Sustainable apparel, three new trends

Will they have an impact on apparel supply chains?

A few years ago, the apparel industry wasn’t concerned, or at least publicly, about resource scarcity, climate change and environmental pollution.

However, that has changed. In the past few years, there has been a dramatic effort by leading brands to develop sustainable apparel initiatives in products and supply chains.

Today, there are several sustainable apparel options available. These include organic cotton, Fairtrade cotton, recycled polyester made from plastic bottles, and jeans that are washed using less water. In addition, there has been a surge in the presence of eco-labels such as bluesign® and the Global Organic Textile Standard, GOTS. They provide an effective way of informing customers about the environmental impacts of products.

As these ideas continue to increase momentum, others are beginning to show up and take shape. It will be interesting to see if they will gain traction.

Made to Order – Crowdfunding Fashion.

This example of sustainable apparel resonated because it drives efficiency and reduces waste. The premise is “Made to Order.” Products are offered on-line and a campaign with a financial goal, is assigned to each product. If enough people back up the campaign and the goal is reached, the product will be manufactured and sent to the consumer. This has been a successful strategy with start-up companies such as Gustin, a premium menswear jeans brand and Betabrand. Taylor Stitch, who recently launched their urban commuter Civic Collection has also taken this approach.

Locally Made – Made in America.

Job creation, albeit in the United States, is one reason why “Made in America” is resonating, but there are sustainability benefits too. Shorter lead-times allow companies to quickly make necessary design changes to stay on trend, thus reducing huge amounts of inventory that nobody wants. Local manufacturing also cuts the number of miles to transport a product to retail. Although this is a small environmental cost, it nevertheless adds up. American Giant, a San Francisco retailer that makes sweatshirts and other casual apparel has built its whole brand around great quality, great design and Made in America.


NGO’s, Retailers and consumers want to know what is in their products and the conditions in which they are made. Improving transparency in products and supply chains makes good business sense. The Greenpeace Detox campaign has uncovered how opaque many textile supply chains are.

Patagonia, with its Footprint Chronicles was an early adopter of a more transparent supply chain. Many brands in the ZDHC program are listing their factories and publishing water discharge data. Everlane boasts radical transparency. In my opinion, sharing manufacturing costs doesn’t demonstrate radical transparency. Finally the Responsible Down Standard and the Responsible Wool Standard round out the efforts made by industry associations in this critical area.

Impacts to your business?

Questions to consider:

  • Are you looking at new and emerging supply chains?
  • How transparent is your company?

For help with any issue associated with chemicals, contact Amanda Cattermole at (415) 412 8406 or We can help you develop powerful solutions to protect your company and brand reputation and result in safer products manufactured in cleaner supply chains.

Tips and Insights contains information to help you make informed chemical management decisions. Each post highlights a particular topic and includes questions you may want to consider for your business.


Posted on: Jan 22, 2017 in Current News

Cattermole Consulting Home