To solve the complex challenges the fashion retail industry faces today, diverse skills and knowledge are needed. That means that we need to build connections for knowledge sharing, learning, cooperation and to widen our reach. Through partnerships and collaboration we can accelerate the industry’s move to become more socially responsible and sustainable.
Some of the most impactful partnerships are unadvertised and unnoticed by many consumers. Partnerships with non-profit organizations such as Greenpeace or UNICEF push retail/fashion brands to set new standards for a more responsible fashion supply chain while obtaining support to improve their own systems and processes. Sometimes these partnerships are initiated by the brands, other times they are pushed through by the NGOs.
Partnerships for good in Fashion: Taking action behind the scenes.
GREENPEACE — The Fashion Detox Solution
In 2011, Greenpeace launched a #DETOX campaign, calling on all fashion retailers to clean up their supply chain. Greenpeace demanded commitments from international brands, retailers and suppliers to find ways to eliminate hazardous chemicals used in their processes. Most fashion and retail brands including Benetton, Inditex and H&M, responded and joined the campaign voluntary.
This July, 7 years after the launch of the detox campaign, Greenpeace published a report laying out the progress the 80 fashion companies made in cutting hazardous chemicals from their clothing production. “ A new dynamic has been created in the way that brands relate to their suppliers by introducing rigorous chemicals management in manufacturing, a roadmap for elimination of hazardous chemicals and requiring transparency by publishing suppliers and their wastewater discharge data.”
Greenpeace’s Detox campaign continues, also further targeting luxury brands. Under the hashtag #The-king-is-naked, it calls for consumer action towards brands including Versace, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Dolce & Gabbana that sell children’s clothing containing hazardous chemicals. It might not be a voluntary partnership in the eyes of the luxury brands, but change is necessary for the environment and safety of their customers, and through the Detox campaign, Greenpeace has demonstrated that it is feasible too.
To improve children’s rights across the industry, big players in the fashion and retail world have come together in a new network launched by UNICEF and Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund. The network group will discuss what can be done to improve the plight of children working throughout the supply chain, in terms of education, health, nutrition and general conditions for mother and children. The focus of the network is “to get leading companies on board and to work with them to find practical solutions to real life issues”.
One of the largest wealth funds in the world, the fund invited 30 companies to join the initiative. H&M, Kering and VF Corporation are among the companies that the NSWF has invested in and that have joined the network. More info can be found in this news article.
Ways to successfully create partnerships for good in fashion and retail.
Sustainable business models will be crucial for future success of the fashion and design industry. The development of sustainable and fair fashion is a necessity — for people, planet and will become so for businesses.
There are a variety of ways to engage in a partnership for good, whether it is a public campaign that raises consumer awareness for the cause, a collaboration that gives access to knowledge needed for innovation or a network group that creates solutions for the industry in joint actions. It is important either way to recognize that suppliers, brands and consumers can work together to become more socially and environmentally responsible.