Recently, Infosys released a ‘white paper’ (What is a White paper?) on the topic of ‘Designing Profitable Eco-Labels’. The report discussed the challenges retailers are facing in the process of creating eco-friendly product lines without comprising the trends and fashion behind them.
There is one fact that no one can deny: there is a strong demand for sustainable labels. By sustainable labels, I am referring to labels that are green (eco-friendly) or socially-conscious. However what is stopping the mainstream consumer from making these eco-friendly, sustainable products? Cost is definitely one big roadblock. Whether it is true or not, a common belief is that green products or socially-friendly products have to be expensive, thereby stopping a consumer from even considering the green option.
From a retailer’s point of view, there are many challenges they face including the time/speed that the product reaches the market, considering that fashion is a highly seasonal industry – this is tremendously important to the success of a line, sourcing & design challenges, and transparency. Is it possible to find eco-friendly colours or fabrics that suit the current trends? How do we know that the materials are truly meeting eco-friendly standards? What is the cost of compliance? There are many questions that need to be answered in order for the process to be transparent and profitable.
I think that the growing awareness about the negative environmental impact of the manufacturing sector has created a demand for products that have a minimal ecological impact and are eco-friendly. Therefore, the need to comply with the mandates that are set forth by regulatory bodies can only be address by education and R&D. By working with artisans who have been using natural materials for years, we can learn much about producing products that are not only eco-friendly but also affordable for the mainstream consumer. By combining the latest trends from around the world with already used materials and fabrics we can replicate those trends and ensure consumers a fashionable end-result. There are strategies to ensure that products are not only eco-friendly, but also fashionable and profitable, however it will take iterations and learning before these strategies will be perfected.
For more information on Green PLM’s for fashion and apparel, read http://www.infosys.com/offerings/industries/retail/white-papers/Documents/green-plm-fashion-apparel.pdf.