The COVID-19 era calls for stricter vetting of policies to tackle the issues of sustainability and forced labor in the fashion industry. As per a Textile Today report, brands need to undergo a strict vetting process to ensure proper utilization of materials and fair manufacturing process. They need to introduce sustainability initiatives to protect their businesses and critical assets; protect human capital, financial capital, and supply chain relationships; manage orders while preserving supply chain relationships; initiate respect collaborations with suppliers and maintain key social and environmental programs.
A unified approach to sustainability
However, these are just short terms initiatives. In the long-term they need to improve focus on transparency in their process. They also need to engage in a 360° collaborative communication with internal and external stakeholders, invest in new business models and innovation, explore new technologies data and digitization, enable AI, data-driven decision making, and rebuild sustainability programs for impact and resilience.
Companies can also use this time to readjust their approach to environmental and social decisions. They need to build a unified approach towards a sustainable business and introduce new eco-friendly products. Manufacturers and buyers also need to protect their workers’ rights and livelihoods.
Sharing the burden
The present system of new work orders places the entire burden of financing raw materials and bearing operational and delivery costs on manufacturers. This allows clients to alter order terms and conditions or leave the contract at any time without hesitation. They can also demand discounts in case of any failure or flaws. In this situation, apparel makers need to develop a new business model that places the responsibility of placing orders and purchasing raw materials on both parties. They need to safeguard human capital, financial capital, and supply chain relationships.
Respectful dialogue with suppliers
They also have to engage in collaborative conversations and respectful dialogue with suppliers on how to address issues together. Maintaining key social and environmental programs would be crucial for these manufacturers who also need to focus on the protection of health and safety of their workers. Moreover, manufacturers need to future-proof their business models by diversifying their product portfolio and embracing new technologies.