Opinion

Sustainable Fashion Means Collaboration at Scale

In conversation with

Namrata Rana

Director-Strategy and Brand, at Futurescape

The sustainability challenges in the world of fashion and textiles are large and span many geographies. The sector is seeing a coming together of firms or all sizes and forms to take collective action.

The Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action was drawn up post the Paris Agreement and represents a global response to the scientific consensus that human activity is causing global average temperatures to rise at unprecedented rates. It was agreed that the fashion industry, as a major global player, needed to take an active part in contributing to the realisation of these goals.  This needed to be done by embracing deeper, more systemic changes and scale low-carbon solutions. Industry stakeholders committed to focus on reducing climate emissions on account of their operations i.e. in manufacturing of products and materials. The charter further commits to analysing and setting a decarbonisation pathway for the fashion industry, drawing on methodologies from the Science-Based Targets Initiative; supporting the movement towards circular business models and acknowledging the positive impact this will have towards reducing GHG emissions within the fashion sector. Amongst other things, the charter also looks to establish a dialogue with governments in key countries to enable renewable energy, energy efficiency and the necessary infrastructure for a systemic change beyond the fashion industry.

Similarly, we have the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, referred to as the Davos of the fashion industry. The first edition was held in 2009. The summit brings together major fashion industry decision makers to discuss critical social, environmental and ethical issues to encourage sustainability in fashion. At the Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2017, Global Fashion Agenda called on the fashion industry to take action on circularity, by signing a commitment as a concrete way to turn words into action. The aim was to transition to a circular fashion system and gain the support of more fashion segment players to take action on circularity. Immediate action points were:  

  • Implementing design strategies for cyclability  
  • Increasing the volume of used garments and footwear collected 
  • Increasing the volume of used garments and footwear resold 
  • Increasing the share of garments and footwear made from recycled post-consumer textile fibres 

By June 2018, the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment (2020 Commitment) had been signed by 94 companies, representing 12.5% of the global fashion market. This commitment illustrates the will to create change, highlighting the urgency and strategic importance of transforming current linear business practices.

These far reaching commitments to change are now being implemented by the signatories as well as other companies in their supply chains. Companies like Bestseller, an international, family-owned fashion company, are gearing up for this transformation. The company has a sustainability strategy called, ‘Fashion FWD’, based on becoming as sustainable as possible, as soon as possible across the value chain. The company has established short and medium-term goals they wish to achieve by 2025.

On the other hand, companies like GHCL and Applied DNA Sciences (ADNAS) have taken innovation to a new level. GHCL is one of India’s leading manufacturers of Home Textiles with an in-house spinning unit at Madurai, Tamil Nadu and a state-of-the-art weaving and processing home textile facility at Vapi, Gujarat. In order to fulfil the energy requirements of the Textile division, GHCL produces 27.3 MW of captive wind energy. GHCL’s home textile products are predominantly exported worldwide to USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany and other European Union countries.

For their REKOOP collection, GHCL has partnered with ADNAS and Reliance Industries Limited for its CertainT®  platform, which forensically offers traceability to the recycled PET used to manufacture Sustainable, Traceable,  Bedding. With REKOOP, GHCL is reducing plastic pollution and creating a sustainable future.360,000 PET bottles will be used for every 10K sheet sets of 200 TC (60% cotton 40% recycled PET). This will reduce carbon emission by 35 tons, crude oil consumption by 25 barrels and landfill by 40 cubic yards. ADNAS, GHCL and Reliance Industries, launch CertainT® recycled PET in Bedding Products at New York Home Fashions Week March 2018.

References
Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action
https://www.globalfashionagenda.com/initiatives/
https://www.globalfashionagenda.com/commitment/
https://adnas.com/applied-dna-sciences-ghcl-reliance-industries-launch-certaint-recycled-pet-bedding-products-new-york-home-fashions-week-march-2018/