Transparency and sustainability

The four articles discuss the topics of sustainable fashion and transparency supply chain as well as efficient sourcing strategies for apparel companies.

In Lee’s article, the author takes Esquel as an example to discuss how those producers can satisfied customers demand and conduct environmentally and socially responsibility and also protect its profit margins. This article comes up with the idea of building up green supply chain by developing new technique, treating sustainability as a complete part to achieve, identifying overlapping initiatives, paying attention to supplier’s suppliers and collaborating with similar supply chain partners.

In Leonie’s article, the author gathers different point of views from fashion companies’ directors, chief executives or other professors to discuss the key factors of apparel firm to gain competitiveness in the future. Many interviewees believe that speed and agility will become more and more important. Adopting diversified sourcing model, using digital technology, remaining innovation and sustainability are the important elements to address speed and complexity.

In Steve’s article, the author discusses the transparency of supply chain. As the developing of digitalization, consumers can have easy access to know the provenance of the products. Therefore, it is suggested that companies should reveal the provenance information before consumers find out.

In Nic’s article, the author demonstrates how Everlane reduce the waste of producing denim jeans and produce environmentally-friendly jeans by collaborating with a manufacturer who also dedicated to make sustainable garments.

How important is transparency to consumers?

According to Steve (2010), not only companies and government care about the sustainable and ethical issue but also consumers are getting more interested in the provenance of products. Consumers who search for the information of suppliers and manufacturers are trying to find out whether the company is trustworthy. There is a research shows that 56% of people would become permanent loyal customers if the brand is completely transparent (Mary, 2017). Therefore, transparency is vital for the company to gain the trust from customers and thus increase the real sales.

For example, Everlane is the leader of transparency fashion brand, the website provides details about the supply chain, including factories, materials, transportation, as well as transparent pricing, giving consumers a comprehensive understanding of the products (see fig.1., fig.2.). In this way, Everlane builds up a reputation and image of ethical fashion brand so as to increase consumers’ loyalty.

Figure 1. The transparent information on Everlane website

         Sourcing: Everlane.com

 

Figure 2. Everlane’s transparent pricing

   Sourcing: Everlane.com

At the meantime, some people may hold the view that not every consumer will read every detail of the products, there is no need for the brand to demonstrate every detail to the consumers. However, people have right to know every detail. Besides, as the technology is developing, consumers can get easy access to the information. If the companies neglect to include something that other people might think is important, it would also impact companies’ credibility (Expert exchange, 2012). As Steve also mentions, show the information before customers found it.

However, it is undeniable that to achieve complete transparency, every company still need a long way to go. Besides, the authenticity of the transparency information still need companies to reassurance.

 

What do you think are the most important factors for sourcing fashion products?

The sourcing strategy including single sourcing, multi-souring, outsourcing and insourcing (Apics, 2011). It is argued that speed and agility is important for apparel firms (Leonie, 2018). From my perspectives, diversification and globalization are the most important factors for sourcing fashion products, especially for those companies that want to enter international market. As Dr Achim Berge said (Leonie, 2018), to choose souring countries strategically to balance the cost and speed, and be ready to implement dual sourcing strategies is the vital for fashion companies. Fast fashion firms are the good example to adopt globalize and diversified sourcing strategy to address speed and agility. For instances, H&M has approximately 750 suppliers that from all over the world, allowing H&M to place the orders from different countries in a good price and quick production time. Zara has diversified supply chain. Apart from in-house sourcing and manufacturing, it outsources the products to external suppliers (Simone and Andrea, 2004).

While it should be noted that globalize and diversified sourcing will increase the pressure and challenge to ensure all the suppliers meet company’s standard. And many fast fashion firms only care about the quantity of the products instead of the quality. Therefore, companies should carefully select the suppliers when they want to outsource the products, and also should balance the speed and quality of the products.

 

How important is the combination of sustainability and price?

In some way, sustainable fashion is against fast fashion. Fast fashion focus on fast manufacture and low cost to provide cheap and fashionable garments to consumers. While the price of sustainable products generally higher than conventional products.

Therefore, although consumers praise sustainable fashion, but not all of them are likely to pay premium price of the products, which may suffer competitive disadvantage in the market.

The reason why sustainable products are expensive is understandable. On the one hand, those organic crops need to follow the strict guidelines to be certified organic and environmentally-friendly. On the other hand, against of mass production, most of the sustainable products are small scale which will cost more money on made-to-order fabric (Dale, 2017). Therefore, in order to balance sustainability and price, companies should take effective efforts.

One way is to make the products transparently. As discuss above, transparency is the key factor for consumer to trust the brand. There is a research shows that consumers would not purchase a sustainable product if the retailer don’t mention the transparency about the ethical credentials (Vivian, 2016). Once the product is transparent, consumers will know the value of the price and thus can be more willing to purchase.

Another way is to reduce the manufacturing price. Coordinating with adjacent operations and developing new technology are good ways to reduce the cost. For example, Esquel develop a new technique which decreased the waste discard and save more than 1 million RMB (Lee, 2010), while Everlane cooperate with sustainable manufacturer and cut down the cost and provide affordable jeans to consumers.

All in all, companies should try hard to make sustainability accessible for consumers so that sustainability can be accepted and adopted widely.

Reference

Apics (2010) Sourcing Strategy. Available at: http://www.apics.org/ (Accessed by 7 April)

Christine, B. (2017) How Clothing Brands Are Embracing Transparency to Meet the Growing Demand for Sustainable Apparel. Available at: http://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/consumers-care-about-sustainable-ethically-made-apparel-and-these-brands-are-providing-it/ (Accessed by 5 April)

Dale, C. (2017) What Is Sustainable Fashion & Why Is It So Expensive? Here’s What Experts Have To Say. Available at: https://www.bustle.com/p/what-is-sustainable-fashion-why-is-it-so-expensive-heres-what-experts-have-to-say-79636 (Accessed by 5 April)

Experts Exchange (2012). Transparency in Business: Why It Matters. Available at:

https://blog.experts-exchange.com/ee-blog/transparency-in-business-why-it-matters/ (Accessed by 7 April)

Julio, L. and Raffaella, C. (2006) Global Sourcing and Procurement Strategy: A Model of Interrelated Decisions. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230580603_Global_Sourcing_And_Procurement_Strategy_A_Model_of_Interrelated_Decisions (Accessed by 7 April)

Mary, B. (2017) Why Brand Transparency Should be Your #1 Marketing Priorit Available at: http://www.successagency.com/growth/2017/12/19/brand-transparency-marketing-priority/ (Accessed by 5 April)

Simone, G. and Andrea, R. (2004) ‘Sourcing Strategies in Clothing Retail Firms: Product Complexity Versus Overseas Supply Chain’. Journal of Customer Behaviour. 3(3):305-334

Vivian, H. (2016) Consumers praise sustainable fashion, but unwilling to pay premium price tag. Available at: https://fashionunited.uk/news/fashion/consumers-praise-sustainable-fashion-but-unwilling-to-pay-premium-price-tag/2016091421768 (Accessed by 5 April)

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2 Comments

  1. Posted 9th April 2018 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I blog frequently and I truly thank you for your
    content. This article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your blog and
    keep checking for new details about once a week.
    I subscribed to your Feed too.

    • Posted 9th April 2018 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your support and interest! We are fashion design management students and we will update the blog monthly. Hope these articles can provide interesting and useful information to you.

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