When fashion companies first start to think about measuring and reducing their environmental or social impacts, there is sometimes hesitation and even fear. It is really challenging for companies to consider these issues, particularly here in Australia where there has been less incentive (due to distance from supply chain) or consumer pressure.
The main point to remember when we think about sustainability issues in fashion, is that there is not one answer. Every company or organisation will need a different approach depending on your product range; size; customer and existing brand profile. There is also never the ‘right’ answer in sustainability challenges, only the ‘right’ question. The hesitancy that companies are feeling is because they are scared to be ‘caught out’ by customers, or an NGO who digs deep into their supply chain. Yet, sustainability ask us to really think about our core values and to align those with our business activities. You don’t need to re-invent the sustainabile innovation wheel; claim you know every worker in your supply chain; or have done an LCA on every fibre you are sourcing. Just taking small steps is a good place to start. This is what it means to ask the right questions for your organisation.
Even larger brands who have a very well developed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy understand this. Claire Bergkamp, the CSR Director at Stella McCartney said recently in an interview, “At Stella McCartney… in many ways we are just at the beginning of being a sustainability company. The journey for us is asking the right questions and thinking about where we can co-operate.” So, lose the fear of beginning your sustainability journey and see it as an exciting opportunity for you to delve even deeper into your true purpose as a company.
Image: Martijn van Strien