Bangladesh is on the track to embrace systematic changes to move for a more sustainable industry
The fashion industry is a major contributor to environmental degradation and social inequalities. To address these issues and move towards a more sustainable and responsible future, the industry must highlight the systemic change.
To reduce the environmental impact of fashion production, companies must adopt more sustainable and ethical practices. They need to use environmentally friendly materials, reduce waste, and ensure fair labor conditions for workers.
This year in both the United States and the European Union, new regulatory proposals appeared intended to drive greater sustainability in the textile and fashion industries.
Legislation is coming for fashion to end a long history of self-reporting and -regulation for the industry, particularly around its climate impact.
Some of the legislation is set to impact brands as early as the spring, and brands in different regions will be affected differently.
In short, brands are set to increase their focus on emission reduction, garment worker rights, supply chain responsibility, and product circularity. Copenhagen Fashion Week (CPHFW) — the leading Nordic biannual fashion week — is one of the organizations reimagining the systems the fashion industry is built on.
Since taking the helm at CPHFW in 2018, it has contributed to amplify the fashion week’s impact while increasing its ambitions. This time CPHFW discussed mainly on sustainability requirements, innovations, legislations, etc.
“This particular edition of Fashion Week marks a milestone for our event and for our organization as we have finally, after three years, implemented sustainability requirements that have gone into effect,” explained Cecilie Thorsmark, the Chief Executive of Copenhagen Fashion Week, in her welcome.
“It’s specifically 18 minimum standards that cover the entire value chain, meaning all brands that are with us at Copenhagen Fashion Week must be able to live up to the standards and submit documentation to back it in order to be admitted to our fashion week.”
Attendees stressed the need for the industry and legislators to work together to find a realistic compromises that will effectively reduce the impact of fashion on the planet. “Consumers are getting outraged by it. I think there’s an appetite for regulating, which will force the industry to address its volume question,” an attendee said.
“Second-hand grows 11 times faster than fast fashion. We are seeing different circular adoption that is happening. There is no one way of saying the future of fashion is X, [like] the future of fashion is rental [or] resale. It is the combination of everything.
It is saying, ‘we can go heavily on recycling and making it a fantastic thing to do,” said another attendee.
According to a global report conducted by Thredup with analysis by market research firm GlobalData – the resale market is growing at a rate eleven times faster than traditional retail and should be worth $84 billion by 2030, with fast fashion predicted to be worth about $40 billion.
Circular business models, including resale and rental, are on track to become a $700 billion market representing 23 percent of the fashion industry by 2030. Brands and suppliers need to be prepared to be 100% transparent and willing to change, according to global fashion leaders.
Bangladesh is on the track
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), Reverse Resources, and P4G have partnered in an initiative ‘Circular Fashion Partnership’ that aims to achieve a long-term, scalable transition to a circular fashion system.
Over 30 renowned fashion brands, manufacturers and recyclers are collaborating in the new initiative to capture and reuse textile waste in Bangladesh.
The partnership facilitates circular commercial collaborations between major fashion brands, textile and garment manufacturers, and recyclers to develop and implement new systems to capture and direct post-production fashion waste back into the production of new fashion products.
Participating brands, garment manufacturers, and recyclers include:
Bershka, Bestseller, C&A, Gina Tricot, Grey State, H&M Group, Kmart Australia, Marks & Spencer, OVS, Pull & Bear, Peak Performance, and Target Australia.
Amantex, Asrotex Group, Auko-tex Group, Aurum Sweaters, Beximco, Bitopi Group (Tarasima), Composite Knitting Industry Ltd., Crystal International Group Limited, Echotex, Fakir Knitwear, GSM, J.M. Fabrics, Knit Asia, MAS Intimates, Ratul Group (Knitwear & Fabric), Salek Textiles, S. B Knite Composite (Sankura Dyeing and Garments) and the Northern Group.
Birla Cellulose, BlockTexx, Cyclo, Infinited Fiber Company, Malek Spinning Mills, Marchi & Fildi Spa, Lenzing AG, Recovertex, Renewcell, Saraz Fibre Tech, Usha Yarns Limited, Worn Again Technologies The partnership is still welcoming new applicants; companies can get in touch here.
Through collaboration among the participants, the partnership aims to build a successful business model for adopting more circular processes. It plans to facilitate a decrease in textile waste and increase the use of recycled fibres, distributing value throughout the fashion value cycle and generating economic benefits in Bangladesh by accelerating the fiber recycling market.
Morten Lehmann, CSO, Global Fashion Agenda, said, “To establish a circular fashion system we need to reimagine the production process so that it appreciates the value of textile waste. It is encouraging to see so many prestigious companies sign up to the Circular Fashion Partnership and, with their help, I am confident that we can demonstrate a strong business model for circularity that can be mirrored by others in the future.”
Miran Ali, Director, BGMEA, said, “Circular economy is not merely just a concept; it is the future! Fashion industry is historically following the linear model of business “take-make-dispose” but now we stand at such a critical juncture where we cannot afford to continue this linear model.
Moreover, demand for circular apparel is increasing and brands are coming with pledges towards it, so as manufacturers we have to embrace it and align ourselves with the global trend.
Bangladeshi factories typically produce larger volumes of the same item, meaning that waste is more standardized; therefore, Bangladesh can be a global leader in the area of the circular economy. We believe CFP is a good platform to start the journey.”
On the other hand, Circular Economy in Bangladesh’s Apparel Industry (CREATE)” project has been launched to investigate the circular economy transition in global apparel value chains linked with Bangladesh’s apparel industry and develop effective policies.