Exploring fashion supply chains in times of crisis

Exploring fashion supply chains in times of crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences for global markets and their manufacturing. The crisis has exposed the lack of resiliency specifically within the fashion industry supply chain, while simultaneously highlighting positive opportunities rising from the crisis.

Circular Berlin wanted to explore the role of circularity in creating a more resilient fashion industry and reinforcing its supply chains for the future; on both local and global scales. On 03 June 2020, we welcomed four international designers and entrepreneurs working in circular fashion to discuss the state of fashion supply chains during and after the pandemic. An audience of over 100 participants and viewers joined the discussion.

From our home city of Berlin to Indonesia, we had the privilege to hear about the diverse work and perspectives of:

Julia Hermesmeyer, co-founder of Dzaino (Berlin, Germany), presented the local supply chain behind their products. Reliant solely on bike carriage within Germany, Dzaino faced few challenges to maintain the flow of production during the crisis.

Calle Evans, entrepreneur and consumer experience specialist (San Francisco, CA, USA), presented the importance of educating the consumer about natural fibres and creating a (digital) connection with customers during a crisis.

Marina Chahboune, founder of Closed Loop Fashion (Indonesia), discussed her expertise after working ten years in sustainability consulting for factories across twenty-seven countries. She spoke about her current work to build sustainable supply chains and circular factories in Southeast Asia.

Ina Budde, co-founder and CEO of circular.fashion (Berlin, Germany), presented her work in bringing a circular agenda to international brands. In the times of COVID-19, circular.fashion has offered pro-bono consultancy for brands to create sustainable practices and products.

After listening to the impact of the pandemic on the speakers and their work, we explored the following questions:

  • What has collaboration between brands and manufacturers looked like during COVID-19?
  • What are the consequences of reverse supply chains?
  • How has deadstock been dealt with?
  • What is the role of technology in supply chains?
  • What has it been like not being able to have in-person interaction?

Listen to the speakers’ answers watching the live stream recording here:

To foster networking and encourage peer collaboration, we offered two breakout sessions. In the first session participants had the opportunity to introduce themselves and why they were taking part in the event. In the second session participants answered the question, “What are the opportunities for the system to become more circular now?” Here are the main ideas collected by the participants of opportunities for the system to become more circular in  a time of crisis:

  • Boost Rentals & Rethink products as services
  • Improve recommerce
  • Rethink and redesign for longevity and timeless design.
  • Importing or using upcycled/recycled fabrics for production, using dead stock for new collections, connect deadstock supply with designers to re-create collections to be relevant when markets open up again 
  • Re-education of brands and producers regarding Circular Economy, consumer education starting as early as possible, educate people on ethical and conscious consumption and change mindsets bit by bit of how our decisions can make a huge impact
  • Brands and Producers to take responsibility in consumer and customer education
  • Implementation of new laws, e.g: establishment of penalties for harming workers’ rights or acting irresponsibly as a company
  • Improve quality of life of workers who are working in the garment factories (safety/health/incomes)
  • Establishment of a more transparent production system
  • Research and development  for materials used in the supply chain including fibers, dye, leather etc. and investing more  in biomaterials

The event was organized by Arianna Nicoletti und Arin Moyer, coordinators of the Fashion & Textiles expertise group within Circular Berlin. We will continue to organize events in this field, so if you have any suggestions or wishes about specific topics, please let us know!

Arianna Nicoletti: arianna.nicoletti@future.fashion

Arin Moyer: arin.moyer@gmail.com