Fashion brands must strive for true visibility into cotton supply chain
As consumers increasingly question the provenance of the clothes they wear, fashion brands and retailers need to be able to unravel their cotton supply chains all the way from seed to sale, GlobalData argues.
“In an era of responsible retail, there’s more pressure on fashion brands and retailers to understand their supply chains from field to shelf,” says Leonie Barrie, Apparel Analyst at GlobalData. “After all, it’s only by knowing how and where their raw materials come from that they can make true sustainability claims about the cotton contained in their products."
Key here are initiatives such as BASF’s e3 Sustainable Cotton programme, which encourages farmers to commit to continual improvement in land management, and can also track and trace cotton all the way from source to the end garment. It is being used by brands such as Wrangler, whose Rooted Collection jeans launched earlier this year are made from 100% sustainable, locally-sourced e3 cotton grown, milled, cut and sewn in five American states.
Moreover, a deal with startup Vidalia Mills – the first denim mill to open in the US in almost a century – will see it become the first to exclusively use 100% e3 cotton sourced from across the US farm belt to build a transparent and sustainable denim supply chain in the United States.
Meanwhile, the e3 programme, which currently runs in the US, is being expanded to countries such as Turkey, Greece and Brazil. Barrie concludes: “Retailers have a duty to address wider social issues, and it is encouraging to see that many are not only talking about responsibility but demonstrating it through their business practices. Meaningful stories about products are also key to ensuring buy-in from consumers – and sustainability has an important part to play.”