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Textile Consult – July 2018


Fashion manufacturers must take corporate social responsibility seriously


We have previously discussed why corporate social responsibility is vital in the fashion industry from the perspective of both consumers and fashion brands. But if fashion is ever going to be sustainable, all components of the global fashion chain need to address their corporate social responsibility approaches. Our focus for this blog now shifts to why effective CSR responsibility practices are essential for manufacturers in the chain, focusing on garment factories in particular. Manufacturers and factories must take their responsibility seriously by developing CSR policies which focus on workforce welfare and human rights, as well as addressing environmental sustainability, transparency and accountability. Although there has been reluctance for manufacturers to adopt these policies, there are numerous benefits  to the manufacturer for doing so. The pressure for garment factories to become more transparent, accountable and sustainable through CSR can no longer be ignored.

Corporate social responsibility benefits manufacturers and garment factories

Forward thinking fashion brands such as H&M and Marks and Spencer are aware of the importance of investing in corporate social responsibility strategies aligned with their brand. Many fashion brands are working hard to ensure manufacturers offer fair wages and safe working conditions within their global operations, but there are still issues with transparency and accountability within the supply chain. Unfortunately, some manufacturers are still reluctant to develop effective CSR policies, unaware of the many benefits effective CSR policies offer.

Ensuring good working conditions within garment factories are essential for the safety and welfare of the workforce, highlighted by the Rana Plaza tragedy. Although any reputable garment factory should automatically want to ensure safe working conditions for their staff, conditions that are safe and fair are also financially positive for the factory. Garment factories that provide a safe environment for their workers experience reduced staff turnover, higher productivity and quality production. Staff who feel engaged and empowered are also likely to be more highly trained, resulting in less money lost on goods with defects or made poorly. Manufacturers which are more transparent will be more likely to see partnerships with reputable global fashion brands such as Nike, H&M and Patagonia, who are all dedicated to the The Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Transparency Pledge.

Manufacturers with effective policies for corporate social responsibility will also develop more streamlined and sustainable production practices, generating greater profits overall.

The challenges of corporate social responsibility for manufacturers

Although CSR seems an obvious future step for manufacturers, there are many challenges which can lead to reluctance to do so. The global nature of fashion production means different languages, governance and cultures can make implementing a coherent, standardised CSR policy more difficult. As a result, a global standard is required. One example is the SA800 standard, comprising of 9 requirements a manufacturer must follow to be considered socially sustainable.  Transparency pledges from major retailers and brands are all vital to ensure fair effective corporate social responsibility across the whole industry. Manufacturers adopting these standards will contribute to the eliminating of sweatshops and help create a fairer, more sustainable fashion industry- an important goal for the entire industry.

Corporate social responsibility must be the future for fashion manufacturers

Socially responsible corporate policies are essential for the entire global fashion chain. Consumers want to engage with socially responsible fashion brands, who are in turn developing effective sustainability policies. Fashion manufacturers and factories must now develop environmentally sound CSR policies which also guarantee a safe working environment for their workforce. We must all take responsibility for ensuring the future of fashion is sustainable.

Textile Consult is a management and training consultancy for textile manufacturers and retailers worldwide. Contact us today to see how we can make your business more effective and sustainable, as well as helping you to create effective corporate social responsibility measures.


Corporate social responsibility offers fashion brands a great opportunity

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In our last blog, we introduced the topic of corporate social responsibility, or CSR, and why it’s essential for the textile industry to become more environmentally sustainable through effective CSR policies. As many fashion brands are learning, social responsibility is a vital part of operating a successful modern business. It’s not just simply part of an ‘add-on’ eco-friendly part of their business anymore. This is particularly true of the global textile industry. Many of the component parts of the fast fashion chain impact on environmental sustainability, human rights and the local communities where factories are based, creating many opportunities for improvement and real impact. Consumers are keener than ever to support companies who demonstrate great CSR policies at the heart of their business models. It’s a huge change in consumer behaviour, but brands who don’t embrace these ideals will quickly find that their consumers have moved on to other brands that do, taking their money elsewhere too.

Social media allows brands and consumers to share their social responsibility values

The impact of social media on the social attitudes of big fashion brands is key. Customers are constantly connected and are keen, not only feel good about their fashion purchases,  but they also want to use social media to share their behaviours, fashion finds and socially responsible attitudes too. People like to feel they’re making a difference, even through buying clothes. Recent research confirms this, highlighting that brands with a ‘purpose’ constantly outperform brands without. For fashion brands to grow and continue to be successful, a genuine, well thought out CSR strategy which is embedded across the whole of the brand’s marketing plan is essential. These values of the brand need to filter through all areas of the brand positively, and they need to be specific. Customers respond well to these positive social impact messages, rewarding the brand with greater sales, increased market share and a continued positive attitude from consumers towards their brand.

Examples of great corporate social responsibility in fashion brands

Many brands know the impact of great CSR on their bottom line, and have implemented successful values accordingly. M&S’s Plan A has proven excellent for their business model, generating increased profits and a positive impact on all areas of sustainability in their supply chain. Industry leader H&M has embraced sustainability at the core of their business model, aiming to increase awareness of sustainability in fashion. Their aim is to educate their customers and raise the profile of recycling and environmental issues, driving their CSR policies through every single part of their business model. This is evident in all areas  including design, manufacturing and advertising. Patagonia also have well developed strong corporate social responsibility policies throughout their entire brand that focus on the environmental impacts of fashion. As well as developing their products sustainably, they regularly share messages about environmental sustainability across Patagonia’s social media platforms, continually strengthening their sustainable ethos and driving home the impacts of their social responsibility policies to their customers. These brands are aware of how important it is for brands to truly embrace their CSR policies and connect with their customers while doing this, increasing both their brand image and their company profits.

Brands needs to seize the opportunity Corporate Social Responsibility offers them

CSR is no longer something that’s simply admirable for brands to have. Aside from the essential benefits to environmental sustainability, effective corporate social responsibility policies should form key parts of a fashion brand’s marketing strategy. Pressure and willingness from consumers to share their purchases and values across social media have caused a shift in consumer behaviour that marketers should seize upon. Brands that create genuine, effective and needed CSR policies now have an ideal opportunity for brands to create value driven marketing messages to share with their consumers. From a purely commercially driven business point of view, if brands want to continue to grow and maintain market share, they need to care about corporate social responsibility. The result of this, of course is a more sustainable fashion industry for the future, with reduced impacts on the environment.

Textile Consult is a management and training consultancy for textile manufacturers and retailers worldwide. Contact us today to see how we can make your business more effective and sustainable, as well as helping you to create effective corporate social responsibility measures.

Why is corporate social responsibility so vital for textile sustainability?


Corporate social responsibility or CSR is becoming an increasingly important part of making fashion more sustainable. CSR is used to describe a company’s efforts to improve society or the environment. Crucially for the textile industry, this includes implementing environmentally sustainable policies across the entire production chain. Successful eco-friendly CSR policies can help reduce environmental impact and increase the sustainability of textiles, while also benefiting the company. Manufacturers and brands within the textile industry are increasingly aware of their responsibility towards society and the environment, developing effective and exciting CSR programs. CSR is essential to address the current damaging cycle of fast fashion, and consumers, brands and manufacturers must all play their part. This article takes a look at the importance of effective, eco-friendly CSR polices that benefit both companies and the environment.

The real ways effective corporate social responsibility will benefit a textile business

Corporate social responsibility is hugely beneficial for companies. Implementing an effective CSR policy to positively impact environmental issues and textile sustainability can generate major positives for a brand. These benefits include increased brand recognition, greater business reputation on a global scale and greater opportunities to attract better and more qualified staff. A well designed CSR strategy for textile sustainability implemented with a textile management consultant will lead to increased operational cost savings, more effective growth and a generally increased financial performance. These tangible benefits are obvious, but the increased PR opportunities and goodwill generated from eco-friendly and sustainably aware brands is hugely positive for a modern textile company too.

Textile industry CSR provides both challenges but also opportunities

As CSR becomes more essential, opportunities and challenges are generated in equal measure.  The impact of good CSR leads to an increasingly sustainable textile production chain, but the global nature of the supply chain can also bring challenges for your business. As discussed in the industry, there are many CSR challenges to create a sustainable fashion industry. These include government legislation across the supply chain in many different countries, creating the desire by manufacturers to change and addressing a culture of disposable fashion that is prevalent worldwide. Implementing long term sustainability schemes can also meet with resistance in a profit dominated industry often focused on short term gain.

However, the impact of great CSR is too good for any modern textile manufacturer to ignore. Good corporate social responsibility practices can massively impact sustainability of the fashion industry. As the recycling industry continues to struggle, and the cycle starts to break down, sustainability focus is vital. H&M has implemented successful CSR schemes such as garment collecting in stores, working closely and transparently with suppliers and manufacturers and aiming to use only sustainable organic cotton by 2020. Working hard to close the loop publicly has benefited H&M’s brand awareness immensely, leading them to be considered the forefront of effective textile industry CSR schemes. Another successful CSR scheme is M&S’s plan-a. They have outlines their commitments to address environmental and social impacts of their production, with the bold aim to ensure 100% of their products addresses all of their social and environmental impacts.

Corporate social responsibility is the future for a thriving fashion industry

Brands and manufacturers should take the time to develop impactful, effective CSR schemes that will help to create a more sustainable global textile industry. Good CSR schemes are impactful across the whole of a textile business, as well as at a global textile industry and societal levels. Generating positive brand benefits such as better PR, trust among customers and increased brand awareness go hand in hand with reduced impact on the environment and eco-friendly manufacturing messages. Corporate social responsibility is no longer a choice- it’s an essential component of a modern textile company.

Textile Consult is a management and training consultancy for textile manufacturers and retailers worldwide. Contact us today to see how we can make your business more effective and sustainable, as well as helping you to create effective corporate social responsibility measures.

The real impact of that new Christmas jumper

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We all want to look good this time of year, with the shops packed full of novelty knitwear, sparkly sequins and festive fleeces. Cheap prices and piles of choice make it hard to resist a brand new festive jumper, but the truth behind these is not so merry. This time of year makes it easy to see the impact of fast fashion on our planet, highlighting the unsustainable nature of these quick fashion fixes. Festive fast fashion that is often worn just a few times only and are often destined to be put straight in the bin after the big day. A Hubbub report states that in the UK, 25% of Christmas jumpers are thrown away, while a third of under 35’s buy a new festive jumper every year.  We’re fast fashion addicts, with Christmas clothes epitomising the quick fashion hits. As the year winds down and we think about the year ahead, it’s vital we all start to be active in how we can reduce the damaging impact of fashion, developing a sustainable textile industry fit for the future.

The impact of global fast fashion will only get worse

Although the short shelf life of Christmas fast fashion is makes the environmental impact particularly obvious, fast fashion throughout the rest of the year is a massive problem for the planet. A report by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation recently highlighted how the industry generates greenhouse emissions of 1.2bn tonnes a year, more than international flights across the globe. And it’s only set to get worse. By 2050 the fashion industry will utilise 300 million tonnes of oil per year, as well as adding 22 million tonnes of microfibres into the ocean, creating devastating and irreversible environmental damage. In the UK, each person produces an average of 70 Kg of textiles waste per year. Cheap, fast fashion means we are spending less on clothes yet buying more. There have been many calls for a fashion model with a closed loop, enabling reduced environmental and societal impacts, and big brands are now developing effective initiatives to achieve this.

Collaboration is the key for the future

We’ve written a lot about the sustainability of the fashion industry on our blog this year. Tangible and realistic measures need to be implemented across the industry to ensure true and lasting sustainability of fashion. The Ellen MacArthur Trust highlighted specific measures that need to be taken, including creating safer textile materials, using natural resources more effectively and significantly improving recycling facilities across the globe. However, the most effective method will be changing the disposable culture of fast fashion- including consumer attitudes to those novelty and often throwaway Christmas jumpers. Although consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the need for sustainability, the lure of cheap, sparkly Christmas jumpers or £4 novelty t shirts continues to prove hard to resist, and harder to overcome. Mintel recently reported that although people state their honourable intentions, for 80% of women aged 16-24, price was the most important factor.

Make it your resolution to be sustainable

We all want to look great over the festive season, and with shifts in attitude to fast fashion we can. Sustainability has to be the focus of the fashion industry for 2018 and beyond. Brands such as H&M and Nike are making real progress in developing future sustainable solutions, while charities such as Save the Children encourage recycling and sustainability for their yearly Christmas jumper campaign. We must all make conscious shopping and sustainability in fashion essential parts of our resolutions for the year ahead, buying less and buying more sustainably, while also recycling clothes effectively. Collaboration between the consumer, brand specific-initiatives and manufacturers is essential to create a sustainable future, allowing to us to enjoy festive knitwear and sparkly sequins guilt free year after year.

Textile Consult is a management and training consultancy for textile manufacturers and retailers worldwide. Contact us today to see how we can make your business more effective and sustainable.


How sustainable is organic cotton?


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Although cotton is one of the most popular fibres used in textile manufacturing, cotton production is also one of the most polluting industries for the environment. The current levels of cotton production demanded by the fashion industry have led to unsustainable and damaging production methods. This environmental impact means it’s imperative that solutions for effective and sustainable cotton production are found. Organic cotton is often promoted as the answer, seeking to produce a quality cotton fibre that is less damaging and more sustainable. But just how sustainable is organic production? Is it automatically a better solution for textile manufacturers and consumers?

The impact of cotton production on the planet

Traditional cotton production is harmful for the planet. Cotton production uses an incredible amount of water, needing 2,700 litres of water to produce a single cotton t shirt and up to 11,000 litres for a single pair of jeans. Increased cotton production across the globe is depleting fresh water supplies across the globe, as well as harming bird and fish populations. It’s also impacting water quality in the water cycle through the run off of fabric dyes, insecticides and pesticides used in production. These have been linked to carcinogenic chemicals for both producers and consumers, causing up to 20,000 deaths a year at latest estimates by the World Health Organisation.

Is organic cotton automatically a sustainable solution?

Organic cotton is often claimed and marketed as being a sustainable solution to traditionally produced cotton, and is certainly promoted as such by big fast fashion brands and the world’s largest organic cotton purchaser, H&M. Organic cotton is currently responsible for approximately 1% of worldwide cotton production. Although many consumers are likely to assume organic cotton production is automatically more environmentally friendly, concerns have been raised about the sustainability claims. As with all things sustainable, it’s a balance.

Traditional cotton production uses genetically modified plants which have been adapted to yield maximum fibre for production. As organic cotton uses non GM crops, this means a greater number of plants are needed to produce the same amount of cotton fibre. As a result, more land is needed for organic cotton production, leading to increased water usage for irrigation. Although organic cotton is largely rain fed which can ease pressure on water supply, this increased man-made irrigation may increase water usage. Dyeing processes in the final stages of textile production also raise questions on the sustainable nature of organic cotton. Many environmentally harmful chemicals are used in dyeing processes, even when organic cotton has been used. To be sure on the organic credentials of a garment, it should be certified under a program such as the Global Organic Textile Standard. However, one area where organic cotton production is particularly beneficial over traditionally produced cotton is the lack of harmful pesticides and insecticides. This reduces poisonous run off into lakes and rivers, reducing potential harm for farmers, manufacturers and consumers.

Organic cotton should be the future

Cotton produced organically offers increased sustainability for the future. Organic cotton uses fewer dangerous chemicals and is not genetically modified, all hugely beneficial to the environment and local populations. Although generally considered more sustainable than traditionally produced cotton, potential concerns over dyeing and finishing methods mean that manufacturers and brands need ensure a fully sustainable whole system process. The whole of the production cycle needs to be sustainable to be truly effective. Brands such as H&M and Nike are increasingly using organic cotton, an important step to ensure its continued use, increasing availability and reducing cost compared to non-organic cotton. Supporting and developing organic cotton production throughout the whole manufacturing process is a vital step in reducing the impact of cotton production, fast fashion and textile manufacture.

Textile Consult is a management and training consultancy for textile manufacturers and retailers worldwide. Contact us today to see how we can make your business more effective and sustainable.

The future of fabrics is smart



The future of fabrics is definitely getting cleverer, and more exciting. Developments in manufacturing techniques and garment design have enabled smart fabrics to be developed with nano-technology that are genuinely useful, well-designed, durable and in demand by consumers. Uses for smart fabrics are wide-ranging, including aesthetic applications in fashion design and providing information to the wearer via apps. Health, beauty and medical industries are starting to take advantage of the clever potential of smart fabrics, while their performance enhancing capabilities are impacting fitness and extreme sports sectors. These fabrics are fast outgrowing their once geeky, futuristic reputation and now have vast potential across fashion, health and sport.

Smart Fabrics Are Problem Solvers

As developments in smart fabrics continue, the capability of these products to be used in daily life increases. Improvement in technology means that smart fabrics are now truly interactive, giving clothes true sensing abilities. The development of nano- technology means that the active materials and sensors are placed in the fabric itself, rather than as a gadget. Examples of this include UV protected sun wear with sensors to tell the wearer to apply more sun protection, Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket that uses smart-fabric to allow the wearer to interact with map apps and phone calls and the development of clothes that alter to the surrounding environment temperature. Smart technology also allows fashion to have fun with lights and circuits, creating exciting new opportunities in fashion design.

Smart fabrics are also being used to benefit other areas, including medical monitoring. This includes Neopenda’s hat for newborn babies, in which a vital signs monitor is fitted to monitor heart rate, temperature and blood oxygen levels. This has huge potential in developing the world. A smart sock by Owlet allows identification and monitoring of serious medical conditions in infants.  Active materials in smart fabrics also enable sensors to be embedded into garments for constant patient health monitoring, reporting and tracking key health information, potentially for life.

Fitness Is Getting Smarter And Safer

The use of smart fabric in the sport and fitness, for both amateurs and professional athletes is one of the biggest areas of growth for smart fabrics. Developments in technology such as thermal plastic foams have generated fabrics that improve functionality and athletic performance.. Smart fabrics can now measure the chemical composition of your body, your body temperature, blood flow and heart rate. Constant data collection through fitness clothes can be used to analyse data on performance and conditions, creating improvements. Environmental sensors can be embedded to allow fabrics to change according to surrounding temperature and body temperature, something which has real potential for improving performance in athletes.

Smart fabric sportswear incredibly now also has the power to actively work to prevent injury. Innovation continues to be key for big active brands, for example Under Armour Inc. (UA). UA is the first active apparel brand to use auxetic smart materials. When these are stretched, they have the ability to absorb impact and resist fractures, creating game-changing trainers for athletes in their 3D printed Architech hybrid trainer.

In addition, polyurethane foam is benefiting impact protection in sports. For example, PORON® XRD™ has extreme impact protection allowing up to 90% of the energy generated by a high-speed impact, yet is thin, light, flexible and breathable. This is hugely beneficial in high impact sports such as tennis and running.

Smart Fabrics Are The Future

Smart fabrics have absolutely huge potential to influence not only fashion, but fitness, health and well-being sectors. Technology now enables sensors and active materials to be woven and embedded in fabric, creating innovative opportunities to track data, monitor health and to use technology seamlessly. Smart fabrics are also being developed to actively reduce injury and improve athletic performance, making the future extremely exciting for manufacturers, designers and consumers alike.

Textile Consult is a management and training consultancy for textile manufacturers and retailers worldwide. Contact us today to see how we can make your business more effective and sustainable.