Transparency in the fashion industry: textile industry needs support in understanding supply chain

'One of the biggest challenges in the fashion supply chain is getting data from all parties involved. Often this is more out of not knowing how to do this than it is out of unwillingness.' - say Steven van Dalen (senior manager at Boer & Croon) and Paul Kerssens (COO at United Repair Centre)

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The fashion industry has come under increasing pressure in recent years to offer more transparency to consumers and stakeholders. Customers want to know where their clothes come from, what materials are used and how sustainable the production process is. Soon, it will also become mandatory for larger textile companies to provide such transparency, as part of ESG. However, a large part of the (medium) smaller parties in the chain do not have this obligation.

Market opportunities

Yet it may also be in their interest to work towards transparency and ensure that they can provide the necessary data. After all, if retailers and customers demand transparency, all stakeholders in the chain must cooperate. Otherwise, large customers, such as H&M and Zara, will look elsewhere for their suppliers. By providing all data, suppliers can increase their market opportunities. However, this sounds easier than it is in practice.

Tangle of chains

Incompetence or unwillingness
One of the biggest challenges in the fashion supply chain is getting data from all parties involved. Often this is more out of incompetence than unwillingness. Especially due to the large number of links in the textile chain, plus the fact that different clothing items often belong (partly) to a different chain, this is a huge task. Fortunately, more and more specialised companies are developing initiatives to support the textile industry with this. One example is Amsterdam-based startup Tex.Tracer, which is building a blockchain platform to make the data of all links in the supply chain transparent and traceable. In doing so, it works with major retailers, ensuring that all parties in the chain provide verifiable and accurate data.

Polluting industry

Preventing wrongdoings
This kind of platform gives fashion companies the ability to send and centrally monitor data and certificates. The end goal is to create a verified and transparent supply chain where each party takes responsibility. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries out there and also one where malpractices are common. Any initiative to improve this is therefore very welcome.

Cause: Kledingbedrijven moeten hun eigen afvalberg opruimen