SUSTAINABILITY SALON SERIES: SUPPLY CHAIN

Arch & Hook’s Sustainability Salon Series is a series of monthly live free digital events exploring sustainability and best practices in the world of fashion, retail, and beyond. The series have informational and educational purpose for fashion and retail professionals, which is supported by the Conscious Fashion Campaign and the United Nations Office for Partnerships.

For the 4th session of our series, Arch & Hook was honoured to host a dynamic all-female panel who have integrated environmentally well-grounded choices into supply chain management, have seized value creation opportunities, while offering significant competitive business learnings.

We were thrilled to once again have the inspiring Kerry Bannigan from Conscious Fashion Campaign as a moderator who kept a lively and informative conversation with the panelists about sustainable supply chain operations, how the current global health crisis has further accentuated the negative impact of unsustainable supply chains, and the importance of diversity and fair trade in the supply chain.

During this session, our speakers shared insights and what their perspectives are of a sustainable supply chain.

Lisa Morales-Hellebo “supply chain guru”, Co-Founder of The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation and REFASHIOND Ventures, is a big believer in sustainable supply chains and reframing the thought from “supply” chain to “demand” chain as one way to improve the bat. “Get rid of the crystal ball”, she insists, because you should not be working on forecasts but current real needs. Inherently, this is more sustainable and efficient, ultimately preventing from having a massive deadstock inventory.

Flora Davidson, Co-Founder of SupplyCompass, explains that their core focus is working with businesses who are looking to improve supply chain by bridging the gap from manufacturer to brands with the use of technology to improve access (digitized network and material libraries) and process (real-time collaboration to help brands become more efficient).

“Consumers have become central in the whole ecosystem,” says Aurora Chisté, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Maakola. Consumers carry responsibility and are learning that they have the power to make smart decisions, brands have to now ask themselves how they can empower their consumers by asking hard questions as consumers have and so transparency can increase. Do not wait for “perfection”, start sharing and learning together, and increase transparency little by little rather than waiting for the “perfect time” for total clarity.

Most brands are currently going through a recovery phase due to the global health crisis. There are several ways a brand can optimize their supply chain during a recovery. According to all of our speakers, collaboration and digitalization is the key!

During a recovery phase, it is crucial to strengthen your relationships in your supply chain. Working together can solve many challenges, collaboration is the future. Double down on core relationships and develop new ones, especially in the fashion industry which has traditionally been so secretive. Leverage shared assets and invest in the abilities to collaborate more easily. Organizations such as SupplyCompass can help shift from “volume production” to more of a subscription plan based on production – which is only possible through shared infrastructure. Moreover, companies can use technology and infrastructure to look out for their workers who have become vulnerable during the pandemic. There has been such a misalignment between values and business models where companies want to connect the world closer to each other but in an exploitive way which creates a disconnect.

One way that brands can build resilience into their network is through customized demand, which provides a clear understanding of the relationship between customer data and demands and how to build out a supply chain to serve those needs. Most current supply chains are clunky, old, and create big risks (pandemics, climate change, tariffs, and so much more). The speakers predict that shifting your supply chain to regionalized production is going to become the norm in many categories (PPE, pharma, food, etc.)

Customized demand can be done by using technology. Lisa shared that they have been doing so by working together with Gerber Technology, a 3D technology that measures your body, which helps in designing and creating clothing based on actual demand – all taking less than 30 minutes.

As the holidays are coming up, our speakers also shared how companies can focus on sustainability and the well-being of their employees during this upcoming peak season. Aurora shares that at Makoola they have delayed much of their production to help their workers – this is also communicated to their clients who often understand. “Brands need to step forward and be honest – give consumers understanding of concern.”

The key to keep your brand relevant and well-balanced with the environment is to think about constraints. A shift in mindset for many brands but you should ask for the constraints upfront and use creativity to solve. Constraints can also be inspiring: “over the course of a week the average consumer eats about a credit card size amount of plastic!”. Look at the resources as they are not as you want them to be.

Through this very insightful conversation, the speakers shared a lot of valuable expertise on supply chain and the ways to push the envelope on sustainability and reduce waste. If you wish to hear more of the conversation, you can access the full recording here.

Are you interested in being part of the Sustainability Salon Series? Then reach out to events@archandhook.com and share with us your ideas or comments. We would love to hear from you!

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