Have you ever thought about the process behind how you clothing is made? You see a new jacket or pair of jeans in the shop, but does the thought cross your mind of how this item actually came to be? There are many processes hidden behind the clothing we buy, each of which affects the environment and/or other people around the world in some way.

Supply chains are all the components that make up the development of a product all the way up to when the customer makes their purchase.They are extremely complex, particularly in the fashion industry where transparency is lacking and there are many cases of even big name brands not knowing everything that is happening in their supply chains.

It is this lack of transparency and insight that creates many problems within the industry, with many brands choosing to turn a blind eye to what is happening or palm off the responsibility to somebody else within the supply chain.

The supply chain is also where brands try to cut most of their costs. They are trying to produce as cheaply as possible at each step of the way, so that they can achieve their optimal profit margins, between production costs and sale price. That means corners are cut and somebody else is paying the price for our cheap fashion items.

Supply chains are very important in managing the sustainability and ethics of an organisation. Despite what some big fashion organisations might claim, all business have the ability to control and monitor their supply chains at every step of the way. Here is where organisations have the opportunity to introduce sustainable and ethical practices, in order to reduce their environmental impact and ensure that their workers are treated fairly and are working in a safe environment.

The Prezi below gives a very simplified overview into the processes behind a supply chain in the fashion industry, as well as some of the various social and environmental issues that are likely to arise at each step. Maybe once people realise that clothing doesn’t just appear out of thin air, it will encourage them to become more conscious consumers and make ethical choices wherever possible.

From cotton to consumer: How supply chains work (video)
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