If you’re exploring different avenues for scaling up, you may want to think about supply chain integration. A properly integrated supply chain will give you more control over production (and thus your products), greater flexibility and the ability to decrease expenses to increase profits. It can also add to your brand story as you cut down waste and decrease your carbon footprint like three sustainable brands who have it down to a tee: Eileen Fisher, PACT ORGANIC and Reformation.
Eileen Fisher is a really unique brand in that they’ve always been focused on the environment and sustainability although they’ve only recently weaved it into their marketing and branding strategies. They fabric and textile suppliers can be found from South America to Asia and they source sustainable materials like organic cotton and alpaca.
They have a full-time supply chain transparency specialist on hand for supply chain mapping and their goal is to reach 100% traceability in the near future. They have great relationships with suppliers and producers and make a point of being transparent about these sources, relationships, the condition of their facilities, how they treat their workers, etc. which shoppers can discover on the company website.
Another move to integrate the supply chain is moving more production into New York and California. They compare their 25% American production to the industry-wide percentage of 3% of American garments produced on U.S. soil. They’re gradually shifting more locally for greater flexibility, reduced turnaround time and, of course, to decrease their carbon footprint.
They regularly visit with their domestic and international manufacturing facilities and ensure all collaborators (vendors included) share and act on the environmental and social values and beliefs found at Eileen Fisher.
Eileen Fisher is raising the bar and setting new standards for eco-responsible brands in fashion. They make attractive garments with sustainable fibers, safe dyes, they’re increasingly sustainable and they make sure that all of the people along the supply chain are receiving good treatment. They’re leading by producing more timeless designs that lead to reduced waste and when shoppers are finally done with their garments, they can choose to look to Eileen Fisher RENEW. RENEW is a program for reselling previously worn garments that have been cleaned and sold as is or also repaired and/or repurposed.
PACT ORGANIC started as an organic cotton underwear brand but now they’ve branched out to offer other basic separates like hoodies and leggings. Because of their sustainable focus and use of organic cotton, they made sure to fully certify their supply chain with the trusted Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). The certification means a lot of things, including that any chemicals used were not toxic and are biodegradable and that they haven’t sourced from GMO plants.
As for the designs featuring less than 70% organic cotton, they’re certified by Organic Cotton Standard instead. Like Eileen Fisher, PACT also makes sure their environmental and social values are held throughout their supply chain. They work with a Fair Trade USA certified factory in India so they know their products are manufactured in an environment where farmers and factory workers enjoy living wages, overtime pay, work transportation, meals and other benefits in a safety and healthy conditions.
A week doesn’t go by without hearing something about Reformation – and it’s easy to see why. They have groundbreaking levels of transparency, sustainable products and production processes, an American factory, innovative retail stores and style that wins over legions of Millennial shoppers. They’re doing a lot right!
While the brand has been sold at places like Net-a-Porter and SHOPBOP, the bulk of its business comes from selling direct-to-consumer. They sell online – where they began as an e-commerce only store – and now also have a couple of their own environmentally-friendly, digitally-focused brick-and-mortar stores.
On the production side, they have their own L.A. facility – a factory featuring green infrastructure, green practices and a primarily female staff, all earning pay equal to or above living wages. Owning the factory allows them to easily track their carbon footprint which they offset with moves like planting forests filled with trees. As part of their ethos, any shopper can hop online and see the amount of water used and amount of carbon dioxide waste created listed for every design.
Reformation uses vintage materials, deadstock and eco-friendly fabrics. The new sustainable fabrics come from suppliers held to the same environmental and social standards they set for themselves. And since they own their own factory, it allows them to pivot much faster for moves like replenishing popular styles. In fact, Reformation introduces new product on a regular basis – similar to fast fashion companies – but in an eco-friendly way.
They get real-time feedback from customers via social media and data from the tablets outfitting every fitting room and they get real-time feedback from the production side too!
Reformation managed to achieve what was believed to be impossible – they’ve made sustainable fashion totally cool. They share all of the nitty-gritty details, they take shoppers behind the scenes into their production facilities and it seems like everything they touch just works – from their branding and marketing initiatives to their fun clothes. Their profile in the industry and quick level of success will likely lead more brands to see that you can do your part to take care of the environment while remaining stylish and turning serious profits.
Integrating Your Own Supply Chain
Take the time to examine your supply chain like these sustainable brands… all the way from where you source your materials to the production line. Do you know where all of your materials come from or how workers are treated along the way? Do you own any segment of your supply chain?
You may be shocked to realize that there’s tons you don’t know – sources and collaborators included! Start to consolidate the various aspects. Supply chain integration can help you produce in a more ethical manner and scale with lower production costs, greater speed and a lot more options.
Ready to scale up but you don’t know where to start? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for custom, one-on-one guidance. We can advise you through everything from capacity building to growing your presence in international markets. And for DIY tips, visit www.ScalingRetail.com.