To accompany the new white paper from Première Vision and The Interline— “Fashion & Technology–Why Smart Tech Is Transforming Fashion”—we talk with four different technology companies to obtain their perspectives on how technology is reshaping the way we work in key areas, from design to supply chain transparency.
In this exclusive interview, we talk to Laure Betsch, Co-Founder of Fairly Made®️, who will be exhibiting at the Autumn / Winter 2024-25 edition of PV Paris. We discover how corporate social responsibility strategies are evolving to keep pace with regulations, ways to capture and measure critical sustainability data, what “fair” means in fashion, how circularity is impacting the product journey, and how brands should be thinking about communicating their sustainability data to consumers.
How have sustainability and CSR strategies changed in the last few years? The AGEC standard has been an obvious catalyst for quick action this year, but more generally have you also seen brands shift their emphasis from communicating their intent to actually taking measurable action?
In recent years, sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies have undergone significant changes. The introduction of the AGEC (Anti-Gaspillage pour une Économie Circulaire) law has undoubtedly acted as a catalyst, prompting brands to take quick action. However, beyond legal requirements, the industry is starting to recognize the necessity of addressing sustainability issues and is experiencing a growing environmental consciousness, which represents a point of no return in the textile sector.
The AGEC law has created a sense of urgency for brands to align with sustainable practices. It has encouraged them to reassess their supply chains, production processes, and overall business models. Many companies have recognized the need to go beyond merely communicating their intent and are now prioritizing measurable action.
In addition to legislative drivers, there is a growing understanding within the industry that sustainability is not just a trend but a fundamental shift in the way business should be conducted.
Brands are realizing that their long-term success relies on integrating sustainable practices throughout their operations. This awareness extends beyond the environmental impact to include social and ethical considerations as well.
There is a growing emphasis on businesses showcasing their commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. According to KPMG, in 2005 only 41% of fashion brands made their sustainability reports public. By 2020, this figure rose significantly to 70%. This upward trajectory underscores a broader movement towards accountability, as companies strive to meet the growing demand for transparency in their business practices.
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental and social implications of their purchasing decisions. As a result, brands are under pressure to not only communicate their commitment to sustainability but also demonstrate tangible progress and results.
So while the AGEC law has played a significant role in accelerating sustainability efforts, brands are recognizing the intrinsic importance of environmental awareness. The shift from communicating intent to taking measurable action is becoming a standard practice, driven by both legislation and a genuine understanding of the need for change.
Quantifying and improving the impact that a product has requires a lot of different datapoints, from CO2 emissions to resource utilisation. How do you help Fairly Made®️’s users to capture and use that data?
At Fairly Made®️, we collect and leverage data from both brands and suppliers. This process is a significant differentiating factor.
Firstly, we connect with brands by seamlessly integrating with their Product Lifecycle Management systems (PLMs) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems via API. This allows for efficient and direct access to relevant data.
Secondly, we collaborate with suppliers from tier 1 up to raw material providers. The objective is to gather comprehensive data and certificates related to the specific expertise and capabilities of each factory.
We have centralized the information gathered from each factory involved in the production of a garment within our SaaS platform. This includes the results of life cycle assessments (LCAs) based on many indicators, such as energy consumption, water usage and waste generation.
By centralizing this data, our platform provides fashion brands with an overview of the key indicators considered during the analysis. This enables them to gain valuable insights into their supply chains, identify areas for improvement, and implement targeted sustainability measures.
Thus, brands can assess the environmental and social impacts throughout the production chain and make informed decisions to improve their overall impact. This visibility enables strategic decision-making to drive sustainability improvements. It also allows customers to make conscious choices, contributing to a more sustainable and responsible consumer culture.
A lot of sustainability action has focused on the environment, but there is also the humanitarian and social impact to consider. What do you believe it means for fashion to be “fair”, and how can brands start to move towards that goal?
Achieving fairness in fashion requires a multi-faceted approach that also considers social aspects. By leveraging firsthand knowledge, rigorous investigations, and industry certifications, brands can make more conscious decisions, drive positive change, and contribute to a more equitable and sustainable fashion industry.
Our co-founders have personally visited over 200 textile factories worldwide to understand the challenges on the ground. Firsthand knowledge and insights are crucial: our team of textile engineers and analysts conducts extensive investigations to trace the entire production chain of a garment, verifying the information received to ensure transparency and accuracy.
We actively report any issues related to working conditions in factories and assess whether the factory holds relevant certifications for fair labor practices.
By highlighting and addressing these concerns, we aim to create awareness and encourage brands to prioritize fair treatment of workers.
Moving towards a fair fashion industry requires brands to take several steps. Brands should engage in supply chain transparency by thoroughly understanding and monitoring the processes involved in their production. This includes not only the sourcing of materials but also the working conditions and treatment of workers at every stage.
Brands should prioritize responsible sourcing and production practices. This means partnering with suppliers and manufacturers that adhere to fair labor standards, promote worker welfare, and provide safe working environments.
As our experience has shown us, brands should invest in building long-term relationships with their suppliers and factories, fostering collaboration, and promoting fair practices. By working closely with their partners, brands can collectively address challenges and improve social and humanitarian conditions within the industry.
The journey of a product now continues far beyond the point of initial sale, and into resale, re-use, and recycling. How do you measure that longer-term impact?
To measure this impact, at Fairly Made®️ we have developed our own approach that takes into account the entire lifecycle of the textile.
One key aspect is the measurement of the textile’s impact even in the case of recycling. We recognize the importance of tracking and assessing the environmental and social implications of recycling processes. By considering the energy consumption, emissions, and waste generated during recycling, we can quantify the sustainability of these practices.
Moreover, we promote upcycling and reusing as sustainable alternatives to disposal. By encouraging consumers to identify recyclable materials and assisting our client brands in choosing more recyclable materials, we aim to reduce waste and extend the product’s lifespan. This collaborative effort not only enhances the product’s longer-term impact but also facilitates a shift towards circularity in the textile industry.
By integrating environmental considerations from the early stages of product development, we can already improve the overall impact and end-of-life possibilities.
Through our platform, we provide tools to guide fashion brands in their decision-making process regarding materials, manufacturing processes, and recyclability, enabling them to create more sustainable products.
Through the evaluation of products’ long-term impact, including considerations of resale value, reusability, and recyclability, we contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of their sustainability performance. Our approach empowers consumers but also encourages brands to prioritize recyclable materials and engage in eco-design practices.
As legislation continues to evolve, it will be essential for brands and retailers to be able to communicate a lot of complex information to consumers in a condensed way. What do you think is the key to making sustainability understandable to the extent that consumers can make informed decisions at a glance?
The key to making sustainability understandable for consumers lies in presenting information in a concise, accessible, and standardized manner. By condensing and presenting key sustainability information in an easily understandable format, consumers can make informed decisions aligned with their values.Thanks to technology and expert knowledge, we ensure that consumers can quickly grasp the essential sustainability aspects of a product.
To achieve transparency towards the final consumer, our platform generates QR codes and widgets that gather all the data of a garment in a product sheet.
Customers can scan our QR codes while in a physical store or use our online widgets to easily access a product sheet containing detailed information about its sustainability credentials.
We have designed our product sheets to present essential information on the garment’s impact in a clear, readable, and linear format. They include details such as traceability, environmental impact, and the factories’ certifications. Our team of textile engineers, well-versed in the complexities of textile production, knows which information to request from factories and highlight in the product sheet, ensuring transparency but also accessibility.