The global textile and garment industry is at a crossroads. A three trillion dollar industry that encompasses the manufacturing and selling of textiles and garments, apparel has long been considered a source of economic progress around the world and has historically served as a catalyst for national development and industrialization. The inverse of this growth and the accelerating production of fashion has been a broadening and deepening track record of poor working conditions and heavy pollution. The collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in April 2013 in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka jolted to life widespread and increasingly prolonged scrutiny of the industry, and has brought to the forefront longstanding questions over how to bridge the gap between economic viability and social and environmental performance.
To sort through the minefield of perspectives, expectations, and challenges that have only grown more complicated in recent months, Impact Economy—a global impact investment and strategy firm—has released a new report titled Creating Sustainable Apparel Value Chains, authored by Dr. Maximilian Martin, the founder and global managing director of Impact Economy. This report provides an evidence-based assessment of the prospect of sustainable value chains in the textile and garment industry.
In this exclusive series for CSRwire, Dr. Maximilian Martin and William Burckart—the managing director of Impact Economy (North America) and a contributing author to the forthcoming New Frontiers of Philanthropy (ed. by Lester M. Salamon, Oxford University Press)—summarize the key findings of the report, digging deeper into the implications and recommendations for transforming value chains in the apparel industry (and beyond).
We highlight, most notably, how achieving total resource productivity and transparency, upgrading industry infrastructure by (impact) investing, improving working conditions with a new level of ambition, and replicating best practices of leading players can unlock a new level of viability and sustainability.