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Previously, as part of the “TENCEL™ Insights” series, we spoke with Tricia Carey, Director of Global Business Development for Denim at Lenzing, to discuss the denim segment amid COVID-19. She joins us again, this time to talk about how denim brands can look towards sustainability in the long-term.
Q: How do consumers respond to sustainability efforts adopted by the denim industry? What significant changes would you expect in consumer purchasing pattern over the next five years?
Tricia: As brands continue to adopt more sustainable practices, consumers are also asking more questions about raw materials and looking for better quality garments. One significant change is that more people are now interested in knowing how their denim is produced and what it is made of. This is a reflection of the rising attention given to supply chain transparency in the lead up to and following the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers have begun to demand as much information as possible to help them determine the exact quality and environmental impact of their purchases.
Within the next five years, I expect to see a continued increase in transparency awareness at the consumer level. Technology now exists to provide data to the consumer through the convenience of their phones. Another concept which should gain prominence is circular economy, as the afterlife of products garner more attention from brands and consumers. Recycling and redesigning will become more common to keep garments in circulation for longer.
Q: Brands and consumers are now working towards Sustainable Development Goals advocated by the UN. How do you think the textile industry is going to transform?
Tricia: The industry is already transforming towards greater sustainability – across all apparel categories, responsible consumption and production (SDG #12) will remain a key action for all. The entire supply network needs to work closely to reduce the environmental impact of the industry and raise social standards. Climate action (SDG #13) is also another major change that the industry needs to address.
Proudly, Lenzing is one of the 384 companies with approved Science-based targets to take positive steps towards reducing our carbon footprint and has committed to the United Nations Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2018. Combined with the growing trend among consumers to read product tags and conduct online research before making purchases, I believe the textile and apparel industries can impact the Sustainable Development Goals as an ecosystem.
Q: How can denim brands incorporate sustainability in their business/day-to-day activities?
Tricia: At the moment, the growth strategies of most denim brands are focused on progress over perfection. Reduction of water is one-way brands are incorporating sustainability within their material strategy, like sourcing TENCEL™ Lyocell and Modal fibers, and usage of laser finishing. This is a good start, but brands must also focus on the quality of their transformation to avoid the greenwashing trap.
One key point that brands should consider incorporating is circularity initiatives. Launching programs such as garment take-back or selecting fibers made from recycled materials, such as TENCEL™ fibers produced with REFIBRA™ technology, will help brands perfect their sustainability plan. Denim brands also need to consider the social standards of their supply network as they commit to ensuring safe work environments and launching sustainable development programs.
Leveraging partnerships with value chain partners can also be very helpful to retail brands. Engaging with like-minded raw material producers, fabric mills or spinners will help brands better manage and improve their supply chain transparency.
Photo credit: CLOSED®
Photo credit: CLOSED®
Q: How do you incorporate sustainability in your day-to-day activities?
Tricia: As a committed responsible citizen, three Rs, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, always come to my mind and guide everything I do. In addition, I always try to reduce my carbon footprint by taking more public transport and finding ways to reduce food waste.
As a mother, I am always cautious about how to set the best example for my children, who deserve to have access to a healthy planet when they grow up. When I shop for the family, I try to buy from responsible and local sources whenever possible and always check the labels for low environmental impact fibers like TENCEL™ Lyocell or Modal.