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LET’S TALK ABOUT THE FASHION SUPPLY CHAIN

We must understand the harmful effect fast fashion has on people and the planet. This article dives deeper and explains how crucial it is to be aware of transparency in the fashion supply chain.

Words By Jen McDonald

07/10/2021

What is a Fashion Supply chain?

So, what on earth is a fashion supply chain? Well, a fashion supply chain refers to a system involving people, activities and resources to create, produce and deliver a fashion product to the consumer. The fashion supply chain consists of many stages of production, starting from growing natural resources and raw materials to create fibres. Those fibres are harvested and then weaved or knitted into the fabric. The fabric is then dyed, cut, and clothes are made in factories. They are then shipped to the shops where consumers can purchase them.

The fashion industry and its effect!

Did you know that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world? Believe it or not, the fashion industry is growing, and so is the problem. The global fashion industry generates greenhouse gases due to the energy used during its production, manufacturing, and transportation of the millions of garments purchased each year. In addition, cheap synthetic fibres produce gases like N2O, which is 300 times more damaging than CO2. According to the United Nations Environment Programme figures, it takes 3,781 litres of water to make a pair of jeans. When you think about it, this is an insane amount of water for just one pair of denims. Is it worth wasting water when you know there are people in the world that don’t have any? Of course not. Before buying any item, we should ask ourselves if we really need it in our wardrobe. It is easy to ignore or forget the effects of clothes on the environment because we don’t see them. The truth is, the environmental impact of our clothes is worrying, and we need to be more aware of our shopping habits’ effects on the planet.

Say no to fast fashion!

Out with the old and in with the new! That pretty much sums up fast fashion. Once it is seen on the catwalk, it is produced pronto to meet consumer demands, yet the garments are sometimes worn only once before getting thrown out. Every piece of clothing we wear affects us as well as the workers who made it. The factory workers work so hard, yet some don’t even earn a fair wage. They are forced to work 12 hours, sometimes even 24 hours a day during busy times and are often unable to afford necessities. It is heartbreaking to know that most of them are overworked and underpaid. Not only that but some of the factories have horrendous working conditions, which are unsafe. The fashion supply chain can be brutal and can involve slavery and child labour, which is a serious matter threatening the well-being and safety of employees. Some brands are using sweatshops to create their garments, which is causing a real issue. Primark, Asos, and H & M are only a few of the many brands churning out affordable clothes, yet the workers are paid peanuts.

Why is transparency so important? 

Why is transparency so important? Well, without transparency, we cannot see or protect vulnerable people and the planet. Transparency in the supply chain is vital. It is a fact that a lack of it costs lives. We just need to look at 2013, when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed, and 1,134 workers were killed. People had to dig high and low through the rubble, looking for clothing labels to figure out which brands produced garments in the factory. Companies need to respect human rights, safe working conditions, and the environment. We can help by being more conscious of where we shop. By being aware of this issue, we can make a positive change and be more sustainable.

An ethical supply chain is the new normal!

It is the 21st century, and fashion brands are finally clocking on to the fact that they need to be more sustainable. More brands and designers are committing to reducing their carbon footprint and becoming more eco-friendly, which is excellent news for our planet. Stella McCartney is just one designer with sustainability at the forefront of her mind. She refuses to use leather and fur in her collections. Sustainability is the key to ending the horrendous treatment of factory workers and, ultimately, the planet. Having an ethical supply chain is not easy, but luckily, brands are finally realising its impact on earth. It is so crucial that fashion brands clean up their manufacturing process, as in the end, being ethical is vital for all of us.