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WAKEFIELD – Companies which embrace sustainability will be the leaders of a resurgent fashion industry on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic, leading industry figures told the first ever Ecotextile Talks newscast.

The event, hosted by Ecotextile News founder and editor John Mowbray, featured panellists Amina Razvi, executive director of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), Catharina Martinez-Pardo, principal of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Higg Co CEO Jason Kibbey, Sanjeev Bahl, founder and chief executive of Vietnam-based jeans manufacturer Saitex, and Kate Heiny, director of corporate responsibility at Zalando.

They discussed a recent joint report by the SAC, BCG and Higg Co., entitled Weaving a Better Future – Rebuilding a More Sustainable Fashion Industry after COVID-19

Razvi spoke about how sustainability had been gaining momentum in the industry, before COVID-19, with more and more commitments being made and programmes implemented.

"Since the crisis hit, sustainability has been hit with it," she said. "Respective budgets for programmes have been deprioritised, sustainability employees furloughed, and supply chain relationships have been severely strained.

"However, we believe that post-crisis, sustainability is going to be essential, it will be viewed as a key product priority by all stakeholders including consumers and investors, which we are starting to see more of.

"Greater collaboration will be required across the entire value chain if we are not only going to survive but thrive in a post-crisis world."

Razvi, together with Kibbey, explained the report's recommendations to brands which began with short-term measures to protect their businesses, manage orders while preserving their supply chain, while trying to maintain key social and environmental programmes.

The industry was now entering the next stage, they said, in which companies were advised to re-evaluate their decisions so far, strengthen and rebuild customer trust, continue to manage excess inventory and strengthen supply chain collaboration.

In the longer term, they were urged to "embrace the new reality" by anchoring trust in their brands and practices, investing in new business models and innovation, while rebuilding sustainabiity programmes.

Kibbey said: "We think it's absolutely critical that sustainability must be integrated throughout the business in this recovery.

"If sustainability programmes are not actually integrated into everything that we do; one, it will be difficult for them to succeed at scale and, two, it will not be meaningful."

To hear the full 90-minute discussion, which is packed full with insight and expertise, including an entertaining Q&A session in which questions from viewers were put to the panellists, please follow THIS LINK.

And if you have any ideas for subjects for us to examine in our next Ecotextile Talks newscast - or if you would like to be involved, please don't hesitate to get in touch!

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