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Since its acquisition by Manhattan-headquartered Unified Commerce Group (UCG), much of the production of eco-friendly clothing brand Frank & Oak, which previously relied on 34 suppliers, has shifted to the Chinese Lever Style retail service company. Both companies have shortened delivery times, improved fit and developed more responsive production. “The better you can do to optimize your demand and how much you produce – and optimize the flow of your supply chain – the less footprint you’ll create,” says Dustin Jones, UCG co-founder and CEO.
Sustainable fashion brands are increasingly looking to leverage technology and data to improve their bottom line and reduce the environmental impact of e-commerce. This is not an easy task given that many technology solutions are specific to a category or business model. However, leaders are increasingly realizing that investing now could mean dramatically reduced costs down the road.
“As technology evolves, so do our consumers’ expectations for interacting with the brand, and this change is endless and rapid,” says Alegra O’Hare, Director of Marketing for Tommy Hilfiger Global. “Digital innovation, harnessed with the power of data, allows us to develop a deeper understanding of what our consumers really want. “
The industry’s efforts are supported by third-party stakeholders, including HSBC, who are working to more closely align business and sustainability goals.
“We want to help fund more key drivers of sustainable fashion, from our sustainable supply chain finance programs to sustainability loans. We’re also investing in digital solutions, including the new Serai business platform, the Apparel Impact Institute’s Clean by Design program, and bringing venture capital to climate technology solutions, ”said Kelly Fisher, Head of corporate sustainability, HSBC US.
Getting customers what they want
Implementing efficiency improvements has been particularly difficult in 2021 thanks to increased demand on the transport networks. Founder and CEO of the new Wknd Nation comfort clothing brand, Phuong Ireland, intended to transport the majority of the brand’s products by sea wherever possible, but the disruption meant they had to carry more. larger than expected for a March launch by air instead.
Ireland intends to use a balance between the two methods, delivering a third of the goods by air to test demand, with the bulk coming in by sea freight after obtaining more data. “It’s just a matter of getting that initial reading so that I don’t order unnecessary inventory,” she says. “It seemed responsible to me, both from an environmental and business perspective.”