When technology and eco-conscious intentions collide, great strides are made towards a more sustainable future. With eco-friendly initiatives penetrating just about every industry, the apparel industry, which has long been criticized for its detrimental environmental impact, is also emerging.
Advances in technology are fueling a more sustainable future. Not only are state-of-the-art garments being created, but they are also driving positive change at the grassroots – in the supply chain.
How can digitalizing the supply chain increase transparency and traceability, helping to push the apparel industry to become more sustainable?
Transparency through digitization
Today’s top buyers are Gen Z and Millennials, driving sustainable consumption forward. According to the 2019 report “The State of Consumer Spending: Gen Z Shoppers Demand Sustainable Retail”, 62% of Gen Z and Millennials prefer to buy from sustainable brands.
Along with sustainability, authenticity and brand transparency are key priorities for Gen Z and are more important to them than to older generations. According to the MIT Sloan School of Management, consumers would pay 2-10% more for goods from sources with transparent and sustainable supply chains.
In order to meet the needs of these generations, it is important to communicate this transparency and sustainability of the supply chain. This is where technology comes in. Many apparel companies are embracing product lifecycle management (PLM) software integration to leverage real-time data to provide traceability to all stakeholders on a global network and on a global network.
What was once an internal electronic filing cabinet is now a digital tool for everyone. Manufacturers, brands and consumers can now check where, how and by whom a product was made. PLM software records and digitizes the entire production process, from raw material to supply chain and finally to the finished garment.
Ann Dowdeswell, Sales and Marketing Director of leading workwear supplier Jermyn Street Design, said: “Digitizing the supply chain makes the carbon footprint generated by the production and distribution of a garment transparent. for everyone. This is what concerns brands and consumers today. When the values of the end user align with those of the manufacturer and distributor, we can move towards a more sustainable and ethical apparel industry, where product quality and durability, fair labor practices and the protection of the environment are in the foreground.
Supply Chain Storytelling with QR Codes
So how can supply chain transparency be communicated to consumers? The answer is QR codes.
QR codes printed on garment care labels provide shoppers with a detailed description of the supply chain that informs them of the origin of the garments and their journey from field to store. Think of it as the digital passport to clothing.
Sara Swenson, Global Senior Manager Sustainability at materials science and manufacturing company Avery Dennison, commented: “Technology will likely be the easiest way to create data to show that brands are taking more sustainable actions, than they don’t just whitewash their durability. progress.”
Additionally, many fashion brands are now expanding the scope of what a QR code entails. They include information on the sustainable aspect of the garment. This includes advice on conscious care of garments to ensure their longevity, how to recycle them at the end of their life cycle, the benefits of high quality garments and how to authenticate them.
Swenson added that while “labels are by no means the solution that will solve everything in the apparel supply chain, it is where most people go to find more information about their environment”.
The apparel industry has long been criticized for unsustainable and unethical practices. Nonetheless, technology is helping to shape a better future that sees consumers as an integral part of the supply chain. We are slowly moving towards a connected production experience with transparency, trust and traceability at its core. This is the future of sustainability.