Weird, unprecedent, vulnerable, devastating, sobering, fragile….. the list of words extend to define what we global citizens are experiencing today. I believe that the world as we know is no longer possible and we are indeed witnessing a global disruption of unforeseen force and impact.
For the past few months I have been questioning the notion of being on the edge to grow as I believe that exactly where we can transform our thinking patterns, habits and behavior and back then naturally in no relation to today`s pandemic. I wanted more to explore constructing the bridge of sustainability and climate crisis for the fashion industry through an informative, interactive platform and connecting the dots of the supply chain reaching out to the consumers. In fact, the very fact that I was working for an extremely polluting, resource depleting industry has been bugging me for the past 20 years. Fashion on one hand is all about people, creativity, self-expression, unity, beauty, a joyous celebration of all that we are blessed with and that is exactly why the system needed to evolve. I have defined the pursuit of bringing on the change as my goal since the early 2000s and this very journey has helped me to evolve myself as well as the businesses I have managed. It has presented me opportunities of collaboration, learning and applying multiple diverse dynamics in problem solving, looking at the facts, trying to both understand. I have met many heroes, experts who were generous enough to share their knowledge so that we could both feed from the collective as well as nourish the pool of wisdom and compassion. This is no poetry although I am mostly a romantic. I am referring to facts and figures, projects, findings, statistics, calculations. We knew that we have been creating a world based on the tragedy of commons. The commons being the very natural resources, the cheap labor, the water, the air and the earth – all taken for granted and all consumed for growth. Overcapacity, under quality, discounted, landfilled as long as it was selling and selling at scale. Recently, the industry acknowledged that the model needed to be fixed and with such a complex supply chain model the progress would not be imminent and required partnerships for impact. Technological advancements in raw materials, recycling, manufacturing processes, investments have been making headlines and brands have been declaring their sustainability targets for 2025 or 2030. Greenwashing, lack of global sustainability standards, pressure on the supply chain to offer better products cheaper remain in opposition to the thriving efforts of collaborative transformation but the trajectory for responsible manufacturing and consumption was encouraging.
Now the fashion industry is at a standstill with all the global retail store closures and the reverse chain reaction presents problems we will yet come to understand. Screening and safe- guarding the supply chain by understanding the supply chain risks and taking action to address disruption will be easier said than done as the complex global footprints will make it difficult to develop coordinated responses. Financial liquidity will be difficult to maintain for most and companies will need to take action. The work force in developing countries that are dependent on their wages to survive will be hit the most.
The systems we have depended on have proved to be fragile and prone to be devalued and that brings me to think that we did not give and present the value of the products, the labor, the growth for such a long time that now we are witnessing the shut-down as a possible break-down. This period will end (hopefully soon) and we will be compelled to re-design the very systems which are failing today. The very problem will become a key to the solution for various businesses. Resilience, collaboration, ethics, innovation, preserving what we have and an end to inequalities are all possibilities to emerge once we are through this period or even as we go through this period. We are at the very edge of the systems of business, economy and our lives as we know. Our everyday has changed as we work from home, connect remotely, keep our social distance, take personal hygiene top priority and as we remain in uncertainty of what the future will prevail. The future that we will need to construct collaboratively with compassion over competition, value over cost, loyalty, trust, transparency over greenwashing. Now is the time to prevail responsibility and take ownership of everything that we claim to present.