The current understanding of the fashion industry is more conscious about the degree of its impact on the environment. The contemporary life path of clothing, supply chains, and distribution minimize their negative impact on the environment and society. Technology makes fashion more sustainable and safe.
Awareness of the affect that the fashion industry inflicts on nature and humans has led to a demand for things produced without harming the environment. It is now crucial for the consumer where and how the product is made. Taking care of the health of their customers and the environment comes to the fore among big brands.
More and more companies are supporting the course on ecology and ethical attitude towards animals and the planet. With the world's clothing production doubling in the past 15 years, CO2 emissions from the textile industry have exceeded those of the shipping and international travel industries combined.
Cotton and polyester are 85% of the raw materials in the production of clothing, and both materials are far from environmentally friendly
. For instance, growing cotton for only one t-shirt requires 2.7 thousand liters of water. Fast fashion without the necessary control and traceability puts the world at risk of a global environmental crisis.
Stop slave and child labor
In the fashion industry, it is challenging to obtain transparency in the supply chain and production. Forced labor, including child labor
, begins in the cotton fields, continues at the processing stage of raw materials in cotton yarn, and is used in sewing workshops. Seven countries have acquired the highest exploitation of children for the textile industry: Egypt, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and China.
Cotton producers often rely on the labor of minors - not only because of its cheapness but also because small fingers do not damage cotton boxes and fiber. Children are involved in planting and weeding, hand watering, harvesting. The working day is not normalized.
Children are exposed to pesticides and get below the minimum wage without attending school. In India, there have been numerous cases in which parents sell their child into slavery, having received a full advance for the planned years of labor.
According to Stop the Traffik
, 400,000 children were working in the cotton fields in India in 2005, most of them girls aged 7-14. The working day was 14-16 hours. According to UNICEF
, 11% of children - 170 million - are involved in various forms of forced labor globally. Six million of them work involuntarily.
People cannot fully trust even eco-brands until clothing and footwear manufacturers ensure transparency and traceability of the supply chains. Companies must guarantee that there is no slave labor and that all products are tested according to the most stringent chemical health safety standards.
Traceability is the solution for sustainability
The buying process became quicker and easier with the spread of e-commerce, while delivery became faster, and the supply chain participants number increased. Current supply chains are often complex and global systems. Remoteness of delivery regions and time difference, different business approaches and supplier standards make the obstacles for proper management.
The development of online sales channels can seriously affect changes in the industry. The supply chains
have to prove their viability through flexibility and speed. Besides, in a turbulent environment, fashion companies must adapt quickly to new circumstances and to use these opportunities for the development of technologies and services.
Pandemic boosted global digitization
The rise in the number of participants in supply chains and operations caused the increased need for document management. It also requires time and resources for printing, storing, and transferring, archiving, protecting, and utilization of paper documents, confirming their legal significance. Manual filling many documents leads to mistakes and delays, as well as irrational staff costs. To exchange digital documents, supply chain participants must have integrated management systems. Also, the transfer of data through different operators creates risks of leakage or damage. The implementation of blockchain-based systems can help.
Blockchainization of supply chains
Blockchain is a continuous chain of blocks containing information with a distributed ledger technology
. There are several benefits to use blockchain in the fashion industry.
● A shared database in a cloud service or on the company's servers gives all members of the network access to digital data at the same time.
● Blockchain architecture geographically distributes copies of data around the world and eliminates the risks of losing it, for example, due to the destruction of storage infrastructure.
● The absence of a central administrator and the fact that the data is encrypted makes it impossible to replace it without the awareness of all members of the network.
● The unchanging data increases confidence and enables legal use.
● The data is secure from fraud and change, ensuring its transparency and tracking the movement of goods in supply chains.
● It is faster to create a smart contract in the blockchain due to its standardization and agreed execution algorithm. Every day there are millions of contracts in the world for the transportation of goods only. Reducing time and cost on a large scale is becoming significant.
● Transactions are irretrievable, and this eliminates the possibility of fraud in supply chains.
Blockchain can provide environmental transparency along the entire product supply chain. The system can ensure that fabrics, clothing production, and delivery do not involve slave labor, meet the requirements of safety and environmental friendliness. Blockchain technology
can only authenticate what is inside the network; to ensure that the information entered the system is genuine and correct, it must work in tandem with other technologies.
To fully automate traceability, blockchain has to interact with IoT systems and advanced big data analytics
. This combination can automatically validate all the entered information. Data automatically entered from unauthorized IoT systems and cross-correlated with data from multiple other sources can be used automatically and without human interference to create reliable data and truly trusted information entry points for each supplier through a distributed database.
For example, an IoT in stock might scan RFID tags on goods and check the entry date. Therefore, automatic smart warehouses or shipping containers can verify the quality and authenticity of an item at every stage. Blockchain platforms can make it possible to create local fashion systems in which local clothing production is distributed regionally without intermediaries in complex supply chains, connecting manufacturers and consumers at the local level.
The pandemic has damaged supply chains, the sustainability of production, and the quality of education. The effects of this damage will remain in the economy and society for decades. Technology is now the way to sustainable development in the fashion industry as well as in other areas of economy and life.