How can we distinguish sustainability concerns from “greenwashing” claims?

Silvia Pérez Bou, Academic Director of the Right Fashion Program, explains the visible and invisible parts of the fashion industry

Sustainability is now a word so meaningful but also lack of content. The “sustainable” label is omni-present in our life, and even more, in the fashion industry.

But, what does it really mean? Is there any scientific method to quantify fashion impacts? How can we distinguish sustainability concerns from “greenwashing” claims? Is it over-consumption the problem or is it over-production? Are current fashion business models capable to be more sustainable? Are organic or new materials the answer we need to transform the industry? Is it profitable in terms of revenue to adopt a more responsible approach to the value chain or is it prize what makes the difference? In this time of Covid 19 pandemic, is sustainability a priority or do we need to address other critical aspects before?   

These and other similar questions will be discussed at the program Right Fashion: Roadmap to Co-responsibility”.

Right Fashion ISEM- Greenwashing
In the fashion industry there are both a visible part and an invisible part.

In the fashion industry there are both a visible part and an invisible part: the visible part is clear and well known by the final consumers at the retail stores. The invisible one is what occurs throughout the value chain: the “journey” from the farmer, mill, producer, manufacturer, delivery, etc., until the store or on-line shop: operations, chemicals and other substances, work processes, human rights, workers’ safety, materials, recovery and recycling policies, etc.

This programme aims to highlight the invisible part from a multi-disciplinary and international perspective. Chemists, Engineers, Designers, Lawyers, Economists, Mathematicians, Journalists, and other academics and industry practitioners will share their expertise about SDGs, compliance, regulations, eco-design, product’s toxicity, reputation, investments, circular economy, logistics, among other aspects.

4 intensive weeks with a methodology based on lectures, case studies, visit to factories and laboratories, consultancy projects, and working teams will provide you with the necessary tools and deep knowledge to understand the problems and make a review of the processes and solutions to tackle them.

As John Thorbeck, chairman of Chainge Capital, recently said, “what fashion is facing for its recovery is to entirely reimagine the supply chain, orienting its focus further upstream, closer to factories, closer to materials. It means sharing risk, sharing value, and sharing upside with suppliers. The required change is to be collaborative, not adversarial.”

It is a question of responsibility: fashion brands are responsible of everything that occurs in their value chain (“when you put your label you become liable”). But they are not the unique players. To move towards a more responsible model needs the co-responsibility among all the stakeholders: from providers and manufacturers to final customers and investors.

If you want to be a part of this transformation process, welcome to the program Right Fashion: Roadmap to Co-responsibility!

Silvia Pérez Bou, Academic Director of The Right Fashion Programme.

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