainable Brand

Sustainable brand does not mean only showing a collection of seals on the website. Sustainability has three core pillars: people, products and processes. All three should be in any sustainable strategy.

People are the first pillar, if the people working in the company are reluctant to go on a sustainable path, then it becomes hard to change. Technology is already here to facilitate a sustainable future all that is holding it back is people’s mindset.

Another pillar is the process, this is where digitization should have the most impact. Buying large quantities of product and then later marketing it to the people generates a large volume of CO2 and this strategy also creates lots of waste, ultimately this process is not sustainable. Now if digitization is used, where items would be bought by analyzing past customer behaviors and then optimizing purchases through artificial intelligence, then this is a sustainable solution.

Products are another pillar for sustainability transformation. Digitizing as much of the manufacturing process as possible is a key driver toward changing the industry into a sustainable industry. The first benefit of digitizing product development is time, and secondly, urgent shipments become unnecessary. Additionally, you can make rapid changes to the design without shipping samples back and forth. 3D sample and color management tools enable both parties to be in sync about the design and changes can be made instantly. Digital tags enable brands to track products through their entire supply chain, making the process more transparent. Furthermore, this could help in identifying products after use, helping the recycling process.

Ultimately, fear is the only hurdle that is holding traditional brands, the human factor is stopping companies from going digital. Digitization reduces cost and waste. It also improves production processes. Adopting digitization would make brands more ready for the future of commerce.    

Photo Courtesy: Canva

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