Transparent supply chains and why small businesses have the power to make change
In the frenetic world of fast fashion have you ever taken a moment to ponder where your latest favourite summer dress started its life or how far it has traveled to reach you?
The difficulty in identifying the various vendors within a fashion supply was highlighted in a story posted last week by BBC News titled "Has this dress been to more countries than you?”. Within the article the author traced the journey of a Zara dress across at least five different countries before it reached the shop floor.
"Most Inditex (Zara’s parent company) garments are made close to its Spanish headquarters or in nearby countries such as Portugal, Morocco and Turkey. This is what helps the firm achieve its famously fast reaction times to new trends. Most of its rivals' supply chains are far less local. Regardless of where they're based, most factories are not owned by the fashion brands that use them. Instead, they're selected as official suppliers. Often these suppliers subcontract work to other factories for certain tasks, or in order to meet tight deadlines, but also making it incredibly hard to trace the exact players within their supply chain - Inditiex alone have over 6,000 factories and close to 2,000 suppliers". - BBC News
This lack of a transparency in the supply chain is concerning for a variety of reasons ranging from labour conditions to ecological and environmental concerns, and appears to be most prevalent amongst large scale businesses. However, I believe that smaller fashion businesses have the power to dispel this cloud of mystery and provide complete visibility to consumers who are, encouragingly, becoming increasingly curious and conscious about where their purchases come from. The solution is refreshingly simple: produce locally, celebrate your suppliers and tell your customers where your products come from.