Sustainable fashion – the time is now

There was a strong focus on potential solutions at the Association of Suppliers to the British Clothing Industry (ASBCI) conference, titled ‘Time for change – facing up for fashion’s sustainability and ethics challenges’, which took place in May in Manchester.

Expert speakers from across the fashion industry and academia gathered together to acknowledge the scale of the challenges facing the sector and highlight practical initiatives, innovative thinking, and business realignments that could help create a sustainable future for fashion. Speakers made it clear that sustainability is no longer just an optional extra.

Not only is there a clear business case for sustainable business models, but legislation is increasingly transforming industry response from the voluntary to the mandatory. In the UK, the Modern Slavery Act 2015 already requires businesses with a turnover of more than £36 million to report on modern slavery in their supply chains.

Daphne Guelker from UL explained that a new bill has been submitted that will demand an explanation for inaction, name and shame non-compliant organisations, and ban them from public procurement. ‘The legislators are telling us more needs to be done.’ Carly Bilsbrough from Shop Direct talked delegates through the retailer’s labour initiative in South India to combat labour violations and improve working conditions in mills, and in doing so create a safe and sustainable future for the industry in the region.

Phil Townsend from M&S explained how the Better Cotton Initiative is transforming the sustainability of this global commodity, while Peter Hughes from Eurofins / BLC Leather Technology Centre highlighted the complex and often conflicting nature of emotive sustainability issues with an examination of the pros and cons of leather versus its vegan alternatives – ‘Raw material choice is critical.

You need to look at chemicals, manufacturing methods, social implications, and end of life – can it be recycled?’ Overconsumption and its knock-on effect on textile waste were key concerns.

The buy now, wear once, and throwaway culture and the linear take, make, dispose business model that supports it must end. Vanessa Wakefield from Recyclatex discussed current and future models for recycling and reuse, including fibre-to-fibre recycling, while Garry Knox from GreenEarth Cleaning highlighted the role that sustainable aftercare can play in making garments last longer.

‘This was a fascinating conference on a very important topic for the industry,’ said ASBCI Chairman Dr Alistair Knox. ‘The incredible attendance proves just how seriously the industry is taking it.

The speakers were excellent, and we have already had requests to hold a follow-up conference next year as well as more focused technical seminars delving deeper into specific aspects of sustainability, so we are looking into various possibilities to keep the momentum going.’ The conference was hosted by Dr Julie King, deputy dean at the University of South Wales and ASBCI event director, and was sponsored by UL, GreenEarth Cleaning, and Coats.

There was a strong focus on potential solutions at the Association of Suppliers to the British Clothing Industry (ASBCI) conference, titled ‘Time for change – facing up for fashion’s sustainability and ethics challenges’, which took place in May in Manchester.

Expert speakers from across the fashion industry and academia gathered together to acknowledge the scale of the challenges facing the sector and highlight practical initiatives, innovative thinking, and business realignments that could help create a sustainable future for fashion. Speakers made it clear that sustainability is no longer just an optional extra.

Not only is there a clear business case for sustainable business models, but legislation is increasingly transforming industry response from the voluntary to the mandatory. In the UK, the Modern Slavery Act 2015 already requires businesses with a turnover of more than £36 million to report on modern slavery in their supply chains.

Daphne Guelker from UL explained that a new bill has been submitted that will demand an explanation for inaction, name and shame non-compliant organisations, and ban them from public procurement. ‘The legislators are telling us more needs to be done.’ Carly Bilsbrough from Shop Direct talked delegates through the retailer’s labour initiative in South India to combat labour violations and improve working conditions in mills, and in doing so create a safe and sustainable future for the industry in the region.

Phil Townsend from M&S explained how the Better Cotton Initiative is transforming the sustainability of this global commodity, while Peter Hughes from Eurofins / BLC Leather Technology Centre highlighted the complex and often conflicting nature of emotive sustainability issues with an examination of the pros and cons of leather versus its vegan alternatives – ‘Raw material choice is critical.

You need to look at chemicals, manufacturing methods, social implications, and end of life – can it be recycled?’ Overconsumption and its knock-on effect on textile waste were key concerns.

The buy now, wear once, and throwaway culture and the linear take, make, dispose business model that supports it must end. Vanessa Wakefield from Recyclatex discussed current and future models for recycling and reuse, including fibre-to-fibre recycling, while Garry Knox from GreenEarth Cleaning highlighted the role that sustainable aftercare can play in making garments last longer.

‘This was a fascinating conference on a very important topic for the industry,’ said ASBCI Chairman Dr Alistair Knox. ‘The incredible attendance proves just how seriously the industry is taking it.

The speakers were excellent, and we have already had requests to hold a follow-up conference next year as well as more focused technical seminars delving deeper into specific aspects of sustainability, so we are looking into various possibilities to keep the momentum going.’ The conference was hosted by Dr Julie King, deputy dean at the University of South Wales and ASBCI event director, and was sponsored by UL, GreenEarth Cleaning, and Coats.

All news articles

Want to read more?

There are lots of ways to view articles from Laundry & Cleaning Today

Prefer to subscribe and receive a printed copy of Laundry & Cleaning Today? Click here

If you have a story to share or a general enquiry, call 0118 901 4471 or email info@laundryandcleaningtoday.co.uk

Sponsored