Sustainability is no longer a NEW trend within Sportswear with more and more brands either switching completely to more environmentally friendly product options or at least developing certain styles using recycled plastic bottles or sustainable fibres.
The near future within Sportswear looks a whole lot better than it did 5 years ago when sustainable options on fabrics and components were few and far between and usually carried huge surcharges or incurred massive minimums.
So how do you run a more sustainable apparel brand?
Well, it’s all about MINDSET and OFFSET. You need to have a clear objective when you conduct every aspect of running your sportswear business. Every aspect of the business needs to work towards leaving as little damage to the planet as possible. This mindset will reduce your business carbon footprint; however it won’t eliminate it completely as you are still producing products and shipping them around the world.
This is where Offset comes in, where you consciously rectify any damage your brand has made by producing and distributing your apparel. You do this by helping sustain the planets health by doing positive actions such as cleaning oceans or planting trees.
Below are the 5 key steps to become a sustainable apparel brand.
A complete business mindset needs to be implemented across the brand. Every employee needs to understand the impact to the planet they may be doing by conducting their day-to-day tasks and look to source more environmentally friendly alternatives and approaches.
This mindset stretches across everything, be it your chosen energy supplier, the courier company you select, the product design and choice of materials, packaging used and how much you order and store. Every aspect needs to be scrutinised and potentially adjusted to become more sustainable.
The product materials and components should use a sustainable solution that causes the least damage to the planet without loosing quality or performance.
The quantity you purchase should also be considered so that you sell through without discounting, devaluing the value of the product which intern shortens the life of the product as the consumer won’t value it as highly as if it were sold at the full RRP.
Think about upgrading the quality of fabric and components so the garment lasts longer.
Use a manufacture that is ethical and pays its workers well. You should also try to find a factory that manages their waste and recycles their waste as much as possible. The inks they use should be environmentally friendly and the water and power they use could be provided by a sustainable source.
When your goods are ready to be shipped from the factory, look to package these in recycled cartons and ship these using the most environmentally friendly way, even if it takes longer to arrive.
Think about how the goods are packages and what effect this has on the volume you are shipping. Should they be folded or hung? The less space your shipment takes on a vessel, plane or truck, the more cargo they can carry, reducing the overall carbon footprint of this journey.
Are the garments individually wrapped in a plastic bag and can this be replaced by a biodegradable, naturally sourced bag and do you really need a swing ticket?
How friendly are your goods once they are thrown away? Will they sit in landfill for decades without decomposing and what happens when they eventually do decompose? Are the fibres and components going to contaminate the soil?
Think about using natural fibres and components that degrade fast and put back nutrients into the ground.
You may also want to think about offering a clothing repair service, perhaps as part of the RRP, FOC or you could charge for this service. Brands that repair damaged products and give them a second life are valued highly by their customers and will become loyal to the brand.
If you are looking to produce sustainable apparel or want to look at becoming more sustainable, then please get in touch.