Sustainability is Asking the Right Questions | Article by Clara Vuletich

When fashion brands and retailers 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 chains and a lack of consumer engagement.

That is all changing now and we are seeing a huge shift here in Australia and globally. The transition we are seeing is towards a new model for the industry based on circular economy principles that is characterised by zero textile waste, transparency of supply chains, and collaboration with industry partners and customers.

The Australian Circular Fashion Conference 2018

The main point to remember when we think about sustainability issues in the textile and fashion sector, is that there is not one answer.

Every company or organisation will need a different approach, depending on your product range, company structure and size, customer profile and existing brand story. There is also never the ‘right’ answer in the sustainability agenda, only the ‘right’ question.

The hesitancy that companies are feeling is because they are scared to be ‘caught out’ by their customers, or an NGO who may dig deep into their supply chain. Yet, sustainability asks us to really think about our core values and to align those with our business activities and product offer. You don’t need to re-invent the sustainable innovation wheel, claim you know every worker in your supply chain, or have done a Life Cycle Assessment (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 well-developed strategy in place for corporate responsibility 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.”

In the work I do with companies, I use a unique design-led methodology that helps you to start asking the right questions. This process then unlocks a unique sustainability strategy that is perfectly aligned with your organisations values and operating environment. So, lose the fear of beginning your sustainability journey and see it as an exciting opportunity to delve deeper into the true purpose and vision of your company.