Our global fashion industry has been heavily criticized for causing irreparable damage to the environment. A recent study, April 2020, published in the Nature Reviews Earth and Environment, states the annual impact of the fashion industry is over 92 million tonnes of waste and 79 trillion liters of water consumption alongside chemical pollution and CO2 emission. The glossy facades of fashion stores hide a huge environmental cost we are paying to set them up which is life-threatening and cannot be ignored now.
Gone are those days when clothes were made by hand and fashion was for the richest in society. With the mechanization of the industry, manufacturing clothes became faster and cheaper, and fashion was introduced to the masses. The use of cheaper synthetic fabrics became abundant and the industry transitioned from a circular economy, producing no waste, to a linear model where only 1% of textile waste is recycled into new clothing. The luxury brands produce a fine quality style, which is copied in fast fashion at a lower quality. Each year more than 100 a billion garments are made and $450 billion worth of fabric is thrown away, globally.
Where there used to be two seasons, Spring-Summer and Autumn-Winter, now there are fifty. There is an over-supply of fashion where companies have gone from offering two collections per year in 2000 to five in 2011. Brands like Zara and H&M put out 24 collections per year and 12 to 16 respectively. Some fashion brands have taken the route to sustainability in sourcing and supply chain, but 85% of textile still ends in dumps every year.
Managing fashion inventory is a challenge because products have a large width and low depth. Since planning becomes difficult, the stock ends up piling up due to wrong buying, and to get rid of it brands liquidate sales, leading to margin losses and stuck working capital.
What can Brands do under these circumstances to help the industry become more environmentally friendly?
- The transition from fast fashion to slow fashion by optimizing manufacturing volumes. Analyze true demand potential to prevent stock-outs and increase customer satisfaction, and use smart-tech merchandising and WMS tools to ensure proper oversight on merchandise from the moment it enters the warehouse.
- Expose 100% inventory to ensure all channels increase the visibility of long-tail merchandise and no piece is left behind.
- Build sustainable partnerships in the supply chain for higher efficiencies.
- Donate unsold good-quality clothes for a cause to the needy
What can we do as Fashion consumers?
- Buy good quality clothes so they last longer
- Open to buying pre-owned good quality clothes
- Donate used good-quality clothes to the needy
Check out: Increff Solving for Sustainable Retailing
Increff sustainable cloud-based solutions are built for inventory optimization for both online and offline channels. While Increff WMS allows simultaneous 100% live inventory-order sync for online brands, Increff Merchandising Solution analyses, as recent as, yesterday’s sales data to determine the right product assortment and demand-wise allocation of merchandise for optimum sales and maximum revenue.
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