Redesigning the Fashion Industry

In order to appreciate the enormity of opportunities to be made within the $2.5 trillion fashion industry, it’s important to understand a few key facts. First, it is estimated that the global apparel industry touches at least 150 million lives everyday, with 80% of the supply chain workers made up of women. Additionally, the industry contributes 10% of total global carbon emissions and 20% of industrial water waste. At the end of the cycle, 85% of textiles are sent to the landfill, adding 21 billion tons of waste to landfills each year.

While the scale and global nature of the fashion industry propel it to the top of any impact index, it is the industry’s constant reinvention that truly creates opportunity for rapid re-evaluation and transformation.

When considering the influence the fashion supply chain has on other industries, there are many distinct but entangled sub businesses that must evolve in order to create a more inclusive industry. From farming to transportation, real estate and waste management, to the everyday workers creating the garments—all industries need to evolve to create the inertia to transform the global fashion system.

In the SB’17 Detroit session on “Redesigning the Fashion Industry by Proving the Business Case for Sustainability” Glasgow Caledonian University New York Vice President and Founding Director of the Fair Fashion Center, Cara Smyth, will demonstrate the interconnectedness between global issues and business opportunities that can create an industry that supports people, planet and profits.

The audience will hear an array of best practices, innovative thinking, first-hand experiences and expert testimony surrounding the power of sustainability to transform business. The discussion will review practical ways to move company initiatives beyond CSR, and empower organizations to embed sustainable business practices by providing solutions across business functions.

Incorporating perspectives from a range of prominent brands, the dialogue will look at rebalancing equity in the supply chain by determining where there are inefficiencies, and subsequently implementing strategic thinking to close the gap. It only takes one piece of the very intricate and complex puzzle to disrupt the chain, leading to an ever-present opportunity for innovation and creative thinking to solve existing and future problems.

“Redefining the Good Life” is the central theme for this year’s Sustainable Brands conference, offering an array of different, yet impactful meanings for each company involved in the discussion. For Glasgow Caledonian University’s Fair Fashion Center, the “Good Life” means engaging business leaders to have meaningful discussion around how to create profitable business systems that benefit workers, industry leaders and the ecosystem at large.

The GCU Fair Fashion Center’s initiatives are built upon the recognition that systemic change in the fashion industry requires an approach that is aligned to the industry’s disciplines and reconciled to the bottom line. While profitability is key component of any business small or large, the Fair Fashion Center believes in the importance of thinking holistically, combining economic value creation with environmental stewardship, social inclusion and sound ethics.

The GCU Fair Fashion Center is proud and honored to stand among so many dedicated and passionate individuals and companies with a common belief — that unleashing the best of human ingenuity and innovation can change the shape of business and, with it, the world.

Cara Smyth
GCNYC Vice President and Founding Director of the Fair Fashion Center
GCU Fair Fashion Center
April 18, 2017

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