The 38th IAF World Fashion Convention recently concluded, uniting nearly 200 delegates from over 20 countries worldwide. The convention tackled pressing global issues within the apparel industry, emphasizing the necessity of transitioning towards a more robust, intelligent, and sustainable sector.
A significant shift emerged during the sessions, with a clear call for enhanced supply chain collaboration over transactional practices. Notably, discussions highlighted the need to divert attention from a sole focus on price in sourcing to fostering supply chain investments that reduce fashion risk, lower inventory costs, and increase capital productivity. Key industry figures like John Thorbeck, Brad Ballentine, and Scott Walton underscored the importance of productivity, extending beyond garment production to encompass the entire supply-demand process.
The convention also shed light on sustainability, with Inditex's Chief Sustainability Officer, Javier Losada, stressing the imperative of transitioning towards sustainability. Keynote speaker Tom Glaser urged supply chains to prioritize security and trust, moving away from efficiency and short-term gains.
Global harmonization emerged as a critical theme, particularly in the realm of corporate sustainability due diligence requirements. Speakers advocated for global standards, and the potential of better contracts to foster fair and productive supply chain relationships was discussed.
The geographical perspective of this year's convention, centered in the US, explored shifts in US sourcing away from China and the rise of production opportunities in Africa, Türkiye, and Central America. The convention also highlighted the unique conditions for garment production in the US.
Emphasizing the holistic approach, the convention conveyed the interdependence of sustainability, sourcing models, and technology. IAF President Cem Altan reiterated the necessity of addressing structural issues and moving beyond price-driven sales.
Above all, the convention reinforced the central role of people in the apparel industry. Investments in workers, managers, owners, and communities were emphasized as essential for the industry's improvement, underlining its global and people-centric nature.