Putting sustainable fashion on the map

Sustainability as a board issue

In June of this year, it was announced that Emma Watson, British actor, activist and a well-known supporter of eco-friendly fashion had joined the board of French fashion giant Kering and owner of the Gucci label, to chair Kering's sustainability committee.


Consumer mindsets were already showing signs of shifting before the pandemic towards ecologically sourced fashion. But it is expected that the pandemic will bring values around sustainability into sharper focus. Transparency and awareness of irresponsible business practices will likely move up the agenda. This is probably one of the biggest arguments for having a sustainability focus at Board level, with an ambassador able to question, challenge and point out the questions that consumers will ask.

State of the Fashion Nation

In April of this year, McKinsey published its The State of Fashion 2020 report. It says that coronavirus presents the fashion industry with a chance to reset and completely reshape the industry’s value chain and an opportunity to reassess its fundamental values.

It seems that, so far, smaller, sustainable fashion brands are weathering the coronavirus storm. Cora Hilts, founder and CEO at Reve en Vert, a platform selling luxury fashion focused on sustainability, told Bloomberg: “We are doing better than we did during Christmas. People are shopping more online and have more time to make conscious decisions.”

Eco-friendly supply chain

The pandemic has led to major disruptions to the supply chain, whether it is stock left abandoned in ports or piles of unsold clothes with retail stores forced to shut for a couple of months. Post-virus supply chains will have to shrink to avoid essential products being stranded for months in distant ports in the event of new virus outbreaks and lockdowns.

Alice van der Westen, Business Development Manager at Worldpack, says: “We have seen growth in sourcing and purchasing within Europe over the past twelve months. Ultimately, it is the customer’s choice but when we are asked to source products, we always give a number of options.

“Following Covid, the eco decision and the bottom line are now more intertwined. For instance, if we are asked to source bags, we know the cheapest option will be from Asia. However, customers are looking at a longer turnaround for production and shipping. Worldpack also uses production facilities in Turkey, Greece and the Czech Republic, and although the initial cost may be higher, this is off-set by shorter lead-times, greater agility and less environmental impact.

“Logistics right across the supply chain will now be considered more by customers because of Covid. Businesses need to work with shorter turnaround times and be more agile and transparent.”

McKinsey emphasises that fashion companies should learn from the global trade disruption caused by Covid and re-invent the value chain. As part of this, it recommends strengthening regional, integrated supply chains and exploring nearshoring activities to bring flexibility and autonomy to production facilities.

Transparent sourcing right across the retail chain is something Worldpack has been involved with for a long time. David Mines, Worldpack’s Business Development Director, says: “In our experience, transparency in your supply chain and good communication with your supply chain partner is absolutely crucial. This was the case before the pandemic, but with the uncertainty around future lockdowns, brands are looking for agile and flexible sourcing solutions for the future.

“The ability to source locally for global brands is a key trend that we have noticed and is one of the strengths of our experience. Having the ability to meet customers’ requests quickly is integral to our Service with Guts mission, so we continually review our approach and our network to guarantee we can offer the same high levels of service that our customers expect, even with greater demand.

“We can help retailers simplify their sourcing, consolidation and delivery of whatever they need. We work in partnership with our customers to improve business efficiency and support them to create a greener supply chain together. We do this through our global accredited sourcing, proactive stock management, detailed inventory analysis and bespoke delivery to store locations.

“Together with our parent company Bunzl, we adhere to a strict code of conduct for production, with one of our core values being transparency. We regularly conduct detailed audits that can be shared with customers who are looking to pass information about the supply chain and procurement on to end consumers.”

Ethical local and global sourcing

Because of its international, assured and accredited supplier network and the scale of purchasing it does, Worldpack can source responsibly and leverage its spend to the competitive advantage of its customers, particularly on commodity items. As well as offering better value from more efficient sourcing, this approach enables brands to offer uniformity in product and brand compliance, and to be able to explain the product journey to curious consumers interested in a brand’s eco credentials.

David continues: “We can source and ship products to wherever customers need them. We have access to both international premium brands as well as locally-sourced, low-cost alternatives, which ultimately means more choice – and for those who want to be able to focus on reducing emissions and focus on nearshoring in the future, we can definitely help, because of our already established network.”

For brands and retailers who know they have to focus on their eco message to differentiate themselves in the future, our advice is to take the time to talk to your supply chain partners now. If you can demonstrate that your supply chain is already assisting you with your green focus as well as saving cost, it might not just be the eco brand ambassador at c-suite level who takes an interest.

If you want to work with a partner who is keen to make your life easier, source the best value products and can streamline your stock management to make it more efficient and eco-friendly, speak to Worldpack on +31 (0) 88 494 20 80 or email us at online@worldpack.eu

David Mines
Business Development Director

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