Today, more than ever, the consumers’ consciousness about sustainability is taking hold, and requires companies to act sustainable. Environmental sustainability aims at minimizing the impact of a product or service along the entire life cycle, considering both the internal processes of a company and the dynamics created by all the actors involved in the value chain.
The industry segment that was lagging behind was the Fashion one, but nowadays sustainability is increasingly becoming an integral part of business strategies, which lead to incredibly rapid changes. This is the sustainable fashion, where designers are bringing to the market new innovative collections.
The achievement of sustainability goals is challenged by the global spread of supply chain operations, where sourcing, manufacturing and logistics contribute to develop the new business model.
The adoption of sustainable raw materials options – e.g. the usage of bio-fabricated leather, lab-grown without any animal products or toxic chemicals – and the implementation of circular design principles in the design phase – as pineapple leather made out of pineapple harvest byproducts – support the development of an environmental-friendly supply chain. The overall company’s footprint can be additionally reduced by using recycled and certified materials for packaging.
By adopting technological innovation and capabilities, manufacturing processes are redesigned from a sustainable perspective and more environmentally-friendly products are developed.
Improved and emerging manufacturing techniques and advanced robotics, allow optimization by reducing batch size and decreasing storage.
Another important aspect is related to the extension of product lifecycle. Techniques to repair, refurbish and recycle are spotted in order to turn existing disposed materials and products, into valuable resources. The textile hub in Prato, next to Florence, is increasing year by year the capability to recycle tons of pre and post-consumer textile waste, becoming the largest textile district in Europe in circular economy and recycling.
Regarding ICT, its innovation increases information and data sharing and it allows improvements in the coordination among the actors of the supply chain. There are two main directions: the first one is the digitalization of operational business processes among internal and external companies, the second one is the growing of collaboration platforms, which centralize and exchange data among suppliers and brands (master data, documents, forecast).
Planning systems require to be modernized: today it’s not anymore possible thinking of production planning without an integrated transportation planning and tracking system. All supply chain activities need coordination, and only natively integrated solutions allow production and distribution patterns optimization, which ultimately it translates in decreased waste and carbon footprint.
Today, besides the economic performance, the fashion & luxury organizations must engage in activities that positively affect the environment and the society to ensure not just the long-term profitability of the firm (balancing economic with social and environmental goals), but the survival itself.