Buying raw materials cannot be improvised. Indeed, it requires a good knowledge of the market. This includes competitors, potential suppliers, but also and above all, customers. The latter are more and more demanding, especially in terms of respect for the environment. Today, the job of " sourcing " is more complex. It is no longer enough to look for the best cost for the purchase of its materials. And this works for all fields, including the fashion world. So how does it work?
What is sourcing?
Let's develop this aspect first. Sourcing is the action of searching for suppliers of materials or services necessary to produce finished products according to predefined criteria. The first step is to identify the appropriate suppliers. In a second step, the company compares the different prices and services offered (quality of the material in particular, delivery time, ...). Then, a negotiation is set up to finally choose its supplier.
And in the world of fashion, how does it work?
The basis of fashion is the fabric. And this one can be made from various fibers: natural or chemical. These fibers are made all over the world. Cotton, for example, is mainly made in the United States, China, India and Africa. If you want wool, you'll find it in Iran, Argentina or New Zealand, but also closer to home, in the UK and Switzerland. Some materials, such as linen, are even made in France. Just like hemp which can also be produced in China and Spain. In short, in just a few lines, you have just traveled around the world to find your different fabrics.
In addition, the production of certain fibers is not very sustainable. For example, most cotton production requires pesticides and fertilizers. Fortunately, there is a positive trend towards organic cotton growing, which is slowly addressing these issues.
In addition, some fibers, especially synthetics, are made with petroleum (polyester and acrylic for example) and chemicals.
In short, as you can see, textile manufacturing can be harmful to our Earth.
What are the impacts on the planet?
As we have just outlined, producing textiles has a real impact on our environment.
First of all, the production is massive to answer a constant need of diversity. Our habits have changed. While our grandparents kept their clothes, their curtains, their carpets for a lifetime, we nowadays like to change our decor. We don't wait for our pants to wear out before we change them. We don't like our sheets anymore? Let's buy new ones. It is anchored in our consumption habits.
More generally, it affects our Carbon Emissions Footprint. From the supply chain to the final consumer, the emission of CO² is important.
How can we reduce our carbon footprint?
All efforts pay off, even the most basic ones. Thus, each stage of a textile's life can be worked on to reduce the negative effects on the environment. One of the solutions is the recycling of materials which gives a second life to the original.
However, the most suitable solution is to use local suppliers. This way, you reduce the emission of CO² at various stages: production and transport. Opting for more locally manufactured materials will be the best way to respect our environment. Indeed, transportation represents the most important part of our carbon footprint. And in particular the transport by plane. Local production, in all fields, is essential in our current context. Taking care of our planet is becoming essential and has now a fundamental importance in all households.
As a result, the sourcing of materials in the fashion industry has evolved a lot. It is no longer about finding the cheapest supplier but about finding the one that will also have a positive impact on our environment. Thus, many companies are now working with local suppliers and are, fortunately, putting it forward.
This important shift has been championed by IFA Paris thanks to the inclusion of sustainability based academic modules in all its academic programs. Sustainable sourcing is one of the topics specifically covered by our Bachelor in Fashion Sustainability.