Navigating the Future of Fashion: Engaging Fashion Suppliers

This year is poised to be a turning point for fashion supply chains, as brands and suppliers race to comply with incoming legislation and meet the sustainability goals of 2025.

Regulation, including due diligence laws and the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, has elevated supply chain traceability to a key focus.

But how do we ensure active involvement in the supply chain? In a world where brands often treat suppliers as disposable resources, there is a crucial need for change.

It’s still common for clothing suppliers to operate under the control of brands, a dynamic made evident post-pandemic.

A traceability program won’t succeed without the collaboration and cooperation of fashion suppliers. They play a key role in ensuring greater transparency in the supply chain, but they must be actively involved.

Developing strong relationships based on mutual respect is essential, as is being supported and motivated to share their data to achieve traceability goals.

Fashion suppliers, where to Start

Although supply chain traceability is a shared goal, the way companies achieve this is important.

First-level suppliers should be the first to have the entire supply chain mapped, providing them with the necessary tools to empower their strategic operations and sourcing activities.

The next step will be involving their suppliers (tier 2) and so on. Engaging your fashion suppliers community is key, but remember not to underestimate the education on the importance of their cooperation.

So here are 3 ways to align our fashion suppliers with this vision:

1️⃣ Education and Understanding: It’s essential to ensure that suppliers understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ a traceability solution is being adopted. Without this understanding, any initiative is doomed to failure.

2️⃣ Sharing Vision and Values: Defining and sharing the brand’s medium and long-term goals, together with associated values, creates a common ground for collaboration and aspiration.

3️⃣ Clarity on Risks and Penalties: fashion suppliers must be aware of the consequences in case of non-compliance. This not only creates a sense of urgency but also an understanding of the seriousness of the commitment.

Our Fashion Suppliers Engagement Program

In our journey towards deeper involvement in the value chain, we have implemented supplier engagement programs through our platform, working on the following aspects:

1. Active Supplier Training: Helping them upload information to the traceability platform.
2. Support and Communication: Solving problems and answering questions through individual meetings or group calls.
3. Continuous Monitoring: Regular performance monitoring to ensure that standards are maintained.
4. Integrations: The goal is the integration of various technological solutions to ensure different systems can communicate with each other without extra work. Data entered into your traceability platform will thus be available and visible to all supply chain actors.

Discover more here Supply Chain Mapping Requirements

If all the subjects involved in the entire life cycle of the product deepen their knowledge of its impacts, the reduction of these becomes a shared and accessible objective.

Reflection by Hakan Karaosman

Hakan Karaosman, academic and president of the Union of Researchers Interested in Fashion expresses his point of view on the fashion supply chain and suppliers: Vogue Business – Legislation is Coming for Fashion’s Supply Chains, Are You Ready?

“Involving more actors in the supply chain decision-making process is key to unlocking solutions in 2024. Fashion brands must learn to adopt operational strategies that not only help them sustain economic profitability but also allow their supply chain partners to thrive.

To take technical decarbonization and transitions seriously, we should bring these suppliers and manufacturers to the forefront. We should learn from them rather than create top-down agendas based on assumptions.

In 2024, what we should be talking about is how suppliers and workers can help us advance these conversations.”

Conclusion

As climate commitments for 2025 draw closer, fashion is under pressure to clean up its supply chains. Barriers persist, but incoming legislation, investments in technology, and a gradual shift in power dynamics between brand and supplier are pushing the industry towards its goals.

Book a call with our experts to understand how to implement your mapping and traceability program.

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