Changing lifestyles has led to the expansion of wardrobe and hence lower usage. The Panel Discussion at the Economic Times Global Business Summit hovered on the idea and the brains behind some of the best brands gave their insights and food for thought- Can we Collaborate to Create? Can a second hand garment market be created? Let’s find out.
A busy afternoon saw five brains coming together to discuss on the biggest concern of the day: Making Fashion Sustainable- The Journey to 2030. Ms Namrata, Director Brand & Strategy, Futurescape, the moderator goes in conversation with:
Mr Abhishek Ganguly, MD Puma India
Mr Neelendra Singh, MD Adidas India
Mr Sanjeev Mohanty, MD- South Asia, Middle East & North Africa Levi Strauss & Co.
Mr Sanjay K Jain, MD TT Ltd & Immediate Past Chairman CITI
Ms Eshna Gogia, Global Ecosystem Developer Helixworks Technologies
Here is the excerpt:
Namrata: What does ‘Sustainability’ mean for a brand?
Neelendra Singh, MD Adidas India: Sustainability is a framework which covers the lifecycle of a sport. It’s not a sprint but a marathon for our brand.
Mr Abhishek Ganguly, MD Puma India: It’s core to the brand’s existence. Our brand has 10 sustainable goals which we want to reach by 2020. Sport influences life and how the brand positively impacts the environment is close to our organisation.
Mr Sanjeev Mohanty, MD- South Asia, Middle East & North Africa Levi Strauss & Co.: The brand’s core value is ‘Profits with Purpose’. The brand is working towards giving more and taking less from the planet. It is pursuing sustainable fashion since two decades. The company is careful about the usage of material, where they sell and where they source from.
Namrata: The real issue is that fashion is polluting. Inspite of the commitments by the brands, carbon emission is the largest by the fashion industry.
Mr Sanjay K Jain, MD TT Ltd & Immediate Past Chairman CITI: Sustainability is always associated with cost. Consumers are not ready to pay extra for sustainability. Organic cotton is 1 to 1.5% more expensive than the regular cotton. The brands have to use it in a way that it doesn’t add extra cost to the manufacturers. Earlier we were selling underwears in a poly free packaging but had to introduce poly as the customer wanted it. Now we print on the box- plastic free and the initiative is appreciated thanks to the PM of the country too.
Mr Sanjeev Mohanty, MD- South Asia, Middle East & North Africa Levi Strauss & Co. : Our Worker Well Being programs impact factories along 17 countries. The 2025 targets have been taken. We are establishing partnerships for cleaner textiles. Sustainability has been a part of our DNA before it became a buzzword because we come with a serious commitment to environment. Jeans is a high water consumption category but we are saving more than 80% of water through technology and are ready to share our technology with the textile & garment industry. Brands can share their technology and not look at a competitive energy.
Ms Eshna Gogia, Global Ecosystem Developer Helixworks Technologies: Society is moving from mindless consumption to mindful purchase. Millennials connect with the journey of the product in the supply chain. The traceability and transparency of the supply chain instills consumer trust in the brand. Sustainable fashion model in the fashion industry is the need of the hour. The West is producing animal free leather and fur & silk is grown in the lab.
Mr Neelendra Singh, MD Adidas India: Consumers give insights and have become far more conscious today. The fashion cycle is reducing and consumerism is increasing which is not good for the environment. Can brands afford not to be a part of the solution? Brands have the responsibility to leave Earth safer.
Namrata: Can collabs within brands happen?
Mr Abhishek Ganguly, MD Puma India: It’s a food for thought. Puma is collaborating with other brands and with one such collab, plastic was made into products. Fashion is extremely polluting. By 2018, 50% of our cotton was from sustainable sources and we want to make it 90% by 2020. Brands can set the tone for the future.
Namrata: What do the brands do when the garments are not sold? What to do when customers have worn the garment once or twice and do not want to wear further? What about the second hand market?
Mr Sanjeev Mohanty, MD- South Asia, Middle East & North Africa Levi Strauss & Co.: Usage per cloth has come down drastically. There are clothes for morning, evening and weekends. We don’t want to throw till the wardrobe is falling down. The second hand market is huge in US. It’s bigger than retail and will be bigger than fast fashion industry. This is a legit industry abroad.
Namrata: Will second hand Levis’s get welcomed in India?
Mr Sanjeev Mohanty, MD- South Asia, Middle East & North Africa Levi Strauss & Co. : It’s a huge market in the US. The brand takes garments from the thrift shops to redo and sell. Anything that the brand does has to be done on a high scale. One can get their old jeans to our store at Select City Walk, Delhi and repurpose it including patching and changing the size of the garment.
Namrata: How do customers differentiate between brands who sell original considering 80% of the garments are sold and 60% returned to someone else?
Ms Eshna Gogia, Global Ecosystem Developer Helixworks Technologies: Here the transparentability of the brand matters. Our technology is giving products with molecular memory in the fibre of the product. One can scan and verify the manufacturing date, it’s warehouse and all the info stored. It adds value to people who want a real story.
Namrata: Can one differentiate between fabrics recycled in future?
Ms Eshna Gogia, Global Ecosystem Developer Helixworks Technologies: Technology will help in that- when was the cloth recycled, which part was added to it- one can find it all.
Mr Neelendra Singh, MD Adidas India: A lot of innovation is yet to happen. Blended fabrics are difficult to disintegrate. The brands will have to refrain from blending fabrics to maintain the circular loop.
Namarta: Do we need to redesign sustainability?
Mr Neelendra Singh, MD Adidas India: Design is important. Are the brands designing it to recycle? If a shoe is made to remake, the brand has to be concerned about the glue, chemicals used in the making of the product to ensure it is recycle friendly.
Mr Sanjeev Mohanty, MD- South Asia, Middle East & North Africa Levi Strauss & Co. : Single thread can be recycled. We are doing a pilot project of how this can be scaled to the next level and not charged to the customers.
Namrata: Sustainability is cutting across all aspects of a company. Do we need the ‘Head of Sustainability’ or the CEO is enough?
Mr Abhishek Ganguly, MD Puma India: Depends on the company’s sustainability initiative. E-commerce packaging is so much more than the offline model. Till re-commerce becomes a trend in India and adoptability comes, brands have to be careful. Puma did a project with Goonj to collect old shoes & clothes at their stores which were later shared with Goonj. Circular economy is very important.
Namrata: As a finance guy, what does it mean?
Mr Sanjay K Jain, MD TT Ltd & Immediate Past Chairman CITI: We are conscious as a mid segment value for money brand as consumers are conscious. Whether customer understands or not, brands need to do their initiatives. For example, if Flipkart and Amazon decide that the outer cover will not be plastic, how much can we save?
Namrata: 2020 is the decade of action in terms of Sustainable growth. Final thoughts to transform the ecosystem and eco growth.
Mr Abhishek Ganguly, MD Puma India: We are in a growing category doing more sports and fitness. We will continue to stay positive and work towards India to be fitter and play more sports. The brand has 10 sustainable goals to reach by 2020 globally. It is important for brands to set the tone and contribute to the ecosystem and being aware that it matters.
Mr Neelendra Singh, MD Adidas India: Drive sustainable agendas till 2020 and amp up the marine life and get plastics out of the ocean.
Mr Sanjeev Mohanty, MD- South Asia, Middle East & North Africa Levi Strauss & Co.: 90% of our products are being made waterless. There is zero discharge of hazardous chemicals. From business point of view, bringing big focus of getting sustainability products to women.
Ms Eshna Gogia, Global Ecosystem Developer Helixworks Technologies: We are bringing sustainable products from consumer’s point of view and bringing sustainability justice to all the 3 pillars- people, profit & planet. We can’t blame the industry, we should be responsible consumers too. If we cut down our consumption, that itself is a start to the sustainable world. Chance should be given to new fabrics and homegrown brands. We should collaborate to create- cleaner products, equal wages, recycling & reusability.
Final thought: Sustainability begins with all of us and we need to make 2020 decade full of action. Time to not just hear but listen.
Let’s Expresso is the proud Blog Partner for Economic Times Global Business Summit 2020. Keep following the blog for insights on the fashion industry. You can follow Tanya on Instagram here.