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digital wholesale must be sustainable too

Aug 19, 2020 – Luna Laysiepen, Growth Marketing specialist

The equivalent of 2 million Olympic-sized swimming pools of water are used on dyeing garments each year. 2 billion people on the planet struggle with access to clean water, while 20% of all water waste is caused by the manufacturing of clothing. Striking numbers for an industry that's making strides to become more sustainable. Manufacturing is critical, but so is sourcing, shipping, design, and wholesale. Fashion brands need to be more efficient across the entire value chain in order to become truly sustainable. What's common for all these steps is that they share the same opportunity: accelerating digitization. 

Digital can be Fashion's greatest ally in becoming the most sustainable industry on the planet. Digital can help in so many ways, but there's one that stands out in everyone's agenda today: carbon emissions. 

Carbon emissions are fashion's biggest sustainability challenge. In order to produce 1 pair of jeans, you need about 1 kg of cotton flowers, which requires close to 10,000 liters of water to grow. That is equivalent to how much drinking water 1 person would consume over the course of 10 years, but do jeans last us 10 years? 

Taking into account the industry's projected growth is based on increasing production and sales volume, fashion’s carbon footprint is estimated to account for 26% of global emissions over the next 30 years if nothing changes. 

infographic - It takes 10,000 liters of water to produce 1 pair of jeansIt takes 10,000 liters of water to produce 1 pair of jeans, the equivalent of 10 years worth of drinking water for 1 person.

Offsetting is off-putting

At present, a number of Fashion brands are focusing and investing in projects towards carbon offsetting. But they are not taking any steps to actually decrease their emissions. “At best, this [offsetting] means a marketing exercise to counterbalance the footprint of a fashion show, for instance. At worst, it’s akin to paying for the problem to go away while otherwise preserving the status quo”, as Rachel Arthur wrote in a Vogue Business article

While offsetting is better than nothing, sustainability advocates are calling for a more profound solution. As written in McKinsey’s State of Fashion 2020: “[…] streamlining production and editing collections are the most important guidelines.” Together with reduced air travel & logistics, we can actually start making a real difference. Many fashion brands may ask themselves: How do we actually go about such a turnaround in our largely tactile business? 

Sample Reduction Guide Mockup Cropped1Interested in how to reduce samples? Our Sample Reduction Guide includes strategies on how to reduce your samples, best practices, and much more.

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The answer is right in front of us: Go Digital!

At HATCH, we have seen how major fashion brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein start with their wholesale business and branch out from there to other areas of the value chain. Digitizing fashion showrooms has contributed to these brands’ sustainability goals in a number of ways. One of the most effective ways is that it allows for brands to decrease their production of physical samples. Products manufactured that are used during a single sell-in season only, never to be seen again. Consider the following benefits of sample reduction if the fashion industry goes virtual by using digital showrooms:

  • No samples mean less garment production 
  • Decreasing the need to travel to physical showroom spaces to see these samples
  • It means simplifying logistics in shipping samples all over the world
  • And it means minimizing storage space required to keep the sample lines/carry-overs available during wholesale sell-in seasons

Think of the positive effects this has on reducing water waste and carbon emissions.

In our experience, going sample-less is just one of the many benefits of digitizing fashion wholesale selling. It may not be the final solution to this ever more pressing issue, but it is a great start. There are many ways in which the Fashion B2B space is evolving in current times. Most of all, a clear trend is emerging: the transformation of the Fashion Industry from a traditional business focused on the touch & feel environment to a future-forward digital mindset. And we are very eager to further explore the many possibilities there are by taking Digital action that can bring sustainability to the forefront of Fashion.

Sample Reduction Guide

Download the sample reduction guide and build a sustainable experience for your customers that drives stronger sales.

Download the Sample Reduction Guide